Yokkaichi City and Mayor Kanshi Kato
Yokkaichi in Mie Prefecture was once notorious for its smog. Throughout the 1960s and the early 1970s, the City was badly polluted by sulfur dioxide from its huge oil and petrochemical manufacturing complex.
In 1976, the City achieved the clean-air requirements on sulfur dioxide and by 1987, it was clean enough to be designated by the Environment Agency as a City where "the starry heavens could be seen". After arduous technological and administrative battles, the Yokkaichi Pollution Control Board was able to implement a successful pollution control project integrating environment and development.
Yokkaichi transferred its know-how to other cities with similar needs. In 1990, it became the host of the International Centre for Environmental Technology Transfer - which reaches out to developing nations and trained 345 overseas experts from 26 countries.
Yokkaichi City pioneered public medical care programmes to assist patients with pollution-related respiratory diseases, an initiative which led to the enactment of the 1973 Pollution Related Compensation Law. Two green buffer zones have been developed and 340 billion Yen have been spent on environmentally sound measures.
Yokkaichi City and Mayor Kanshi Kato
Alwan-Al-Teif, a children's music and drama troupe in Sudan, proves that no one is too young to help raise public awareness about environmental issues and have an impact.
Through the troupe's performances at children's festivals, schools, universities, ministries and other institutions, the young members are directly involved in environmental conservation - changing people's values today to help assure they have a home free from pollution and mass degradation tomorrow. Their work has inspired other youth groups to emulate Alwan-Al-Teif and their music is often broadcast on radio and television. The troupe has also produced an audio-video cassette with 16 songs and plays.
Off-stage, Alwan-Al-Teif has established a tree nursery and distributed many of the plants to people throughout the local community.
Association for the Protection of the Environment
The Association for the Protection of the Environment (APE) is a non-profit organization which emphasizes conservation through recycling and believes in providing the poor (especially vulnerable women's groups) with opportunities for self-advancement.
The main activity of the APE is a compost plant which collects animal manure and organic material from garbage dumps and turns it into commercially viable fertilizers, some of which is used in reclaiming Eygpt's desert land. The secondary, but rapidly expanding activity is the making of handicrafts such as rugs, bags and pillows from recycled rags.
The workers come from Mokattam Village and are young girls and women who collect garbage for a living. Due to training in the use of hand looms they are able to earn their livelihood with dignity and pride. Literacy is encouraged and cost-free classes are available on the Association's premises.
Both projects are income-generating and due to the supportive framework of the APE, the Mokattam Village women have learned to find joy and laughter within the existing context of their lives as garbage collectors.
Robert D. Dyer
Robert Darren Dyer is a member of the South African Wildlife Society and of his school's conservation club project "Catchment Conservation in the Umhlatuzana Basin".
He has received the following awards: Conservationist of the Year Award (Wildlife Society); National Audi Innovators for the Environment Award; M-Net Green Trust Award; Winner of Natal Bisonbord Environmental Symposium; Winner of National Enviro OK Youth Symposium.
His project's aim is to: plant vegetation on the banks of all the Umhlatuzana catchment rivers; remove alien invader plants and replace them with indigenous species; educate user groups to conserve top soil; establish Umhlatuzana catchment conservancies; uplift the using standards of less fortunate communities.
He is involved in awareness campaigns via lectures, exhibitions, posters, public addresses, publications, radio and TV programmes, brochures and competitions and in 1993 he established a youth club, involving more than 100 pupils from at least 12 schools. He holds bi-monthly "river days" and attends awareness weekends at selected nature reserves.
He established a nursery on school grounds; repaired degraded river banks along an 87 km stretch of the Umhlatuzana river and its tributaries. He holds monthly meetings to identify problems and works on joint solutions so that communities become empowered by their own achievements.
Green Machine Nature Conservation Club
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.