In 1955, Won Kyung-Sun, a Republic of Korea farmer, founded Pulmuwon - a self-reliant, charitable organic farming community with the goal of increasing food production in sustainable ways, which also would guard against food contamination. His first step in establishing Pulmuwon was giving up his land titles and donating his property to the community.
At 80 years of age Won is still putting his life's energy into promoting organic farming as well as battling environmental destruction in an effort to alleviate poverty. He is revered as the father of Republic of Korea's organic farming movement and his influence on the Republic of Korea farmers has been far-reaching. Over the years, he organized education initiatives promoting agricultural reform.
Today, his former students are practicing organic farming throughout the country and have developed alternative agricultural technologies. They distribute their products widely through consumer cooperatives, providing people with ample amounts of safe food. In 1990, Won joined the Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice (CCEF), and in 1992 he represented CCEJ at the Earth Summit. Upon returning to the Republic of Korea, he established the CCEJ's Centre for Environment and Development which has worked with the Government to promote policies concerning recycling, pollution control and alternative energy development that adhere to sustainable development principles.
Tatyana Fyodorovna Stepanenko
In 1975, when Russian Tatyana Fyodorovna Stepanenko went to work at Vodokanal, a state enterprise in St. Petersburg, she set her sights on finding ways to limit levels of waste dumped into the Newa River system and the Baltic Sea. She wrote, "... the sewage waters of industrial enterprises of St. Petersburg are discharged without any surveying whatsoever...". Soon after, not only did she find high levels of extremely polluted waste water discharged by industry, but many of those industries were part of the defense complex. Her work posed enormous challenges: environmental protection was not high on the policy agenda and the defense industry was not obliged to follow the few environmental regulations in place. Tatyana Stepanenko persevered. In the end, she established an information collection system of the industrial waste dumped into the water. The findings prompted the Government to draft regulations for industry that included supervisory measures and a system of fees structured according to a polluter pays principle. The goal she set out to achieve took 18 years. The policy Tatyana Stepanenko helped develop is now in force in all Russian townships. But this is not the end of her story. In 1994, she established a fund for the fees collected from polluters to finance projects to improve the ecology and urban environment. Today she is director of Vodokanal and organizes seminars to educate industry about protecting seas and waterways.
"It was two years ago that Mr. President announced his plan to ride a bicycle instead of a limousine for the purpose of keeping the air clean. His secretaries, however, did not agree with his adventure, worrying for his safety. Nevertheless, he just went on riding and nothing could stop him."
So goes just one of the 18 tales included in a book of environmental children's stories written by 13-year-old Wahn Lee of Korea. The book - 130 pages - took him three years to complete. At the beginning of his project, Wahn carefully researched his stories' protagonists. He went to libraries and the Government Offices of the Environment to find facts on environmental problems as well as earthworms and ants - one of his favourite subjects. He also designed the book's jacket and painted the pictures it features. Wahn carries his concern for the environment beyond the book's pages. Last year at school, where he was president of the student body, he helped manage a recycling store that generated profits used to buy food and clothes for a senior citizen's home.
Since 1991, Wahn Lee has received numerous awards and prizes in recognition of his environmental activities, including the prevention of water pollution and recycling (1991). Utilization of waste materials and the invention of a central heating apparatus using burning waste (1991); use of waste materials and its economic benefits which awakened people's consciousness (1992); recycling campaign (1992); recycling campaign using waste from left over food (1993); campaign dealing with the sandy dust phenomena from China which has had a negative impact on Korea's environment (1995).
The awards were given by the Ministry of the Environment, the Korean Boy Scouts Federation, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Invention Association. He has done a great deal to promote environmental awareness through the media, and has been interviewed on radio, television and by the print media on numerous occasions.
Fatih Yilmaz comes from Eastern Anatolia, one of the least developed regions in Turkey. He is a young and dedicated environmentalist both in his school and in his village. He is a founding member of the environment club which is active in tree planting and beautification projects. Together with this Club, he planted over 10,000 trees in his village where most people are illiterate. He initiated an erosion control project in the farm land by forming a barrier with shrubs and trees.
In 1993, he participated in an essay competition organized by the Turkish Foundation for Combatting Soil Erosion, Reforestation and the Protection of the Natural Habitats (TEMA), and his paper on soil erosion: Causes and Losses won second prize. Fatih, in cooperation with TEMA, informed the local community about gully erosion and its prevention.
