COP 17: Climate Change Awareness and Education Side Event:
1 December 2011 The United Nations team (UN Headquarters, UNICEF, UNESCO, FAO, UNEP, the World Bank and other UN agencies) in collaboration with international NGOs - Earth Child, World Association of the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) hosted a powerful side event on Climate Change Awareness and Education for Youth.
Youth groups arriving for the event
The event which was moderated by UNEP Spokesperson, Mr. Nick Nuttall, was graced by a panel of ten youth environmental enthusiasts, an environmental educationist from Massachusetts University and over 150 members of the audience attending COP17 in Durban. The dynamic and highly engaging event showcased the environmental work undertaken by the panel members in their communities, universities and cities towards mitigating and adapting to climate change.
Nick Nuttall from UNEP moderating the event
The panel challenged the youth to set the pace in adopting green actions and lifestyles and to become true environmental role models to other young people. "The first commitment should start with us even before we ask governments to commit to climate change" said Isaac ... from Nigeria. Ella Bella ... a UNEP Tunza youth leader from South Africa urged the youth to adopt sustainable lifestyles which are environmentally sound while Megan ... from WAGGGS Canada highlighted the important role girls can play in conserving the environment. Sabika Mu... from India, the UNEP TVE video competition co-finalist, emphasized that it is time the youth "walked the talk" and implemented sound environmental actions in their countries. She resounded that "No action is small and if everyone is committed to action there would be fewer environmental challenges. Teddy Ruge, a young business enthusiast from Uganda reiterated the power of youth in mitigating climate change and other environmental actions.
The members of the audience, both young and old shared their experience and engaged in discussions on youth and environmental education and awareness raising. Dr. Anamarija Frankic, a University lecturer from the USA agreed with the youth on the importance of awareness creation and education for youth. She alluded to the power of information in environmental action.
The meeting provided a platform for the launch of the Youth Xchange Climate Change and Lifestyles Guidebook, and the Youth Xchange Teachers Guides publications developed by UNEP and UNESCO. The booklet looks at practical ways on living sustainably and calls on youth to commit to a sustainable lifestyle. The Teachers' guide is a useful tool for teachers and educators on sustainable lifestyle for youth. The book can be found at http://www.unep.org/publications/search/pub_details_s.asp?ID=475
Forrest Whitaker addressing participants from the video screens
At the end of the meeting the youth committed themselves to the following:
- To be environmentally responsible and engage in environmental actions in school and in their communities
- To promote locally produced goods - buy locally
- To observe a sustainable lifestyle and consume responsibly
They asked the governments and learning institutions to:
- Include environmental education in the school curricula and to provide resources for implementation
- Education for sustainable development as a compulsory subject as of pre-primary/ primary school levels
- To lobby for same with Governments.
- To include children and youth in national party delegation to meetings such as COP (UN to impose Governments).
- Start an environmental clubs and ensure school facilities calculate and reduce carbon footprint