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On the Road to Davos

Biochemistry student to join international gathering of young activists in England

BY LORI BONA HUNT

A University of Guelph student is one of three young Canadians selected to represent the country at an international gathering of young leaders and activists in England.

David Lawless, a first-year biochemistry student, will join 60 students from more than 40 countries Jan. 18 to 24 for the annual Road to Davos Conference sponsored by the British Council.

The youths, aged 16 to 19, will discuss challenges facing the world and their communities and brainstorm about potential solutions. They will participate in workshops, exercises, discussions and debates, with topics ranging from climate change to intercultural conflict and world poverty.

“I hope to discuss and raise awareness of major environmental concerns that threaten our planet's welfare,” says Lawless. “It will be fabulous to speak with dignitaries such as Prime Minister Gordon Brown and discuss the possible solutions to many environmental and social challenges that humanity faces.”

The Road to Davos program was created in 2006 in co-operation with the World Economic Forum to foster youth activism on global issues. Students are selected based on their involvement in their schools and communities.

Lawless has worked with the Ministry of Natural Resources on environmental projects involving more than 20 regional conservation groups. Recently, he and two friends won the National Boreal Achievement Award for a music video they made about conserving Canada's boreal forest. It earned them recognition in the House of Commons and written acclaim from environmentalist David Suzuki. Lawless has also produced films encouraging environmental and social activism.

In 2006, he won the John Muir Environmental Conserver Award in recognition of his efforts and dedication to Envirothon, an international program exploring environmental science issues.

“I hope I can instil a sense of environmental responsibility in each youth delegate and a sense that pursuing environmental sustainability is a worthy ideal,” says Lawless. He adds that he hopes the Road to Davos Conference will help provide additional strategies for engaging other youth in activist issues.

During the forum, participants will share their experiences and ideas with a wider audience via the website www.global-changemakers.net.

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