Humphrey Bheki Mvula
The achievements of the Green Machine Nature Conservation Nature Club run by the Sunridge Primary School have to be seen in the light of the fact that it is managed by students belonging to one of the most under-privileged sections of the Republic of South Africa's society. Greening of the environment has gone along with efforts to improve the living conditions of the people. The first project aimed at uplifting the impoverished and informal settlements in and around the Knysna district. The Club organized workshops for the youth addicted to narcotics as well as soup kitchens for the hungry. Since the informal settlement is situated around a dumping site, a system was set in motion to exchange food packets for recyclable materials. This not only helped clean up the area, but also assisted the community in supplementing its income. For the second project, the Club created an indigenous park in the grounds of the school. As part of the project, the Club supplied trees to other schools in the area and helped another create its own indigenous park. Their third project was a campaign against waste, encouraging recycling. This was run concurrently with a campaign to enhance environmental awareness. Waste paper recycling bins were taken to businesses in the district and companies were asked to sign a pledge to recycle office waste paper.
Second Creek Environment Project
A few years ago, a squatter camp in East London was just another casualty of burgeoning political strife and unemployment in South Africa. It was a crude configuration of shacks amidst a wasteland of broken bottles barely distinguished from the adjoining municipal rubbish dump. Today, this settlement is ship-shape. The shacks are immaculately painted. The grounds are spotless and a vegetable ground dominates the area. This transformation is largely due to the work of children, specifically pupils of John Bisseker Secondary School. This is their biggest success story.
The school has been involved since 1991 in the Second Creek Environment Project. Starting with a small group of only 15, the project has now grown to encompass a human settlement of nearly 1,000 people. The Project's areas of involvement include monitoring the condition of the Second Creek river, regular clean-up campaigns, sorting of garbage for recycling, planting of trees and halting soil erosion. The group also assists the squatter community with food, conducts first aid courses and holds regular "enviro-clinics" to educate parents and children on environmental matters.
This project has inspired many individuals and organizations, both locally and further afield, to become involved in enhancing their environment. The squatter community has also benefited greatly from this association. The project won the Department of Education and Culture Environment Competition in 1991 and 1992.
Young Pioneers Environmental Monitoring Station of Daxinglu Primary School
In May 1990, the first Young Pioneers Environmental Monitoring Station was established at Daxinglu Primary School. Each week, the fifth grade students carry out investigations on acid rain, air, dust and noise pollution. The results of their findings are put to use based on information obtained on the noise and dust pollution near their school. They recommended that a three-dimensional afforestation plan be implemented and botanical gardens be planted to improve the school's environment. All the students are given basic environmental education. The school offers scientific courses and integrates environmental education with other subjects taught in the curriculum. The work they do is not merely self-serving. They take it upon themselves to voluntarily instruct local farmers on the importance of conserving trees as well as sustainable farming practices. They look after the school's flora and often leave campus to visit the neighbourhood inhabitants asking them to care for their environment. Through their surveys, sample collections and detecting, they are able to write up articles which meet the local need for information.
Herederos del Planeta
Herederos del Planeta (Inheritors of the Planet) is a Colombian youth programme designed by the Red de Reservas Naturales de la Sociedad Civil, an environmental network linking 85 reserves throughout the country. Herederos addressed the issue of inter-generational justice and aims to: motivate and train young people; create environmentally conscious and dedicated global citizens; and prepare future generations for the struggle to preserve the environment and the continuity of species. It has about 100 activists and more than 500 highly motivated followers. The most enthusiastic candidates are selected in each region and offered basic environmental training on the functioning of ecosystems. Exchanges are organized among the various nuclei around the country during school holidays, to provide motivation and to exchange experiences. Each nucleus organizes its own fund raising ventures to meet the costs of its activities. The Network today has a seed fund for small projects. Each member also publicizes the programme and its activities, excursions and courses among his/her schoolmates. The Sibundoy Valley Group collected funds to purchase a marsh area and turned it into a nature reserve so as to conserve a water source feeding into the local aqueduct. Each year, creative competitions are sponsored by Herederos in each region to solve a given environmental problem. Members of the organization are also invited to training events held by the Reserves Network.
A High School Student Group of Junior Journalists for Environment
Ten years ago teachers at the high school in Xuzhou Coalmine, a village in China's northern Jiangsu Province, got together with students to start a group of junior environmental journalists. It was an effort to raise the students' sense of responsibility about the world around them. Over the years, increased projects have focused mainly on public education activities. The group has held writing, photography, speech and story-telling contests, worked with the local environmental authorities to inform the public about subjects ranging from the harm of killing frogs and the illegal sale of its meat to protecting local rivers and lakes from wastes. The students also do hands-on work such as planting trees, organizing school clean-up campaigns, and attending extra-curricular classes on environmental protection. They even have an environmental summer camp when school is out of session. The field studies they have conducted have taken them far beyond the schoolyard. Since 1985, the group has travelled more than 10,000 miles. The students have surveyed major sources of pollution along the Kui River after which they wrote a report and drew up a map that they submitted to the municipal government. They also studied the offshore water pollution in the Bohai Gulf, travelled to Hunan Province to learn about dealing with pest control problems, visited Balinyou County, Inner Mongolia, to see the sandification of the area's grassland and trekked through northwestern China to examine the region's biological diversity.
