Deeply rooted in our BCIS Mission is our commitment to 'the sustainable development of the world' and this school year I am proud of our BCIS community for stepping up to this challenge.
We know, because the world and the statistics are telling us, that we are facing challenges never seen before. According to American Association for the Advancement of Science, "Based on well-established evidence, about 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening."(1) We know that if we sit back and leave it to others to face these challenges, things will likely continue to decline at a rapid rate. That sounds quite alarming, doesn't it? Well, the truth is, that the situation is quite alarming.
BCIS is proud to be a member of the Beijing community, the China community and the worldwide community. We know that we cannot simply leave it to others to go forth and do good work that will benefit Beijing, China and the world's long-term sustainability; we have to be part of the solution now and moving forwards.
You will see when you visit BCIS that there is a strong sense of understanding around the need for sustainable practices but, crucially, you will see real action in and around both of our campuses! Some examples of action in this area are...
·fewer single-use plastic items - something we are working towards eliminating entirely on campus;
·reusable mugs and cups around campus, rather than paper/plastic cups;
·gardening at the ECC rooftop garden, understanding what our earth provides for us;
·a commitment to not ordering take-away food to be delivered to BCIS, thereby cutting down on the huge amount of packaging that accompanies food delivery items;
·limited printing of materials, re-using and recycling paper, and limited laminating of materials;
·reducing food waste in our cafeterias by liaising with our food provider on portion sizes;
·our conscious collaborations with more sustainable partners for special events such as markets held on campus;
·numerous student projects aimed towards reducing the effects of climate change.
Recently, our Elementary School Eco-Warriors threw down the gauntlet and invited our whole community to participate in the first BCIS Climate Action Week. What is important to note is that this was student-driven action, which is the best type of action and this is becoming a world-wide trend. As noted in the Community for Accredited Schools online, 'student activism has surged in the last decade, with young campaigners calling on leaders both on and off campus to right wrongs, erase inequalities and secure the future of our planet.'(2) This is the call to arms that is needed!
Why is it so important that our students are driving action? We see the calls for climate action from young people, most notably at this time Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish environmental activist, and we should feel inspired. I certainly do. I quoted Greta Thunberg when I addressed the faculty at the opening of school: "I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is."(3) This is powerful, and she is right – we do need to act as if the house is on fire and work towards contributing to extinguishing that fire.
We aim to empower our students to be leaders, not just leaders of tomorrow, but of today. BCIS is a thriving environment where students can experience what it is to take meaningful action, with their teachers, parents and peers around them to help navigate the intricacies and learn from their experiences along the way. We are seeing this action, and learning, take place more than ever and we are proud of our students for their leadership, their understanding and care. We see our students being empowered and this is certainly an area where we know they are being challenged by responding to real-life problems.
Our hope is that when you become a member of BCIS, you will know what it means to be responsible and take necessary action, whether it be on a small scale or a large scale. You will understand the necessity for us all to contribute to the health of our planet. You will know that each and every one of us, as single individuals, can make a difference and can influence others to do the same.
I hope all of our BCIS families understand the urgency of action for sustainable practices, take these practices into their homes and into the homes of their friends and beyond, so that we can all work together to ensure our world is safe for us now, and for the future. #BCISsustainability
2. Community for Accredited Schools online: Student Activism In School Getting Your Voice Heard, Resources, Inspiration And Expert Advice For Making A Difference On And Off Campus
3. Greta Thunberg, World Economic Forum, Davos, 24 January 2019