In order to celebrate World Environment Day 2012, UNICEF and the Libyan Ministry of Education came together with children at the Tripoli elementary school of Shohada al-Khalej to mark the occasion by planting trees in the school in Gargaresh. The occasion is to be held Wednesday at 10.00 a.m.
UNICEF recognises that Investing in children’s increased awareness of environmental issues and sustainable development is an investment in the future of Libya, and schools are the most relevant space to promote these important issues in a country facing desertification, decreasing water reserves, extensive waste dumping, and the use of mainly non-renewable energy sources.
“Children, if educated and made aware of the importance of protecting their environment, can be empowered to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development for the future of Libya,” Carel de Rooy, UNICEF representative in Libya said.
Although environmental protection and sustainable development may not have been given sufficient attention in the past, now is the opportunity to address these issues. The new Libyan authorities are already showing commitment to change.
In October 2011 an international Forum for Libyan Experts was convened in the eastern city of Darna, drawing attention to the many challenges Libya is facing.
UNICEF says it welcomes the commitment of the Ministry of Education to mark World Environment Day by increasing children’s active participation on environmental issues through this symbolic but important tree-planting activity.
“There is a strong link between children’s rights, increased risks for disasters and natural hazards as a result of environmental degradation” said de Rooy. “It is a positive sign that the transitional authorities are already taking this seriously, and I would like to congratulate the Ministry of Education for taking the initiative to organize this symbolic event today.”
In May 2011 UNICEF and partners launched the Children’s Charter for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) as a result of consultations with more than 600 children in 21 countries.
In the Charter, which is a response to climate change, children pledge their governments to prioritize the rights of children during and after natural disasters, to ensure that children continue to have access to education; that child protection remains a priority; that community infrastructure must be safe, and; that disaster risk reduction must also reach the most vulnerable.
UNICEF, with assistance from the EU, the Australian, Polish, Russian, and Swedish Governments, as well as other donors, is to continue to support the Ministry of Education in its efforts to build an inclusive, child friendly, equitable, as well as eco-friendly education system in Libya, and increased awareness around environmental issues will be one important component.
“In Libya, every day should be environment day. We will explore with the Ministry of Education the possibility of replicating such events throughout schools in Libya on a regular basis. Only then can children’s awareness be sustainably increased and an environmentally sustainable society be built for the future,” said de Rooy.