On June 17, the UNCCD Virtual Choir Competition Awards Ceremony was co-hosted by the UN and Korea Forest Service along with the celebration for the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, commemorating the 10th year of the UNCCD Changwon Initiative.

The awards ceremony was held at the festival yard of the Sejong National Arboretum in Korea. Korea Forest Service Minister Nam Sung-hyun, Mongolian Ambassador to Korea Erdenetsogtin Sarantogos, Chairperson of the Korea Arboreta and Gardens Institute Ryu Kwang-soo, and National Sejong Arboretum Director Lee Yoo-mi attended this event along with the representatives of civil society such as Green Asia Network and Northeast Asian Forest Forum. “Korea is the major partner with the UNCCD, which is taking the lead in preventing desertification. Land and forests are the foundation of our lives and the source of ecosystems. It is urgent to take appropriate measures to protect them,” said the Korea Forest Service Minister in his opening address. He actively promoted the concept of “Forest Renaissance” which is to develop the economic, social, and cultural values as well as the environmental value of forests. He also suggested to continue working with ASEZ and to appoint university students as ambassadors of forest. Mongolian Ambassador to Korea Erdenetsogtin Sarantogos commended Korea’s efforts for resolving international environmental issues, saying, “I want to learn the experiences and lessons related to climate change response, especially to desertification and land degradation.”

Pyo Gi-sang, Director of the Church of God University Student Volunteer Group ASEZ, said, “I hope that our small activities will be an opportunity to raise environmental awareness. We’re going to carry out environmental cleanups and tree-planting more actively. Furthermore, we’re planning to create mangrove forests to preserve marine ecosystems.” ASEZ member Cho Yeong-bin said, “The theme song of this competition is ‘Born From the Land.’ I think our daily life is the greatest gift from the land because our lives can be more prosperous and beautiful by living in harmony with the creatures on the land.” ASEZ member Mun Seo-yeong said, “Music has the power to move people’s hearts. When we promote environment through music with a concise message, we will be able to exert influence on more people.”

Forests are the future of humankind, and so are university students. In order for the students to protect the future of all humanity, they need to think about what their thoughts and actions will bring about in the future. ASEZ students will work not only for their own good, but for the good of their communities and all people, making efforts to bring changes to their campuses and communities.