Chinese proverb inspires conference legacy

At Engage with China’s Good Cop Bad Cop climate change ModelUN conference 2022, everyone learned a Chinese proverb, namely that,

“a tree planted now will provide shade for future generations.”

Proverb shared by China Delegate 04 at Good Cop Bad Cop 2022

Engage with China was so inspired by this Chinese wisdom that the charity set about how to leave a lasting legacy from its environmental conference this year. Good Cop Bad Cop2 ModelUN conference was to take place on 20 January on the cusp of Chinese New Year. Hosted by The Grange School, Cheshire, the conference involved 200 students from around the world, including China and the debate focussed on climate change. As trees play a vital role in CO2 capture but also provide shade and beauty in gardens, an idea to plant a tree seemed to be the perfect fit.

Working with Georgina Britten-Long, Deputy Lieutenant for Worcestershire, H-J Colston-Inge, Director of Engage With China and a resident of Worcester, asked how the charity could be part of the Queen’s Green Canopy project (QGCP) in the county?

“People might not realise it, but we consume and enjoy many things that originated from China. Tea and porcelain for example – but also cherry trees and other plants in the English country garden. The lasting gift of a tree will also be to build better Chinese cultural understanding,”

said H-J Colston-Inge, Director at Engage with China

After various conversations, arrangements were made to gift a cherry tree to each of the two local schools participating in the Model UN conference.

The King’s School Worcester and Christopher Whitehead Language College were delighted to receive the trees last week but the first to be planted out was with the help of the eco-council at KSW’s prep school, King’s Hawford. On Monday 23 January after H-J had delivered a Chinese New Year assembly to the whole school, the tree was planted in the school’s new ‘Royal Garden.’ Tom Butt, Headmaster, said,

The assembly was interactive and pitched perfectly for our pupils, who were able to learn more not just about Chinese New Year but the environment, innovation, food and wider Chinese culture. We are so grateful for the donation of the beautiful cherry tree, which our Eco-Council has planted on the Top Field at King’s Hawford where, as the Chinese proverb says, “a tree planted now will provide the shade for future generations”. With sustainability and global citizenship at the heart of all we do at King’s Hawford, this was a perfect start to the week!

QGCP was created by Her Majesty the Queen in 2019 during her Platinum Jubilee year to encourage tree planting – not only in the UK but in the commonwealth generally, creating a legacy in honour of The late Queen’s 70 years on the throne, and to benefit current and future generations. “In Worcestershire alone,” said Mrs Britten-Long, “we will have planted about 100,000 trees, all carrying different stories. This is a really special one.”

Published by H-J Colston

H-J is Joint CEO of Chopsticks Club and a regular speaker on China. Through training and events, she has been building cultural literacy about China from the boardroom to the classroom since 1993. She designed and delivered a “Doing Business in China” course at Pearson Business School. She was invited to meet President Xi Jinping during his state visit to the UK in 2015 in recognition of her work in building China-UK relations. She has a degree in Chinese Studies from the University of Durham. Find out more at and

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