Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Young Environmentalists Take the Lead

From 8:30-9:30pm on March 26, individuals, businesses and cities around the globe turned off the lights to celebrate Earth Hour, a day designed to raise awareness of climate change and global environmental issues. This year, the theme was “60+: Go Beyond The Hour”, which encouraged participants to make small pledges to help the environment year-round, such as bringing reusable bags to the grocery store or riding their bikes to work.

Thousands of people made pledges, and small changes certainly add up. However, many young environmentalists are going above and beyond, working tirelessly to help preserve the world around them.

Clean-up crew

Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (Young Volunteers for the Environment) is a youth-led nonprofit that works to involve other young people in sustainable development. Headquartered in Togo, JVE has more than 30 branches throughout the nation and 17 international representations in a diverse group of countries ranging from Kenya to Switzerland.

JVE has implemented a number of projects, including increased environmental education in schools, weekly radio and TV programs on sustainable development, and organizing the first youth forum on social justice, which featured the Bhopal tragedy. They have also participated in conferences around the globe, and worked in tandem with other ecological networks such as the Earth Day Network, African Biodiversity Network and the Global Youth Action Network.

In another example, in Maine, 18-year-old Chloe Maxim founded the Climate Action Club at her high school. This club managed to establish a “no idling” policy on campus, purchased solar panels for the school and helped to launch a reusable bag campaign, even convincing the state’s largest supermarket to participate. This was impressive enough, but Chloe also began and maintained an online network of young environmentalists called First Here, Then Everywhere. Consisting of a website and a community space, First Here, Then Everywhere allows young people around the globe to share ideas and projects, learn from each other and find like-minded friends.

The Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) is a non-profit focused on empowering young people and their communities to develop programs and actions to address socio-economic and environmental issues. CYEN is comprised of individuals and youth groups who want to work together to address environmental issues. They work throughout the Caribbean on a variety of projects, including cleaning up marine debris and litter and encouraging sustainable land management.

It’s Getting Hot in Here is an online global community originally created to allow youth to report from the International Climate Negotiations in Montreal in 2005. Since then, it has expanded into a forum where over 300 young writers express their ideas and share information to stop global warming.

These groups, and many others, are working hard to protect our natural resources. To find a youth environmental organization near you, check out ICP’s Green Youth Resource Center, which lists a large number of youth environmental organizations, as well as relevant legislation and news articles. Would you like your organization added to the resource center? Email us at info@icicp.org or let us know in the comments!

Picture courtesy of newwavegurly

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