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

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Celebrating World Water Day

Today, March 22, 2011, is World Water Day (WWD), a day designated to celebrate a resource that everyone needs to survive. Recommended at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 and put into action the following year, World Water Day works to highlight an aspect of fresh water that is particularly important. This year, the theme is Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge.

World Water Day is holding conferences in Cape Town, South Africa, to address the issues of clean water in cities, and to discuss how changes in water recycling, city planning and water conservation can help guarantee clean water for everyone.

Every month, the urban population grows by 5 million residents, mostly in developing nations. The growth in urban areas has far outpaced the growth in the water supply system, and right now over 25% of people in cities don’t have water piped into their homes. This problem is only expected to get worse in the coming years.

Young people around the world are working diligently to help solve water issues. For example, the International Youth Water Movement is working to create new business models that allow for sustainable water use and increased water access. They are doing this by creating “Centers for Youth Enterprise Development”, which would allow young entrepreneurs to advance new ideas and form new networks. Through this movement, young people have reached agreements with local governments to guarantee sanitation and water access in 100,000 homes, influenced water access legislation in Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Nicaragua, and completed a number of other goals.

They can’t do it alone. In the spirit of World Water Day, here are some things you can do to help save and protect the world’s supply of freshwater.

Take part in a World Water Day event! Though WWD is in March, events occur throughout the year. From irrigation testing in India to an event promoting tap water in New York, find an event that appeals to you here.

At home, little changes can add up. Turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth can save up to 8 gallons of water per day, and each minute you shave off your shower can save 2.5 gallons of water. Installing newer, more efficient appliances, such as shower heads, toilets and faucets, can drastically reduce the amount of water used every day.

Locally, you can lobby your city manager or sanitation leader for better water practices. The WWD Advocacy Guide and Action Handbook has great ideas about how to organize a campaign for cleaner water in your community.

Globally, donate to one of many organizations that work to provide people throughout the world with access to clean, safe water.

Clean water is a global issue that everyone needs to consider. What are you doing to celebrate World Water Day? Let us know in the comments.

(Image Courtesy of World Water Day 2011)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Global Youth Service Day is Coming Soon!

Last year, millions of young people participated in nearly 4,000 registered projects as part of Global Youth Service Day (GYSD). This year, GYSD is on April 15-17th, less than a month away! However, there is still plenty of time to get involved.

Began in 1988, Global Youth Service Day “celebrates and mobilizes the millions of children and youth who improve their communities each day of the year through service and service-learning.” Young people around the world work with nonprofits, schools, volunteer and national service programs and other organizations to tackle problems in their communities via GYSD projects.

These projects are registered all over the world, and can be found on this map. Projects span a wide variety of different activities. A few examples of projects are

In Statesville, North Carolina, students are working together to plan a community garden that will serve as a learning lab for afterschool and summer programs, as well as provide fresh produce.

In Egypt, youth have organized a celebration designed to raise awareness of the benefits of donating blood regularly. The event will have stations where people can give blood as well as a number of young people advertising in the streets to encourage blood donation.

In New York, the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island is holding a Teen Art, Music, and Poetry Festival. This festival allows teens to enjoy art, and also serves as a fundraiser for Ethical Friends of Children, which helps families provide for their young children.

Youth in Janakpur, Nepal, are working to make Janakpur a “safe, social city” by holding a variety of events, including marches, street clean-ups, and workshops for activists and lawmakers.

If there is nothing in your area that interests you, don’t worry! It’s not too late to design and register your own project. The Global Youth Service Day website has all the tools you need to plan, register and promote your event.

Are you planning or participating in a Global Youth Service Day event? Tell us about it in the comments!


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