The Paulson Institute and CCIEE Launch Children’s Education Initiative Promoting Water Conservation

Programming for children from preschool to high school aims to teach children and families about the importance of environmental stewardship


The Paulson Institute, in cooperation with the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), today announced the launch of a new nationwide education program for children in China to teach them about the importance of water conservation and their roles as environmental stewards. Through partnerships with Sesame Workshop and The Nature Conservancy, which have developed interactive content aimed at preschool through high school aged children, the joint initiative titled Kids Build Cities of the Future will reach children across the country beginning in 2013. The program will initially highlight water conservation and the simple steps that children can take to help conserve water.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. and Wang Chunzheng, Executive Vice Chairman of CCIEE unveiled the initiative at Baijiazhuang School in Beijing. Additional participants included Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia and President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors; Sherrie Westin, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Sesame Workshop; M. Sanjayan, Lead Scientist for The Nature Conservancy; and Mina Guli, Founder and CEO of Thirst. Also during the event, Thirst—a non-government organization promoting water conservation among youth and young adults—organized a group of children into a large water dragon formation.

“We too often think of water as an infinite resource – turn on the tap, and the water flows. But as the populations continue to grow, we must recognize that water is a finite resource and change our behavior to reflect that,” said Hank Paulson.

“Adapting our societies toward more sustainable economic growth is a core focus of The Paulson Institute, and I’m pleased to bring together similarly minded organization such as those here today to launch this effort to help make a real difference. Teaching children simple steps they can take to care for the environment builds lasting habits among youth and raises awareness among families, as well.”

2012.12.05_HMP and Big Bird

The education initiative announced today will consist of a long-term education program with an initial focus on water conservation and protection. The participating organizations will use television, Internet and social media platforms to engage the young generation with interactive and educational content, including a Public Service Announcement produced by Sesame Workshop.

“Water is critical to the sustainability of human life and urban development. It is thus of great significance to instill the concept of water conservation and environmental protection into the hearts of our children and cultivate environmentally friendly habits and behaviors,” said Zeng Peiyan, former Vice Premier and current Chairman of CCIEE.

“We are, together with the Paulson Institute, more than happy to launch this water conservation program here in China. We share the responsibility to protect the environment we live in and water resources we cannot live without. CCIEE will work in concert with like-minded organizations, both national and international, to create better cities and a better future for our children.”

Urban sustainability is one of the most significant challenges facing China today. Each year, over 10 million children and adults move from rural areas of the country to urban centers, representing the largest consistent mass migration in the world. We’ve seen many positive implications of this transition, from poverty alleviation to the promotion of greater social harmony. Yet for children moving from the countryside to the city—as well as other young people currently living in urban centers—the impact of city dwelling is significant.
Education programs on conservation and other sound environmental practices can help children begin to understand the critical role they play as environmental stewards in the natural world around them. The educational programs developed by The Nature Conservancy and Sesame Workshop are designed to help shape children’s attitudes and actions toward protecting the environment both in the short-term during their young years and over the long-term as adults.

“Children today are spending less time outdoors which negatively impacts their well-being and the future of conservation,” said M. Sanjayan, Lead Scientist, The Nature Conservancy, one of the largest international nature environmental protection NGOs. ?By using digital technology to bring nature into classrooms around the world, we’re hoping spark in our children a lifelong appreciation for all that nature provides, including food and clean water.” Jim Zhang, The Nature Conservancy’s Northeast Asia and Greater China Director, and Gensheng Niu, The Nature Conservancy’s China Board Vice Chairman, joined the VIPs and distributed the Caragana seed from TNC’s Inner Mongolia conservancy project to the students.

“Sesame Workshop’s mission is to use the educational power of media to help all children reach their highest potential,” said Sherrie Westin, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Sesame Workshop.

“Today, with our partners The Paulson Institute, China Center for International Economic Exchanges, China Association of Mayors, and Toonmax Media, we are working to develop a full-scale interactive campaign on the relevant issues in urban sustainability for preschoolers and their families. The first part we will focus on is water conservation and our goal is to help teach young children what they can do to conserve water. By demonstrating simple actions—like turning off the tap—children can play an important part in a much bigger initiative.”

“Getting teenagers and young adults knowledgeable about the world’s water crisis is critical if countries like China are going to meet the required amounts of water needed to produce the clothes we wear, food we eat and energy we consume,” said Mina Guli, founder and CEO of Thirst, a Beijing-based water awareness group.

“Thirst is working to educate a water-smart generation of consumers who will take personal actions to conserve and value water. Today was a fantastic opportunity to engage and excite these young kids about water by leveraging the power of Sesame Street and one of the most famous Birds in the world!”

To view the Sesame Workshop Public Service Announcement, click here.