Under the Starry Sky: Sailing Towards Sustainable Change

The Journey of 100 Young Visionaries on Statsraad Lehmkuhl.

In a world where environmental challenges and social inequalities continue to loom large, the need for innovative solutions and passionate changemakers has never been more pressing. Over the course of eight months, a group of 100 young people from 20 different nations embarked on a transformative journey, receiving project management training and carrying out sustainable projects in their home towns, provinces, and entire countries. These young visionaries, guided and coached by the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) participated in the Under the Starry Sky program hosted in collaboration with SpareBank 1 SMN, and the UN Association of Norway, have not only witnessed change but have actively become agents of change. Their remarkable journey culminated in a transformative expedition on board Norway’s largest and oldest sailing ship, the Statsraad Lehmkuhl. Here, they not only learned to navigate the seas but also embarked on a voyage of self-discovery and global transformation.

The Path to Sustainable Change: The Power of Education and Training

The journey of these 100 young individuals began long before they stepped foot on the deck of the Statsraad Lehmkuhl. At the beginning of their adventure, participants came up with a project idea, they submitted it to WFUNA and after a strict selection 27 teams were identifies and they took part to training session on project management and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This intensive training equipped them with the skills and knowledge necessary to turn their sustainable visions into reality. Each project was a unique response to local and global challenges, demonstrating the diversity of ideas and dedication among these young changemakers. During 6 months from April to August, the participants had monthly check ins with WFUNA to present their progresses and receive guidance on how to overcome roadblocks, fundraise to support the expenses they incurred and on how to reach out to potential stakeholders.

The foundation of their journey rested on education and training. It was not enough to simply have a vision for a better world; these young visionaries needed the skills, knowledge, and tools to bring their ideas to life. The intensive project management training and assistance they received by WFUNA was a pivotal aspect of their preparation.

During this training, they delved into a multitude of essential areas:

  • Project Planning: Understanding how to set clear goals, create project timelines, and allocate resources efficiently was key. This foundational knowledge equipped them with the ability to organize and execute their initiatives effectively.
  • Team Collaboration: Sustainable projects often require teamwork and collaboration. Participants learned the art of working with diverse groups, harnessing the strengths of each member to achieve common objectives.
  • Resource Management: Effective resource allocation was emphasized. This involved not only financial resources but also human capital, time, and materials. Learning to maximize resources was essential for the success of their endeavours.
  • Problem-Solving: Project management is not without its challenges. Young participants were equipped with problem-solving skills to address roadblocks and adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Communication: Effective communication was recognized as a cornerstone of project success. Participants learned how to articulate their visions, engage with stakeholders, and convey their messages persuasively.

Local and Global Challenges as Catalysts

The heart of their journey lay in their projects. These projects were not mere exercises but passionate responses to pressing local and global challenges. Each project represented a unique approach to addressing real-world issues, highlighting the incredible diversity of ideas and the unwavering dedication present among these young changemakers.

For instance:

  • Environmental Preservation: Some participants were deeply concerned about environmental degradation and initiated projects to combat it. Their projects ranged from recycling initiatives to tree planting campaigns, all aimed at preserving natural ecosystems.
  • Social Equality: Others were driven by the desire to address social inequalities within their communities. They launched initiatives to provide educational opportunities for underserved youth, promote gender equality, or support marginalized populations.
  • Sustainable Development: Sustainable development was at the forefront of many projects. Young individuals devised plans to create renewable energy solutions, implement sustainable agricultural practices, and reduce waste through innovative recycling programs.
  • Health and Well-being: Some projects were cantered around health and well-being, focusing on issues such as mental health awareness, access to clean drinking water, and the provision of healthcare services to remote areas.

The Journey Aboard the Statsraad Lehmkuhl: A Voyage of Transformation

On September 5th, the young changemakers gathered in Ålesund, their hearts filled with anticipation and determination. Their destination was not a distant shore but a journey of discovery and transformation aboard the Statsraad Lehmkuhl, a vessel that would come to symbolize their shared mission—to navigate the challenges of our world under the same starry sky, driven by a collective desire to create change.

Learning to Sail, Learning to Collaborate

The Statsraad Lehmkuhl was more than just a means of transportation; it was a floating classroom of life lessons. The vast Nordic seas and majestic fjords, stretching out before them, became the backdrop for their personal and collective growth. As they stood on the deck of this historic sailing ship, they were not just passengers; they were a community of changemakers embarking on a profound journey together.

Navigating the seas was a literal and metaphorical experience. Learning to sail required not only mastering the ropes and sails but also understanding the importance of teamwork and coordination. Each participant had a role to play, and their ability to work together as a cohesive team was a vital lesson in leadership and collaboration.

Daily Presentations: Reflection and Collaboration

Aboard the ship, daily presentations, coordinated by WFUNA and UN Norway, became a cornerstone of their journey. These sessions provided a structured platform for participants to reflect on their achievements, share their roadblocks and successes, and receive constructive feedback from their peers. It was a collaborative environment where ideas were refined, projects were strengthened, and innovative solutions were born.

These exchanges enriched their experiences and inspired new ideas and approaches. The collective wisdom of the group, combined with the diverse perspectives brought by each participant, ensured that every presentation was an opportunity for growth and improvement. It was a testament to the power of collaboration and shared knowledge.

Engaging with Local Communities and Companies

At each port they visited, the young changemakers extended their reach beyond the ship’s deck and engaged with local communities. They shared their stories and experiences with school students, inspiring the next generation of changemakers and fostering a sense of global citizenship.

Their encounters with central Norwegian companies were equally transformative. Companies like Sinkaberg Hansen, OCEANIZE, Glamox, and Aker Solutions showcased real-world innovations and sustainable solutions. These interactions exposed the young visionaries to the possibilities of a sustainable future and demonstrated how the private sector can play a pivotal role in driving positive change.

Norway’s Largest Innovation Camp

Their journey reached its peak at Norway’s largest innovation camp, hosted at Trondheim Spektrum. Here, alongside organizations like Ungt Entreprenørskap Trøndelag, the UN Association of Norway, and MOT Norway, they participated in a gathering of 1,500 students. This massive event served as a dynamic platform for knowledge exchange and mutual learning.

The camp reinforced the idea that change is a collective endeavour. It was a space where young changemakers could share their project implementation experiences, learn from others, and inspire a new generation of socially and environmentally conscious individuals. The spirit of innovation and collaboration that permeated the camp echoed the values that had guided them throughout their journey.

Wrapping up: the future is in the hands of the brave

The journey of these 100 young visionaries, from project inception to the expedition aboard the StatsraadLehmkuhl, epitomizes the power of youth and collective action in driving positive change. Their projects, ranging from sustainable materials and coastal clean-up initiatives to food rescue, barrier-breaking conversations, and renewable energy solutions, have showcased the diversity and potential of their generation.

As they navigated the seas and explored new horizons, they were not just sailing on the ship; they were sailing towards a future where sustainability, inclusivity, and innovation reign supreme. This journey is a testament to the impact that dedicated individuals can have when they work together with a shared vision, under the same starry sky, to create a better world.

Their voyage serves as a reminder that change is possible, and it begins with the passion, dedication, and innovative thinking of young people who refuse to accept the status quo. As we look to the future, let their journey be an inspiration for all of us to come together, overcome challenges, and create a more sustainable, equitable, and compassionate world for generations to come.

Check out the final video of the ship expedition:

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