Student to Represent Canada at World Youth Think Tank

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Written by Lori Bona Hunt

A University of Guelph student is one of three young Canadians selected to represent the country at an international gathering of young leaders and activists in England.

David Lawless, a first-year student studying biochemistry, will join 60 students from more than 40 countries Jan. 18 to 24 for the annual "Road-to-Davos" Conference in Guildford sponsored by the British Council.

"The forum is obviously a great opportunity for me and I am very honoured to represent Canada," Lawless said. "To be going to England to meet with 60 other young activists will be immensely satisfying and inspiring.

The youths, aged 16 to 19, will discuss challenges facing the world and their communities and brainstorm about potential solutions. They'll participate in workshops, exercises, discussions and debates, with topics ranging from climate change to intercultural conflict to world poverty. They will also elect six youths to represent them at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 28 to Feb. 1.

"I hope to discuss and raise awareness of major environmental concerns that threaten our planet's welfare," Lawless said. "It will be fabulous to speak with dignitaries, such as Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and discuss the possible solutions to many environmental and social challenges that humanity faces."

Students are selected to attend the conference based on their involvement in their schools and communities. "We're really impressed by the Canadian students we have selected," said Martin Rose, the Ottawa-based director of the British Council Canada. "Not only are they incredibly bright and articulate, but they also have an astounding range of interests."

Lawless has worked with the Ministry of Natural Resources on environmental projects involving more than 20 regional conservation groups. Recently, he and two friends won the National Boreal Achievement Award for a music video they made about conserving Canada’s boreal forest, earning them recognition in the House of Commons and written acclaim from scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki. Lawless has also produced films encouraging environmental and social activism.

In 2006, Lawless won the John Muir Environmental Conserver Award in recognition of his efforts and dedication to Envirothon, an international program exploring environmental science issues. "I hope that I can instill a sense of environmental responsibility in each youth delegate and a sense that pursuing environmental sustainability is a worthy ideal," he said.

David Lawless

519 824-0022, Ext. 76805

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, , or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982,

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