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Champion of Environmental Education

Chemical and Biological Engineering Alumna Spreading the Gospel of Eco-friendliness and Sustainability

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2014 graduate Samantha Kong is inspiring the next generation to implement sustainable living.
2014 graduate Samantha Kong is inspiring the next generation to implement sustainable living.  [Download Photo]

It’s time to motivate young people to prioritize sustainability

Samantha KONG Wing-Man (2014 BEng in Chemical and Environmental Engineering) is 26 years old and knows that the future of our planet depends on her and other young people. Since graduation, the tireless environmental education champion has become involved in an expanding range of areas in order to play her part in sustaining that future – and encourage more of the next generation to join her.

In August 2018, her endeavors were recognized internationally by the North American Association for Environmental Education, Global Environmental Education Partnership, and US Forest Service, when she was named among the world’s 30 top changemakers under the age of 30 in environmental education (“EE 30 Under 30”).

Samantha makes her contribution in myriad ways. First, she has a full-time job in Hong Kong as an environmental engineer at SMEC Asia Limited, an international engineering and environmental consultancy.

At weekends, the energetic Hongkonger provides environmental education to build understanding of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), set in 2015. Samantha worked as a summer intern at the United Nations in New York in 2014, at the time the SDGs were being negotiated. She initiated the lessons in 2017 to encourage youngsters to create and implement action plans to achieve the SDG objectives.

In its fi­rst year, her pioneering SDG Junior Ambassador Program reached out to 1,200 primary students in Hong Kong and secondary students and teachers in the Philippines, focusing on topics ranging from clean water to affordable energy and climate action. In 2018, working in collaboration with the Hong Kong Girl Guides Association, the theme was environment, health and well-being.

She sees her city needs to work harder to change attitudes and values so as to address environmental issues, among them are effective policies on recycling and waste management. But she does not intend to leave because of this. “I plan to stay to make a positive difference to my hometown.”

As part of this ambition, she has continued to add to her own knowledge since her undergraduate years, earning a master’s degree in Sustainable and Environmental Design from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and now pursuing a doctorate in Environmental Policy and Education at the University of Bristol, UK.

Meanwhile, further community activities continuously widen her impact. Samantha sits on the Hong Kong government's advisory panels on youth development and environmental programs, is a columnist, and also a social entrepreneur. “Raising awareness and inspiring others to implement the principles of sustainable development in their daily lives is the real way to create change,” she said.

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This story was originally published in the SENG In Focus magazine (Spring 2019 edition, issue 30, P.29).