International Children's Conference 22 May 2002, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Friends,

I am delighted to be here today, to welcome you to the 4th International Children's Conference. We are most grateful to our hosts, the city and university of Victoria, our sponsors Tetra Pak and ENCORP, the Junior Board, and all those who have supported the Conference in one way or another. Without them we would not be here.

It is an honor for me to be with you today. The energy here is uplifting. I am sure that over the coming days this energy will grow, and lead to great creativity. This is why UNEP is so interested in working with the young people of the world.

I hope that the conference will be fun for all of us, and that it will also bring about new action for the environment.

This conference has special significance: Declaration for WSSD: voice children's concerns in Johannesburg - two of you will also attend as part of UNEP's delegation-together we will make sure that your messages reaches the world

It also comes just after your governments met at the United Nations to discuss how they can make the world a better place for you to live in.

What else is new this week?

- Publication of the Leave It To Us magazine-your magazine- without your contributions it would be empty

- Publication of Pachamama, teacher's guide. Pachamama is a publication on the state of the environment for and by young people from around the world. To ensure that your teachers help you to know more about the environment, we have developed a teachers guide for Pachamama.

- Publication of Survey of children's views on the environment

- Publication of Children in the New Millennium: Environmental Impact on Health (UNICEF, UNEP, WHO) - Looks at the impact of the environment on children and their health and calls for action to reduce environmental problems.

- Environmental Picture Booklet for children developed by UNEP and the Foundation for Global Peace and Environment. This has used paintings from the International Painting Competition on the Environment for children which UNEP and the Foundation organizes every year.

Let's just talk about the survey

This survey shows that you are very aware of the environment - therefore we have reason to hope that the future of the planet is in good hands.

Air pollution - 4 out of every 10 children who participated in the survey consider air pollution to be the most threatening global environmental problem, and 1 out of every 5 thought that it was a problem in their community too.

EXAMPLE cars

European Union: 1 car for 2 people

Germany: 1 car for 2 people

Canada: 1 car for 2 people

Nigeria: 1 car for 250 people

Indonesia: 1 car for 79 people

How can you use cars less?

Car pool, use public transportation, use bicycles, walk, encourage your parents, relatives and friend to do the same.

Disappearance of resources: Desertification, deforestation and water taken together, were identified by 2 out of 5 children as being the most threatening global environmental problems.

EXAMPLE: Water

1.1 billion people-no access to clean water

Many children will never enjoy a glass of clean water

Lack of clean water: 230 deaths per hour

Daily use

Poor: use 10 lt. daily - taken from a standpipe

Rich: use 250 lt. daily

In some places one litre of water is more expensive than a litre of petrol - imagine if you could not afford clean water

** Nairobi : municipal supplies $.20 - private vendors $2.00 (per cubic metre)

US cities: $0.40

How can you conserve water-pollute water less?

EXAMPLE: Waste: (Canada, 14 kg waste per week (2kg per day)

1 in 3 children see garbage disposal as the most serious environmental threat in their community.

How can you reduce your garbage?

Who is responsible: More than 5 out of 10 children feel that ALL people are responsible for both the global and local environmental problems

Need for change

In a lifetime 1 person in an industrialized country will consume and pollute same amount as 30 -50 people in a developing country - the world cannot support this trend

Action for change: 1 in 3 children takes part in clean up activities to help solve environmental problems. 1 in 4 recycles (reduce waste by around half).

Overall message:

· You have a very clear picture of the state of the planet, and what action needs to be taken.

· Everyone here has good ideas - share them - persuade others - lead by example

· You are already doing a lot for the environment, continue your action and get your friend and relatives to join you in TAKING ACTION for the environment.

· Learning by talking and doing

· Rich experience: meet as many people as possible - continue the contact after you leave Victoria-e-mail, electronic network, "snail"mail - global green team

You can make a difference, especially at a local level. I therefore encourage you to stay optimistic and energetic. To question the state of the world and its future.

I encourage you to never give up hope of making a difference, but instead to always push forward and ask, "Why not make changes?".

Every year UNEP presents a number of outstanding individuals and organizations with a Global 500 award for their outstanding contribution to the environment - young people are also eligible. Since 1998, 5 young people and organizations, who participated in previous children's conferences have won the Global 500 Award (a number of previous child delegates have won the prize)

We also have lots of plans for working with you after the Conference. You will all become part of our global network for children. You will be able to publish information about your activities in our regularly magazines for children and we will be working with you and your schools to organize campaign on tree planting, recycling and other environmental issues.

I wish you all the best for the task ahead, over the coming days, weeks, months and years, and I look forward to sharing your ideas at this conference.


 

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