Yes we can! Obama was not the first to use this empowering sentence. Roger Baud founder of ACTIS, a spin off of ETHZ, already used it in 2000 to promote the first Youth Encounter on Sustainability (YES) course.
Bring 35 young people from all around the world together for 17 days. Hold interactive classes on sustainability from 8 am to 8 pm. Look what comes out. Discussions, case studies, games and paintings develop the understanding of sustainability of the participants on different levels. Basic numbers reach the mind – world population is growing exponentially – and discussions about these numbers engage the heart. What is our responsibility towards future generations?
A group from the YES course joined the World Resources Forum 2011, bringing some color into the black-grey suit panorama. At the World Café organized by YES, students sat with participants and speakers of the conference to debate about resources and sustainability. For once, discussions did not only take place at the coffee break, but were part of the programme.
I interviewed Rasmus Einarsson, coordinator of the YES program and asked him:
What is YES and why did it change your life?
Why is YES so special?
What could the conference setting learn from the YES approach?
Who rules the World and what do we need? – Interview Rasmus Einarsson, YES coordinator by Studentreporter
The main message of the interview is that we need an interdisciplinary and multicultural setting that allows different perspectives to meet.
I compared the list of participants of the WRF (400 people from 25 countries) and YES (33 participants from 25 countries). A forum with strong multicultural participants, and a balance of gender, backgrounds and ages changes the setting through which solutions are developed. This is essential to address the significant problems we face, as:
“they can not be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”