KUALA LUMPUR: If you are passionate about the environment and want to be part of a movement to help Mother Earth, but do not know where to start or what to do, a Malaysian website will show you how.
The one-of-a-kind Malaysia Environmental Sustainability Youth Movements website, co-founded by Dr Jun-E Tan and her Argentine husband Leonardo Losoviz, is an innovative online hub for the Malaysian environmental scene and a platform for those who want to get involved
“There are many different activities and events happening in Malaysia, but these organisations are not connected. So we basically put all these environmental events and activities happening around Malaysia on a single platform so that everybody can access it,” said Losoviz.
“Our mission is to connect the green dots where different people, sectors, communities and ideas are linked together to create a bigger picture,” said Dr Tan.
“We’re giving people information so that they can participate and we’re urging people to participate by giving them the who, what, when, where, and how,” she added.
Empowering the novice
“We are trying to give you every single thing you may need for you to take action and take part in the environmental cause.
“We’re looking at empowerment, where the person who does not have the resources can join someone else who is already on the ground working on something. So you can choose to join someone else’s movement.
“For example, you like tree planting, you don’t know where to go, there are tree planters out there already. So you don’t have to build the whole thing yourself,” Dr Tan explained.
People are also encouraged to start their own environmental projects, like cleaning beaches, and invite others to join them, said Losoviz.
“This enables normal people like you and me to create something out of nothing. Five people might join you for your beach clean-up and something might be born out of that simple project,” said Losoviz.
“You can have a community taking care of something very precious for everyone,” he added.
The Green idea
The husband-and-wife team, who are both 31, told The Star Online that they are both passionate environmentalists and have always wanted to do something to promote the movement.
However, Tan studying in Singapore and Losoviz working in China was a hindrance to the planning of their environmental vision until they both settled in Malaysia.
“I always had an abstract idea about doing a bird’s eye view research on what environmental initiatives are out there,” said Dr Tan, a senior analyst at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia.
Losoviz, however, felt that the idea would be wasted if it stayed just a research topic.
“Because he’s a web developer, he thought that we can actually make this network come alive,” said Dr Tan.
Losoviz said he got the idea for Mesym through a global environmental initiative called Green Drinks, where a bunch of people who care about the environment meet up and have discussions.
While he was working on the website for Green Drinks Shanghai, Losoviz came up with the idea of creating Mesym.
“I wanted to bring people together, like an online representation of the Green Drinks movement,” said Losoviz.
So they combined his technical view and her research view into the idea for a website.
Initially, Losoviz and Dr Tan joined forces with Gene-Harn Lim, who had already created Mesym, and in 2013, transformed his personal environmental website to realise their vision.
Due to a busy schedule, Lim gradually left to pursue other matters, leaving Losoviz and Dr Tan to further develop the website.
Since then, the power couple have been hard at work. With help from volunteers, they launched their new version of Mesym in May this year.
“In the newest rendition of Mesym, we created a volunteering platform where users can share their experiences attending environmental events and volunteering,” said Losoviz.
“We are actually leaving the marketing to the volunteers. If it was a great volunteering experience, this person might want to show some pictures and talk about it, especially if it helps the organisation gets more volunteers,” said Dr Tan.
“It may also prompt the organisation to provide a good volunteering experience so that their volunteers will write about their experiences,” she said.
“This new website really wants to take the people offline and go do something. Talk about it online and inspire your friends to come along the next time you go again. This creates a virtuous cycle of more and more people doing good for the environment,” said Dr Tan.
Bringing like-minded people together
Dr Tan believes that environmental issues are not highly prioritised by Malaysians even though many issues of concern to us are linked to the environment.
That is why Mesym hosts documentary nights on the second Tuesday of every month to bring people from all walks of life together to discuss these issues.
“People and experts get together and watch a documentary, then discuss the issue, and come up with possible solutions,” said Dr Tan.
“It is really about people who want to learn about the situation with our earth right now. We aim to educate people by showing documentaries and we hope that this can spread to other parts of Malaysia,” she said.
Mesym’s next documentary night is on June 10 and they will be screening The End of the Line, a documentary on over-fishing, at Pusat Rakyat Loyar Burok in Pantai Business Park, Kuala Lumpur.WWF Malaysia’s manager of Peninsular Malaysia seas programme Gangaram Pursumal, and WWF Malaysia’s communications officer of Peninsular marine seas programme Nadiah Rosli will be present at the screening to discuss the local perspective of over-fishing.
More details can be found in Mesym's Facebook page or follow them on Twitter (@MESYM11).