From April 2-20, Peace Boat US held the second instalment of its Sailing for Sustainability programme, developed to offer youth from the United States and around the world the opportunity to gain firsthand experience in issues related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including environmental degradation, indigenous culture and gender equality. As special participants of Peace Boat's 97th Asian Voyage, youth joined in programming both at sea and in ports of call throughout Southeast Asia, with a special emphasis on SDG 13 (Climate Action) and SDG 14 (Life Below Water).
Six youth were selected from a pool of international applicants based on a demonstrable commitment to advancing the SDGs. With the support of Emilie McGlone of Peace Boat US, the second cohort of the Sailing for Sustainability programme was comprised of Sabrina Oliveto (United States), Keneth De Gracia (the Philippines), Maria Mejia (Guatemala), Avinash Singh (India), Sade Dean (Barbados), and Ivonne Daniella Izquierdo Rodriguez (Mexico). Joining them were Dr. Richard O'Meara and Sonam Tashi from Rutgers University's Division of Global Affairs, with whom Peace Boat US has recently signed an agreement in support of future instalments of the Sailing for Sustainability programme.
Programme participants had the opportunity to visit Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, and Viet Nam, to witness and participate in a variety of peace and sustainability initiatives. In Singapore this included a visit to Citizen Farm, whose model of sustainable urban farming employs underutilised spaces and supplements traditional rural agriculture. Programme participant and organic farmer Keneth De Gracia was inspired by this clever integration of self-sustainable agriculture and urban density. "There's a myth that organic farming needs more space than traditional gardens," said Mr De Gracia, "but Citizen Farm is proof that this isn't the case. Their model can be replicated across the Philippines and throughout the world." Maria Mejia was similarly affected. "Seeing some of Southeast Asia's most innovative projects and meeting the other scholars in my cohort has really impacted me and will change to way I pursue my own projects back home."
Avinash Singh has worked in northern India with Waste Warriors, a community-based waste management initiative, since 2013. In Cambodia's Kampot Village, he heard the testimony of Mr. Himm, a mangrove planter forced to live apart from his family to find employment. The situation reminded Mr Singh of his own experience growing up apart from his parents. He joined the Sailing for Sustainability programme to gain skills which would help him realize a better future for those in his community. "Life is about dreams," he said, "and not just supporting your own, but the dreams of those who can't realize them for themselves."
For Emilie McGlone of Peace Boat US, the dialogue created through global travel is integral to Peace Boat's own mission of peace and sustainability. "Travel is not only an opportunity to learn about social and political change, but a tool for change in itself. Our partnerships with local organizations and agencies demonstrates the value we place on sustainable tourism. When done responsibly, travel can be of equal benefit to travellers and the host countries that welcome them." It's a bold aspiration, but according to Mr Singh, that's the kind that Peace Boat inspires. "If there's one thing I'm going to take home from Peace Boat, it's that I need to dream bigger."