ENVIRONMENT: Youth Share Best Practices at Tunza

  • by Kanis Dursin (bandung, west java)
  • Wednesday, September 28, 2011
  • Inter Press Service

Representatives from each delegation briefly explained the state of the environment in his or her country, ongoing government programmes and youth initiatives to deal with emerging environmental problems.

Participants were given opportunities to seek clarifications from the young speakers or query initiatives in a particular country.

'We are here not to criticise government inactivity, we are here to know environmental initiatives that youth in different countries have taken,' a participant said at the first plenary.

Around 1,300 children and youth from 120 countries are gathered here to attend the five-day United Nations International Children and Youth Conference on Environment, a bi-annual event held since 1992.

UNEP executive secretary Achim Steiner said on Tuesday that world leaders have to take into account the interests of children and youth in making public policies as they make up more than half of the world’s current population.

Steiner said that the conference, with the theme ‘Reshaping Our Future Through Green Economy and Sustainable Lifestyle’, is aimed at increasing awareness of emerging environmental problems and sharing best practices in dealing with the climate change.

Plant more trees, clean up rivers or beaches, reuse, reduce, and recycle, limit use of fossil fuel, conserve energy were among the subjects of presentations that were compelling as they were based on real actions taken by children and youth.

The Cameroonian delegate, for example, showed a video on the involvement of children and youth in planting trees and cleaning up a beach, while a Pakistani participant talked about how university students were encouraged to plant trees.

'In Pakistan, we initiated the ‘one student, one tree’ programme. Students go around towns and villages and ask every householder if he would allow the students to plant a tree in front of the house,' Muhammad Zeeshaan, 24, of Pakistan, said.

'Whatever the response, the students get a chance to explain the importance of trees in fighting climate change,' said Muhammad, who has been working as a United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) volunteer for the past two years.

A delegate from Bangladesh said youths in his country have been spearheading a campaign against the use of plastic bags, while an Indian speaker talked about a move by cabinet ministers and chief ministers in India to donate a month’s salary to environment programmes.

Over the last two days the participants have been involved in discussions on various environmental issues including alternative green energy, sustainable development, and the role of the green economy in eradicating poverty.

Ismini, a 17-year-old Greek girl living in Singapore, said the discussions have made her realise that 'we children and youth can make a difference in our own little ways.'

'I now know what green economy is and how the carbon trade works,' she said.

'Our house in Greece is located in a farm and I am very glad that I am attending this conference as I now know the importance of planting trees,' she said.

Rishabh Singh, an 18-year-old participant from India, said the discussions showed that environmental problems the world over were the same and 'therefore we have to share best practices.'

'I now realise that spreading environmental awareness must be done in small groups in order to be effective and that the rights of indigenous people must be respected,' Singh said.

Changing lifestyles is not easy 'but we have to start small, and we have to start now,' Singh said.

David Alani, a 13-year-old Nigerian boy, said he learned from his Indian friend how to use water produced by air-conditioner to water plants.

'I never thought of it and I think Nigerians never think of using air-conditioner water for their plants,' Alani said. 'After listening to the Indian speaker, I began to think of how to catch rainwater for my plants at home,' said Alani.

Anita Ndu, a nine-year-old expressed gratitude that she had been invited to attend the conference. 'I learned that planting trees can prevent erosion, and that industries have to treat their waste instead of dumping it into rivers or beaches,' she said.

© Inter Press Service (2011) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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