Kiwi teen drives awareness around sustainability

July 7, 2017 by Keren Cook
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An Auckland teenager has been a proactive environmental campaigner and has some ambitious plans to raise awareness around the environmental movement through local festivals.

Na’or Tal Alfassi Berman

“My plan is to have 50 volunteers walking around having conversations with the festival goers about sustainability,” says Berman.

Na’or Tal Alfassi Berman, 18 years old, has an Israeli father and a South African mother. He is determined and focused. In his early years learnt Berman learnt about social justice through the life journey of his parents.

“I realise nothing’s for free. They only way to get what you want is to work hard and stand up for what you want,” says Berman.

Berman is passionate about sharing his beliefs with the wider community. He says: “ When you get involved with the environmental movement, often you are talking to people who have the same beliefs you have. That’s easy.

“What’s more difficult is pushing these ideas with people who don’t feel comfortable with them,” he says.

These issues are topical. A Lincoln University 2016 report Public perceptions of New Zealand’s Environment found only around 40 percent of Kiwis believe they have a “good” or “very good” knowledge of environmental issues.

The report also showed that less than 25 percent participate in an environmental organisation, and of those, only 13 percent are active members. And even the views we have are often incorrect.

Berman is actively engaged with the new Auckland Council Youth Advisory Panel and sees this as an opportunity to do more for the environment.  His devotion to the cause dates back to his secondary school years. As a Western Springs College student, Berman led a team, which put together a political-environmental debate, involving MPs including Jacinda Ardern, David Shearer, Julie-Anne Genter, Marama Fox and Andrew Bailey.

In late 2016, he was the youngest member of the NZ youth delegation chosen to travel to Morocco to the annual leaders meeting for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change know as Cop22. He met Helen Clark while there to discuss sustainability.

Berman sees his place on the Youth Advisory Panel as an opportunity to make a difference around environmental issues. He is confident the beach festival can offer great value and says there is council support around the opportunity.

For Berman, the project will require solid planning and involves a raft of bureaucracy – health and safety plans, toilets, transport and food licences, and includes a tsunami evacuation plan.

Having contacts on the council will help and he says: “I’ve already expressed my interest in running the event and they were all ears.”

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