The Elders

Guest blog

Meet the Youngers: Marvin

“I believe in the power of each individual no matter how cruel the political and economical system may be.”

As he joins the Elders+Youngers debate ahead of the Rio+20 summit in June, climate change activist Marvin talks about his experience of promoting sustainable development in China and his efforts to raise awareness about these issues among students and young people.

Bangkok, Thailand, April 2011, I attended the negotiation session and here I am standing in front of the logo. We were doing video shows for our website to give our audience a quick update what had happened that day. I completed seven blogs and nine videos that week.

As a undergraduate student majoring in Diplomacy, I am always very concerned about international issues especially when it has long-term effects on everyone on this planet. Therefore, I feel it's my responsibility to look into and understand climate issues, while sharing my observations with Chinese friends back at home. I tell them what's happening in our eco-system, why the international community cannot achieve a consensus, and how can we make the situation better by changing our lifestyles.

Bangkok, Thailand, March 2011. I am standing at the front gate of the negotiation venue. All the negotiator trackers tried to find the national flag of their own countries. Here's China!

Beijing, China, July 2011, I was interviewed by a magazine on college students. The picture was taken near the Greenpeace office.

Beijing, China,October 2011. Motivated by the YOUNGO at Cancun 2010 (youth constituency at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), I founded a local volunteer group, Big Appetite Network (BAN), to promote a more open and free approach to engage anyone interested in charity work and civil society discussion. Before the Durban negotiation, we organized a salon on climate science and politics responding to emerging climate sceptic voices. I stressed how ridiculous it was to label the UN climate talk as a conspiracy against China.

Adopt a Negotiator project (AaN) is a platform for tracking international efforts to respond to climate change as part of the Tck Tck Tck campaign initiated by the Global Coalition for Climate Action (GCCA). Since 2010, I started to track the United Nations climate negotiation closely and later became the Chinese youth tracker of AaN team. I am standing with Ms. Kelly Rigg, the Executive Director of GCCA, on her visit to Beijing. She had just accepted my interview and shared with me her vision of a sustainable development future.

April 2010, I was helping to chair a volunteer training session for a local grassroots organisation, Friends of Migrant Workers, which mostly works on the education issue of migrant children in Beijing.

The most valuable lesson I learned in my first year at the college was taught at the invisible area of Beijing, illegal migrant children school. Broken desks, over-crowded classrooms and poor education conditions. As a fresh student, I was totally shocked by the picture in front of me and decided to make some changes. With help from local grassroots organisations, I initiated a international volunteer program to teach those kids everything from how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS to painting.

Hi, I'm Marvin Nala (那拉荣泰) from China. I'm 23 right now and completing an internship at UNDP China (United Nations Development Programme) and Tsinghua-Carnegie Center for Global Policy. My life’s dream is to leverage the power of emerging civil society for a more sustained environment in China.

I was brought up at a city near Shanghai, which became known as the "Paradise of China". When I was a boy, my father got me up early every day and pushed me to exercise in those pretty hills around the West Lake. The memory made my heart remain with the landscape even when I left the city later, and the motivation of all the work I am doing has its origins in the peace and love I can find from nature.

At about 10 years old, I started to go litter-picking with my playmates around the neighborhood. Later at my senior high school, I was the major organiser of an environment protection club which ran lectures, water quality assessment, and waste recycling. Then I spent most of my time working with local grassroots movements. I worked on various issues including HIV/AIDS, child education and climate change. In my first year of college, my friends and I went to 10 schools for migrant children near Beijing and delivered HIV/AIDS protection courses to more than 5000 students from age 10 to 18.

Since the summer of 2010, I started to track the UN climate negotiations and kept promoting sustainable development by blogging, interviews and lectures from the perspective of a normal Chinese youth. After that, I spent two months with Greenpeace on renewable energy development. In addition, I also organised a volunteer organisation called Big Appetite Network, providing public discussion space and volunteering information.

I believe in the power of each individual no matter how cruel the political and economical system may be. And in the context of the Chinese society in transition, it got me even more motivated as I'm accompanied by so many young activists who are exploring innovative solutions in various social aspects.

Views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Elders or The Elders Foundation.

Introducing Marvin
Elders Quotes Mary Robinson

I’m fascinated to read how our young colleagues are raising awareness of sustainable development in their own countries.

Marvin, you are truly doing some remarkable work to bring up these issues with your peers. And it is inspiring to see how you are using new media to widen the space for public discussion in China.


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