The Oposa Group
In March 1990, Juan Antonio, Anna Rosario and José Alfonso Oposa, represented by their parents and 40 other children from all geographic regions of the Philippines sued the Department of Environment and Natural resources for its ecological neglect on behalf of their generation, and for generations yet unborn. The case was based on the fact that the timber license agreements issued by the Department covered 3.9 million hectares of virgin forest when, according to the records, there were only some 800,000 hectares of virgin forests remaining. In June 1991, the Regional Court dismissed the case without trial on the ground that the children did not have the legal personality to sue. However, the counsel elevated the case to the Supreme Court. In July 1993, the Supreme Court rendered a decision in favour of the children's environmental claim for ecological balance. This case has given birth to the doctrine of "generational genocide" and has set a precedent in environmental law.
Carolina Garcia Travesi
At 15 years of age, Carolina Garcia Travesi of Mexico is an old hand at addressing large groups as she travels around the world exuding energy and hope for the environment. Her interest in the environment began at the age of eight when she attended a class at her school entitled `Ecology and the Consumer'. From then on, she set herself on a path to explore the environmental issues of our time and what she could do to make a difference. In 1991, Carolina founded the Club Ecologista, a group of school children committed to taking action on behalf of the environment. Their efforts focused on educating children and their families about recycling, water conservation, tree planting, among others. Contact with the media and governmental agencies expanded her scope. In 1992, the President of Mexico designated her as a Youth Representative to the Earth Summit in Brazil. In 1993, Carolina attended the Earth Restoration Corps Teen Training in Colorado, and was the main speaker at the Sacred Earth Conference. That same year, she was the recipient of the Windstar Youth Award, and she initiated the creation of another organization - Force to Restore Our Gaia Society (FROGS) - in the hope of expanding the network of youth doing environmental work. She has written articles in numerous publications and has had hundreds written about her.
Health Messengers Association
The Health Messengers Association of Romania, comprising young people between the ages of 8 and 16, deals with health and environmental issues. The projects, which they have undertaken, have had a significant impact. Their Children against Smoking Campaign forced the broadcasting authorities in Romania to stop the publicity of tobacco products and they collected more than 10,000 signatures for an anti-tobacco law. They led a campaign to Save the Trees on Dr. Obedenaru Street, which forced the Government to investigate the matter and to stop the cutting of the trees. Through their Botanical Adoption Programme they found sponsors to rebuild the botanical garden. Their Spaceship No. 2044 project involved putting into the ground, for 50 years, a capsule, which includes a report about the state of the environment in 1994 and promises to improve it. Their Endangered Species Great March was undertaken in the name of plants and animals which they are committed to protecting. The street rally included the Mayor, the Minister of the Environment and many other important dignitaries. Through their Cleaning the Springs project, the children decided to clean 31 mineral water springs. Currently, they are working with the sanitation authorities to transform Sibiu town into a healthy area. They are working on a radio programme to educate patients in hospital about the environment. They are also involved in educational training courses and workshops, and participate in live radio and TV programmes.
Young Leaders, The Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd.
The Young Leaders Programme of The Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago was created in 1991, though its roots date back to 1981. The aim is to help young people develop leadership skills, learn the value of working as a team and develop projects, which benefit the community.
Today, almost every secondary school in the country, as well as youth groups, vocational centres and cadet forces participate in Young Leaders. Students are given six months to complete a project under a theme.
In 1996, Young Leaders chose `The Environment: 21st Century - The Future in Our Hands'. Some of the projects undertaken included paper, glass and plastic recycling schemes, tree planting, cleaning of beaches, rivers and parks, beautifying school compounds, creating jewelry and other utility items from driftwood, paper and other waste materials, and wildlife exhibitions.
The Bank had a difficult task in choosing a winner from the many exemplary projects. The Williamsville students project, however, stood out. Inspired by the drowning of a student and his sister when the garbage-choked Guayacare River overflowed, the school decided to clear the River. The students spoke to villagers, undertook research on water pollution and tested the quality of the water. They wrote newspaper articles and produced TV programmes and posters. Signs were erected and the people signed petitions, which were presented to the Government to prevent further dumping. Systems were put in place ensuring the continuity of the project.
P. B. K. L. Agyirey-Kwakye
In March 1994, Agyirey-Kwakye, a then secondary school student with some experience in tree planting and farming, due to his association with his forester father, moved to Kumikrom in Asamonkese District where the main occupation of the young people was the cutting of wood for fuel. Upon his arrival there in 1994, and knowing that the community did not have any knowledge about tree planting and the need to reforest felled areas, he set up a nursery with various species, but primarily eucalyptus trees. When the seedlings were ready for planting, he set up an agroforestry demonstration farm by planting between the trees plantain, pawpaw and cocoyams. He gave some of the trees to landless farmers for planting. Six months later, when it was time to harvest, the trees had grown significantly. This created the impression in the community that tree planting was possible and that results could be achieved quickly. In 1996, he organized a group of farmers, including 23 women, who were interested in planting nitrogen trees which they could use for firewood and as forage for their livestock. He supplied 14 farmers with 2,000 eucalyptus seedlings, which they planted on their farms. By the end of 1996, 290 farmers had submitted their names to be supplied with seedlings. He is preparing to supply 10,000 seedlings to farmers in 1998. All of these activities have contributed to renewable energy, soil conservation and environmental education.