This morning, the international students presented an environmental issue from their country. Throughout the week, our delegates will address these issues in small groups while practicing Design Thinking processes.

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The Chinese students presented first, and their issue was on water pollution. The Yangtze River is polluted from agricultural, industrial, human, and vessel-source waste.

“I was nervous to present because it was the first time that we have presented in front of a large group of people, but I thought we prepared enough and did very well.”

-Jerry J., China

The Indian students discussed the pressing issue of land degradation caused by overpopulation. India’s population of 1.25 billion is well over carrying capacity, which leads to a need for more resources; this lack of food leads to overuse of agricultural chemicals that destroy the land and actually deplete resources.

“We were a little bit nervous, but everyone seemed to think that we were doing well. People laughed a couple times, so we were getting some really positive vibes. I think that people enjoyed our ‘fun fact’ that described how 50 million people are on the brink of starvation, which is more than a sixth of the United States population.”

-Divyansh G., India

Malaysian students presented the problem of coral reef destruction, which is detrimental to the economy and well-being of their country because of tourism and food sources. The reefs are stressed due to changes in their environment like sea temperatures, salinity, and acidity.

“It was really fun to present a problem that most people don’t know about but is so important to our country. Malaysia’s biggest tourist attractions are the coral reefs, so we really need to propose a solution to their destruction.”

-Sam L., Malaysia

The Kazakh students gave their presentation on pollution from factories in their country, including mercury waste and runoff. It is a large scale issue because people drinking the water become sick and cannot always work.

“I thought that the Kazakh presentation went really well. I did not know that some parts of the Nuro river are still filled with mercury, and that the river’s water can not be used for the production of food.”

-Gillian L., USA

Mexico is considered to be one of the most biodiverse countries in the world; however, deforestation and excessive logging are becoming major problems. The students explained that excessive logging is in practice because of the outward expansion of society.

“This is a big problem because Mexico loses so many hectares of forest per year. The wood from excessive logging is used for commonplace and necessary things, so the government can not completely outlaw the practice. It is a very complicated problem.”

-Kenta O., Mexico

The girls from Lebanon spoke about water pollution and the effects of waste on different water sources.  Pollutants from stockpiled trash seeps into the ground and contaminate ground water, leading to the statistic that 8 out of 10 people in Lebanon consume polluted water.

“Earth has already lost a significant amount of its water to pollution, and Lebanon’s polluted water is only adding to that number. Also, even the 20% of us that don’t drink the contaminated water are still affected by this crisis.”

-Bylasan A., Lebanon

The Moroccan delegation discussed the deterioration of coastal marine life in their country. The Moroccan people rely heavily on seafood for their own consumption, but also for seafood exportation. Destructive fishing practices, climate change, and sediment pollution all contribute to the deterioration of coastal marine life.

“Morocco’s geography definitely impacts the entire population. Because we live on the coast, nearly everyone is dependent on marine life. Our presentation was creative, yet accurate.”

-Younes R., Morocco

The Italian students described how the city of Venice is actually “sinking.” What is referred to as “Acqua Alta,” the high waters and flooding of Venice had come to a halt in the 1970s but has recently resumed. Motor boat wakes, giant cruise ships, and and many other factors linked to tourism are considered to be sources of the flooding.

“I had no idea that this was a recurring issue in Venice. For some reason I didn’t even consider the fact that cruise ships for tourism could be causing these high waters, but hopefully we will have some great discussions this week about solutions to the problem.”

-Anna J., USA

The South African students presented the effects of mining on the country. Leakage of chemicals used in the mining process have started to leak into ground water, which has lead to contaminated and acidic water sources. In addition, soil degradation and sinkholes are also closely related issues.

“The agricultural industry has to deal with many of these issues because as land continues to be degraded, the cost of production increases. It is very hard on farmers.”

-Mpu R., South Africa

The Spanish delegation informed the international students of the extinction of the Iberian lynx. Contributing factors to the lynx’s extinction include the extinction of its food sources, poaching, car accidents, and others. There are programs in place that provide millions of dollars to the establishment and protection of lynx habitats, however the effectivity of these programs are less than 50%.

“The Iberian lynx is nowadays the most endangered feline in the world, so we need your help to study potential solutions.”

-Elena M., Spain

Morgan B. and Parker C. discussed the decline of the honey bee population in the United States. They taught the rest of the students about how many foods, including almonds, are dependent upon bees, and without the bees the foods would disappear completely. Several main causes of bee colony loss are pesticides, insecticides,

“Before the presentation, I didn’t realize bees were an endangered species and that they play such a large role in the growth of products like almonds and onions.”

-Gillian L., USA