Children Challenge World Leaders on the Environment
Aichi, Japan, 29 July 2005 - 600 children from around the world gathered for the UNEP Children’s World Summit for the Environment in Japan are challenging the world’s leaders to pay higher attention to energy, biodiversity, and water and recycling. At the same time they all commit themselves to environmentally friendly actions to make a difference for the future.
The world summit for children was organized by the United Nations Environment Programme, with His Imperial Highness Prince Akishino of Japan as the honorary president. The prince’s family, including two daughters, also took part in activities during the program, which was held in the Aichi Prefecture in Japan.
The 600 delegates, ages 10 to 14, came from 65 nations, many of them from developing countries. Learning and sharing experiences on important environmental issues was the main purpose of the meeting.
“We commit ourselves to saving energy and using renewable energy sources” say the children in their statement. They also challenge the leaders in a petition, asking them to “create and enforce laws to improve efficiency in production, consumption and conservation of energy”. They demand that the leaders set examples also in the issues of biodiversity, water and waste processing.
At the closing of the four-day summit on Friday, UNEP Deputy Executive Director Shafquat Kakahel promised that the children’s message would be delivered to the UN Secretary-General. He also assured the children that their message included on a 14 meter long canvas will have a prominent place in front of the UN headquarters in New York to remind the world’s presidents and prime ministers of the hope of the children for a better environment.
“It is difficult but not impossible to work for a green future”, says one of the delegates, 13-year old Marisa Tania from Indonesia. In her home town Surabaya she says she cannot see the blue sky due to air pollution and the river Kalimas is badly polluted. During the meeting in Japan she has learned about solutions on environmental issues from the many new friends she made. It has inspired her to continue work for awareness in her ecology club at home, she says.
During this final day of the summit UNEP announced that the next Tunza Children’s Conference on the environment will be held in Putrajaya, Malaysia, in August 2006. The 2008 Tunza conference will be held in Stavanger, Norway.
The meeting in Japan has also elected new junior board members who represent the children in the preparations and take responsibility for preparing the messages to the world leaders. New members are Ranjani Dharmarajan, Kenya; Oyatogun Oluwafumilayo; Nigeria Jessie Mehrhoff, USA; Arwa Omary, Lebanon; Nikolas Theofilidis, Greece; Alejandro Posada, Colombia; and Angel Chui, China. Malaysian Hana Azizan, Syaza Salen, Jes Ebrahim and Zainal Najeem will also join the junior board in preparations for the next conference.