Caption: Participants of the pilot session for the Eco-Internship progamme.
Twenty four young conservation champions were awarded Certificates after successfully completing an intensive three day program focussing on environmental stewardship by WWF South Pacific.
The International Eco-Internship Program (EIP) is a campaign developed by the WWF Network to develop a sense of civic responsibility amongst its participants.
The pilot session saw the 24 participants take part in a three day workshop that included interactive activities and discussions on topics such as Environmental Issues in the Pacific, Nature Photography, Documentary Making, Green Journalism and Solid Waste Management.
Keeping in mind the lack of opportunities for young people to get actively involved in environmental conservation in Fiji, WWF South Pacific worked with WWF Pakistan, to secure a coordinator to help with the assessment, development of the modules and subsequently running the pilot session of the program.
WWF Pakistan International Eco-Internship Coordinator, Hamza Malik, said the program has been very successful in Pakistan with more than 10,000 students having graduated and he hopes similar success with Fiji?s replication on the project.
?The program is beneficial for conservation work as it inculcates civic responsibility among the youth of Fiji.?
He added the program was also an opportunity for its participants to be affiliated with a global organisation like WWF and further broaden students? scope as responsible custodians of valuable natural resources.
Participant and Climate Change Post Graduate student at the University of the South Pacific, Devika Raj, applauded WWF South Pacific for introducing the program in Fiji.
?It is a really good initiative because it is targeted at young people,? she said.
?The program teaches you to be sustainable in a creative way and if we can get young people to be passionate about the environment, it will be good for the country,? Miss Raj added.
John Carrean, a Marine Studies Post Graduate Diploma student at USP, also praised the program and said it has helped him grow as a WWF Volunteer.
?It has made me better understand and broaden my interest in environmental conservation and made me appreciate my surroundings more; especially mangroves.?
?For the documentary making segment of the training, we went out to the mangroves in Nasese to record our images and that activity has generated my interest to work on more environmental documentaries,? he said.
WWF South Pacific launched the pilot session to gauge the potential for the program in Fiji and identify the interest of the private sector in supporting environmental education initiatives.
The response has been overwhelming with the Bank of South Pacific and the University of the South Pacific, Quality Print and AU Graphics being the major supporters of the program. The involvement of the private sector has spurred on other likeminded institutes who have also indicated an interest to support the program when it comes into full implementation.
Future plans for the program include implementing a three-tiered approach where the program, in addition to tertiary level students, will be offered to corporate organisations for staff, as well as primary-level students.
The program is earmarked to be six weeks long and will give participants an insight into the eco-dynamics of the region, environmental issues and offer sustainable solutions to the problems. It will also include in depth presentations by experts on a diverse range of topics including Marine ecosystem, water conservation, renewable energy, nature photography and documentary making.