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Bond students accept Challenge to save Reef

Three Bond University students are preparing to take on some of the smartest minds on the planet at the World’s Challenge Challenge in Canada next week, tackling global issues of climate change.

The team of Isabelle Silberling, Jackson Silvester-Lee and Lacey Rowett will fly out on Friday (June 1) to present their I Can Save the Reef campaign to a panel of academic and community leaders at Western University in London, Ontario.

The Bond trio will be competing against students from universities around the globe for a first prize of $30,000. They will also be get the chance to network with some of the world’s brightest minds, participate in academic events and generate further discussions around international issues.

The students’ campaign, designed around saving the Great Barrier Reef, was born from a passionate and personal connection to one of the world’s seven natural wonders.

For Ms Silberling who grew up in the Whitsundays and Ms Rowett who grew up in Cairns, there is a deep-seated connection to the Reef which formed the driving inspiration behind the project.

“When you live near the Reef you go out to the Reef all the time,” Ms Silberling said.

“Over time we have seen the progression from the Reef being so beautiful, vibrant and colourful, to being really bleached.

“When I went out to the Reef in December in the holidays, I found it crazy how it had changed. It didn’t look anything like it used to. It was sad.”

With research showing that 90 per cent of the world’s coral will be dead by 2050, the I Can Save the Reef campaign is designed around five initiatives that are achievable and effective ways for people to reduce carbon and methane emissions.

Isabelle, Lacey and Jackson collectively represent all four of Bond’s faculties, with Isabelle in the fourth year of a double degree in Law and Commerce, Lacey in the third year of Law and Psychology, and Jackson in the second year of his Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science.

The three students were brought together by Bond University’s Transformer, Australia’s first program aimed at teaching big-picture thinking and creative problem-solving based on evidence.

Regardless of their results in the World’s Challenge Challenge, the students will continue to work on the passion program and look at further ways Bond can improve sustainability around campus.

“I would never have initiated the project without Bond University and the Transformer,” Mr Silvester-Lee said.

“It has given me a spark and an impetus to do something, getting me out of my comfort zone. I would not have done it by myself.”

“The resources of the Transformer are unparalleled, they are fantastic,” Ms Silberling added. 

“There are so many contacts that helped us with everything from research to public speaking.

“We are really looking forward to going over there, meeting like-minded people and having a global platform to share our campaign with.”

Built around the 17 Global Goals adopted by world leaders at the United Nations in 2015, the World’s Challenge Challenge is an initiative of Ontario’s Western University, designed to engage students from all over the world in thinking more about global issues and developing unique solutions.

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