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August 2007 Issue
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Rachel takes on global eco-challenge


Double degree Law and Environmental Studies student Rachel Cain was one of just a handful of young people from the Asia Pacific region invited to bring a new perspective to the sustainable management of Thailand's Mae Klong River Basin.

With two other Australian students, Rachel was selected to attend Eco-Minds, the Asia Pacific youth environment forum organised by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in partnership with Bayer, the multi-national chemical, healthcare and technology corporation.

In Thailand, the group of 27 young people heard from a variety of speakers including Clean Up Australia founder and environmentalist Ian Kiernan AO, before heading for on-site study of the river basin, west of Bangkok.

"We started upstream where the river is dammed for hydro-electric power generation and then worked our way downstream," Rachel said. "Further downstream is a diversion to supply drinking water for Bangkok. The main contentious issue is that people downstream are missing out on the water for use for their livelihoods - it sounds familiar, doesn't it?"

Back in Bangkok, the students worked together to form recommendations on how the river basin should be managed sustainably, presenting these on the final day to a panel of local university professors and representatives from UNEP and Bayer.

"We hope the recommendations will also be presented to the Thai Government," Rachel said.

For the fourth-year student, the environmental forum was another step in what has been a driving passion since primary school.

At just 14 Rachel joined the Youth Environment Council of SA, where she still mentors other members. This work, together with her academic abilities, helped win her the title of Lions Youth of the Year for SA in 2003.

At the start of 2007 Rachel travelled to Costa Rica on a voluntary program to help save endangered leatherback turtles. Over the past two years she has also worked part-time for the Department of Environment and Heritage in environmental education.

Further information on the Eco-Minds program can be found at:

Story by Robyn Mills

To find out more about Law or Environmental Studies at the University of Adelaide, visit Open Day on Sunday 26 August.

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