As APEC delegates descend on Bali to discuss the global economy, their future counterparts are involved in something a little bit different nearby. Hosted by Canggu Community School , Global Initiatives Networking Conference is a two-day student conference for children as young as 12 years old, with the goal of inspiring future leaders.
On Saturday and Sunday the conference, which is co-hosted by the Green School and Bali International School, will be filled with hands-on experiences combined with talks from inspiring international leaders.
This is the first time the Global Initiatives Networking Conference ( GIN) will happen in Bali. The agenda is set to give students the opportunity to understand and think about solutions to some of the big issues facing the world that are linked to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. The conference will promote awareness of the UN’s MDGs and aims to inspire, motivate and educate, as this is the way forward to creating solutions.
GIN’s conference coordinator Kayti Denham said the activities are designed to promote an enjoyable environment that advocates creative solutions to the world’s most pressing issues.
“So many of the problems we see in Bali today can be approached through a combination of education and action. By hosting the Global Initiatives Networking Conference in Bali, we can harness the best of Bali: Its youth, both local and international, who will be the leaders, be it in Bali or overseas,” Denham said.
The activities will take place all over the island with the help of local partners. The program was designed to expose students to issues related to the environment, health, child mortality, education and the prevention of communicable diseases.
Among the diverse activities planned are skateboarding, surfing, farming, and programs designed to teach students about the environment, literacy, health and human rights issues. Students are asked to pick the activity that most interests them. Then, by developing their own skills, they will be able to discover ways to help others in their community.
The conference has gained support from several companies and communities in Bali and beyond including Surfer Girl, Volcom, Eco Bali, Motion Skatepark, Soul Surf Project, as well as the Republic of Soap and Chok Chok Chocolate. International organizations Greenpeace and Avaaz are also set to join the activities, with five speakers scheduled to give inspiring talks.
Canadian Rob Dyer is a champion skateboarder who travels the world to raise awareness about health and cancer in teens through his Skate for Cancer (SC4) foundation. Escape artist Scott Hammell creates dynamic presentations for kids with stories and examples of how the right motivation can help you achieve anything. Indonesia’s Nila Tanzil runs Taman Bacaan Pelangi (Rainbow Reading Gardens) — an Indonesia-wide literacy program. Martyn Denis is an intern working with the United Nations in East Timor, and Robi Navicula is an environmental activist and front man of the indie Balinese rock band Navicula.
Much more than speakers
But aside from the speakers, the conference is also filled with on-the-ground activities.
On Saturday following the opening at Canggu Community School, students will be invited to join activities including skating with Volcom and Tin from Skateistan, a beach clean-up with Surfer Girl and Eco Bali; a river clean-up with the Green School, surfing with Soul Surf Project and more.
A passion fair showcasing products from environmentally conscious business establishments is also in place with participants from Eco Bali, Bombastix Plastix, Surfer Girl and more.
At the end of the conference, students are expected to be well-informed and equipped to initiate practical approaches to solve environmental and humanitarian challenges in their home communities. These may include creating a fundraising sports tournament or setting up a reading group with local school children, or it could be using their love of the ocean to inspire them to care more ocean clean-up and marine conservation, especially important in Bali, where so much rubbish ends up washed onto the beach.
Denham is optimistic that the conference will inspire the young people who attend to continue to reach high levels of achievement throughout their lives.
“As a friend pointed out, it is precisely these experiences in young people’s lives that can open up new avenues for creativity, consideration and future careers,” Denham said.
“They say the business world needs young people who have global awareness in every industry. Those who understand not just profit but the implication of profit. It’s very exciting to think that we can plant these seeds through holding this conference.”
With so much press in Bali focused on what has been lost to tourism, this conference is the opportunity to turn that around and look at what has been found, a community of young people, who may not be attached to the “old” Bali but are working toward a sustainable future for Bali today.
As published in The Jakarta Globe: