Educating For Sustainability In Shenzhen: Helping Younger Travellers Develop The Awareness Of Ocean Protection

Shenzhen is a city of immigrants, setting up a prime example of urbanization and rapid economic growth in China. It is one of the Special Economic Zones situated in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) Region under the Reform and Openness programs which have operated since 1978, concentrating on local political economic investment and growth (Lin, 2017).

Figure 1. The dying Chinese white dolphin
Figure 1. The dying Chinese white dolphin

Moreover, Shenzhen is also a coastal cosmopolitan tourist city, receiving 116.3 million tourists in 2015 which increased 7.65% number of people than previous year (Shenzhen Municipal E-government Resources Centre).

Shenzhen has many coastal spots, including Mangrove Nature Reserve, Shenzhen Bay and a 15-kilometer coastal leisure corridor with Xiaomeisha and Dameisha beaches in the west, Dapeng Peninsula and Sea World in the east. It has more than 20 public beaches and Dapeng Peninsula was characterized as one of the eight most gorgeous coasts in China by Chinese National Geography magazine.

However, Shenzhen beaches have been badly polluted in recent year as a result of people’s unawareness in environment protections. Many travellers casually throw the rubbish into the sea, causing the quality of the water dramatically deteriorated and are not suitable for sea animals to live. It is reported that there are about 2500 Chinese white dolphins in the Pearl River Delta ten years ago, but the number has dropped significantly these years and other sea animals are also endanger as the result of the low quality water in Shenzhen beaches (Gidge, 2017).

Moreover, the rafts used in tourism will also have negative influence on the environment of the sea animals. Thus, we intend to educate the younger travellers with basic information about the ocean protection in order to raise people environmental protection’s awareness from the very beginning.

For the purpose of increasing people awareness and encouraging them to actively take part in ocean protection, I search many literatures and would like to develop some ideas which suitable for both the sustainable development theories and the actual situation in Shenzhen. First, I recommend Victor Nolet’s (2015) book because it helps me to develop the understandings about sustainable development and provides theoretical support for teaching other people knowledge.

Nolet (2015) encourages readers to develop sustainability worldview in teaching and learning process, changing their attitudes, choice, decisions and behaviours into achieving the fairness and equity which enhance resilience and health of individuals and the systems which all life depends, now and in the futures. He emphasizes the importance of individual power that if each individual personally engages with the work of creating the environment which develops well-being for all forever; therefore people would consider more about the impact of decision making and behaviours on other life now and in the future.

Consequently, I think the travellers’ improper behaviours of throwing rubbish in to the sea are as the result of lacking of the sustainable knowledge but they do not destroy the ecological balance in purpose.  Thus, it is requisite to teach them the necessity of respecting other life now and in the future and to show them how to practically protect the ocean environment when they travel. In addition, Nolet (2015) provides several specific pedagogies for teachers to teach sustainability worldview, helping the teaching process become systematic.

Another article I recommend is written by Dan Lin (2017): She underlines the importance of the policies decision in Shenzhen which could be shaped by the surrounding political considerations and act between government departments, society and nature. Lin (2017) also mentions the concept of “urban sustainability fixes” to locally implement policy agendas by capturing the dilemmas, opportunities and compromises created by the top-down policy discourse and bottom-up local governance.


Figure 2. Conceptualizing the decision-making rationalities for the designation of ecological spaces.
Figure 2. Conceptualizing the decision-making rationalities for the designation of ecological spaces.


Though developing sustainable worldview perspective is significantly important, the benefits of different groups of people could not be ignored in order to effectively carry out ecological conservation measures. Since, turning the consciousness of sustainable development into action is not only a transition in ecological conservation technology, but also a problem of creating a “biophysical fix” which reflects the government capabilities in balancing other demands and forces from the society (Lin, 2015) (see Figure 2).


There follow some video and image that inspire me to deeply think about the sustainability education, I believe the readers might share some common feelings with me:



The video and image describe the serious ocean pollution faced among the world that many sea animals including sea birds are suffering from the plastic ocean pollution, and the video introduces how plastics rubbish tortures the animals until they die. After dissecting the animals, we found many animals’ body were completely filled by the rubbish which throws unconsciously by the travellers. The rubbish will flow through the ocean current and be eaten by the sea animals.



The first video also shows an activity that letting people imagines a situation where they are trapped in a huge plastics bag and feel the pain that many sea animals have been through. It is the first step to achieve sustainability education, and this means to develop awareness of respecting and protecting other life. This video inspires me to design one of the activities, developing younger travellers’ sustainability worldview.



In the process, we will invite eight to ten students (age betweens six to twelve) to participate in a role play game where they need to imagine that they are the sea animals. They will be sent to a room covered by a large plastic fabric for the purpose of making the students to experience a similar feeling of asphyxiation which the sea animals have been through.

Moreover, there will also have some plastic barriers, setting up like the laser of the Figure 3 and the students are asked to go across the barriers to the another side of the room. Their parents will be invited to watch the activity to learn with students together. The room will be cushioned with soft floor mats to make sure students’ safety so that students could develop sustainable worldview and enjoy the activity at the same time.

In conclusion, I consider the process of developing sustainable worldview could start with the younger generation and they can learn the sustainable knowledge from all aspects of life but not limited to the formal education. The students should be provided with a visualized environment to experience empathy to the other life in the world.



Lin, D.(2017). Urban ecological conservation policy in Shenzhen: the production of a ‘Biophysical Fix’. Urban, Planning and Transport Research5(1), pp.38-58.

Nolet, V.(2015). Educating for sustainability: Principles and practices for teachers. Routledge.

Shenzhen Municipal E-government Resources Center.Tourism and Leisure. Available at: (Accessed: 18 May 2018)

Gidge, S. (2017).Rare Dolphins Appear in Polluted Shenzhen Waters, Media Celebrates. Available at: (Accessed: 18 May 2018)