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All along our route across Asia we will aim to discuss the issues such as waste, water and energy conservation with young people. We are well aware that the way we put our message across could prove more important than what we actually say, so we will start by finding out about the everyday lives and problems of local people and go on to introduce environmental issues first on the level of their town or village, then on a national and finally planetary scale. Not forgetting that the planet’s principal polluters remain in the developed world, we will do all we can to avoid a moralising neo-colonial tone of the "we will show you how to do it" kind. On the contrary, a critical look at our Western homeland will help us demonstrate that an alternative direction of development is necessary. Our encounters with local people who are helping find that direction by pursuing more sustainable ways of life will be used as examples both to locals and to Westeners on our return. We will choose the schools to work with both before leaving and during the journey. A variety of educational tools could help get our message across - questionnaires, theatre and slide shows on climate change in developing countries or pollution in major European cities, material from our own website, etc., could all come in useful, but will be adjusted according to the audience and the available resources. We will do our best to create a laid-back atmosphere to encourage easy communication. English and Russian will be our main working languages, with the help of local English teachers for translation wherever necessary.
Having researched major envioronmental problems along our route, such as the over-exploitation of resources in parts of China, pollution in Indian cities or the plundering of Russian national parks, we will make contact with key local actors who could take the development of each area in a more sustainable direction. Through interviews with organisations, companies and individuals we hope to highlight sustainable initiatives, show the people and situations that led to their conception, the obstacles overcome, as well as present and future socio-economic impacts. Interviews with locals suffering the consequences of a development that has often been far from sustainable will complete the picture.
The develotour.fr website will let Westerners learn from the developing Asian countries about sustainability, as well as getting
Primary, highschool and college students can get involved by following and participating in our Asian journey through the interactive blog. By posing questions they will be able to engage with us as well as the inhabitants of Asian countries we meet and explore issues of sustainability in a much more personal and direct manner than reading about them in a book. In the region of Rouen in Normandy, where Hervé has been teaching for the last three years, 63 schools (primary, highschool and colleges) are engaged in a sustainable development scheme with the goal of obtaining the title of "Sustainable development establishment." We will contact those responsible for coordinating the scheme in the relevant schools.
Thanks to our linguistic abilities events can be organised in a number of countries including France, the UK, Spain and Poland. We can start planning some conferences and meetings already, such as participation in the 7th Sustainable Development Week in June 2009.