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Story094 2017 Naor Tal Alfassi Berman1

A Kiwi teen serious about sustainability

Nikki Mandow
Photo Credit: David Tong

Na’or Tal Alfassi Berman was the youngest member of the NZ youth delegation chosen to travel to Morocco to the annual leaders meeting for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Eighteen-year-old Na’or Tal Alfassi Berman has been more active around sustainability than most people are in a lifetime. Nikki Mandow finds out what drives the young environment leader. 

When new Auckland Council Youth Advisory Panel member, 18-year-old environmental campaigner Na’or Tal Alfassi Berman, says he wants to host a party, he doesn’t mean a barbeque and a few beers in the back garden with a bunch of mates. Alfassi Berman’s planned event is a full-on summer beach festival potentially in Auckland’s Orakei Bay – 5000 people, local upcoming bands like entertainers, food and stalls. But most of all, Berman sees his festival as a chance to promote what he believes is a critical sustainability message to people that might not normally be listening.

“When you get involved with the environmental movement, often you are talking to people who have the same beliefs you have. That’s easy. What’s more difficult is pushing these ideas with people who don’t feel comfortable with them. My plan is to have 50 volunteers walking around having conversations with the festival goers about sustainability.”

“There are plenty of non-converted to preach to. Lincoln University’s 2016 report Public perceptions of New Zealand’s Environment found only around 40 percent of Kiwis believe they have a “good” or “very good” knowledge of environmental issues. Less than 25 percent participate in an environmental organisation, and of those, only 13 percent are active members. And even the views we have are often incorrect.

More than 80 percent of survey respondents thought New Zealand’s biodiversity was moderate or good, when the Department of Conservation lists almost 2730 threatened or at risk species. Conversely, we worry increasingly about fish stocks – the number of people thinking marine fisheries are badly managed has increased markedly over the last five years. But in fact the study suggests our performance is improving. “In 2015, 96.8 percent of fish caught were from stocks that are not overfished.”

Alfassi Berman sees his place on the Youth Advisory Panel as an opportunity to do more for the environment. And that’s with a bar set high – he may be only just legally an adult, but he’s been more active around sustainability in his short years than some of us are in a lifetime.

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