He continued to be a successful mobilizer of his community and the resources available to them. He organizes workshops to raise environmental awareness, and speaks about environmental problems in local radio and television stations. He also lobbies and gives proposals to the provincial municipality on proper sanitation and infrastructure, in an effort to prevent pollution in the nearby river. Fatih initiated recycling activities in the area, and has contacted the local traffic police to prevent noise pollution.
Evergreen Club of Ghana
Evergreen Club of Ghana (ECOG) was founded in 1987 as a voluntary children's club with the aim of beautifying school compounds. Today, ECOG is a national non-governmental organization working with youth groups and children and with a grand mission to include adults in a unique partnership for environmental protection.
Through classroom presentations, interactive demonstrations and practical exercises, ECOG encourages the young to learn about the importance of conservation and the role they can play.
ECOG has members in all regions in the country and works with a number of government institutions, local NGOs and international organizations. ECOG was involved in the preparation of Ghana's environmental plan of action (1991 and 1994), and organized the first National Youth and Children's Forum on Environment for the Earth Summit (1992). In the same year, it produced and launched the first recording album on the environment.
Every year since 1992, it has undertaken national environmental awareness campaigns and since 1994, it has involved a number of young people in forestry projects. In 1997 and 2000, it organized the first and second national conference on forest management for youth. In 1993, 1994 and 1995, members of ECOG participated in international leadership programmes for youth and children in Geneva and the United States of America, and in 1997, they participated in the Africa Regional Meeting of the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development in Cameroon. In 2000, ECOG was a participant in the Youth Forum at the International Conference on Climate Change in The Hague.
The organization also publishes Evergreen News a newsletter on environment and sustainable development. ECOG was the winner of the National Forestry Week competition in 1996.
Youth Award Winner in 2001
The Jose Marti Pioneer Organization, established in 1961, is a volunteer organization through which more than one and a half million young Cubans undertake environmental protection activities. Some of its 278 activities include: avoiding fires in forests and meadowlands through environmental education in schools; ensuring that bonfires are extinguished correctly; participation in the creation of medicinal and fruit tree nurseries to create new forests; organization of World Environment Day (WED) activities; sending environmental protection messages through the mass media; preparation of audio-visual materials on the environment for all Cuban schools; production of the weekly "Be up-to-date" news programme; and the design of an educational programme on conservation for schools.
In 1992, the Pioneers initiated a movement whereby a number of activities are undertaken including the clean up of schools, parks, monuments, forests, rivers and seas, as well as recycling efforts. Every year on WED, half a million Pioneers participate in a national campaign to promote environmental protection. Pioneers have developed painting, song and writing contests on the environment in schools, and for one month every year, Pioneers in Secondary Schools participate in agricultural activities, such as the cultivation of crops and the cleaning of fields. Secondary School Pioneers also participate in various environmental clubs with different themes, such as Friends of Nature (9,421 members), The Animals and Me (7,396 members) and The Lungs of My City (5,683 members).The Pioneers have created didactic games, which offer solutions to environmental problems and help enhance the environmental vocabulary of eight year-olds. The organization also produces a number of publications on environmental conservation.
Youth Award Winner in 2001
The Khohlooa, Matholoana and Likobo Herdboys are groups of herders in village communities in Thupa-Kubu, Berea District in Lesotho. Though a disadvantaged group of Basotho society, they are the day-to-day managers of the environment.
Their involvement in natural resource management has come about as a result of their concern over the limited supply of forage in grazing areas in their villages, which has resulted in poor livestock yields. The herders have carried out simple soil and water conservation measures, such as the building of silt traps and the planting of Kikuyu grass to reclaim dongas. They also keep bees for honey-producing purposes in their respective areas.
While herding, they have prepared 7,000 holes to plant trees for fuelwood and shade, and, to date, they have managed to plant 1,300 seedlings. They have also built a dam to collect water for their animals and to irrigate fodder and vegetables. In 1998, they motivated herders from 21 villages to undertake soil and water conservation activities.Thanks to the efforts of the Herdboys, there is less trespassing on pasture-land, fewer quarrels over communal grazing areas, and the burning of village grazing spaces has been reduced.