More than 100 students from various Asian countries will be challenged to look at pollution through the perspectives of sustainability and climate change at this year's STEP-NUS Sunburst Environment Programme. The annual event, established in 2013 to educate and ignite passion for environmental conservation among students aged 13 to 15, is being held from 21 to 25 November.

Pollution, climate change and global warming are among the numerous environmental challenges that the world faces today, said Professor Leo Tan, Director (Special Projects) at NUS Science, and Chairman of the Singapore Technologies Endowment Programme (STEP). As researchers, policy-makers, corporates and citizens work hard to address these issues, initiatives like the STEP-NUS Sunburst Environment Programme play a pivotal role in educating and inspiring our youths to become future champions in caring for the environment.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, and Ministry of Health, was the Guest-of-Honour at the Opening Ceremony for the programme, held on 21 November at the RELC International Hotel. In her opening address, DrKhoremphasised the detrimental effects of climate change on the environment which will impact our way of life, as well as how sustainable habits can reduce these negative consequences.

As consumers and individuals, we have a responsibility to make the right choices to create a sustainable future, said DrKhor. And we have the power to make a difference through our everyday actions. For example, to reduce the time we spend in the shower by a minute, or to segregate our waste from recyclables. These may be simple and small actions, but collectively, they will add up and have a positive impact on our environment.

Students from Singapore and Southeast Asian countries, as well as China, India and Japan are taking part in the programme, which includes lectures, workshops and educational site visits. They will have the opportunity to visit the MacRitchie Nature Reserve, SungeiBuloh Wetland Reserve and St John's Island National Marine Lab, as well as learn about conservation and the Singapore whale at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) at NUS. At the end of the programme, students will be divided into teams and tasked to demonstrate their understanding of climate change and sustainability through written essays, oral and poster presentations.

AnanyaMalhotra, a 14-year old student from India, shared her enthusiasm at being able to participate in the study visits and to learn from the various speakers. She also looks forward to learning about other countries, what problems are going on in their own countries and how they solve their problems. Ananya hopes to use the knowledge gained to spread awareness of environmental conservation in her own country.

Singaporean student 15-year-old Kim Jung Woo from NUS High School of Mathematics and Science shared similar sentiments of spreading awareness. This programme is for people who already are interested in the environment, he said. We need to learn how to get this information to those who are not as interested. His team hopes to work with their teacher to spread a message of conservation in their school after the programme.

The STEP-NUS Sunburst Environment Programme is organised by STEP in partnership with the NUS Climate Change and Sustainable Environment Research Initiative hosted by the Tropical Marine Science Institute and LKCNHM at NUS.

Source: National University of Singapore(Press Releases)