Thursday, June 2, 2011
YOUNG ENVIRONMENTALIST TRAINEES (YET’s) AS CHANGE AGENTS IN IYF 2011
2011 is the International Year of Forests (IYF) and celebrations were officially launched on 2nd February, 2011 during the 9th Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests in New York. Forests issues are essential links to livelihoods, addressing climate change and other environmental challenges. But they are also cornerstones of our economies, whose real value has all too often been invisible in national accounts of profit and loss (UNEP 2011).
In 2004 trade in forest products was estimated at $327 billion. Continued and uncontrolled deforestation therefore not only has it devastating consequences for the environment, the wildlife and communities but also economies around the world. Rather shockingly, 36 million acres of natural forest are lost each year. Thus World Environment Day (WED) chose a theme for this year to be, ‘Forests: Nature at Your Service’, to encourage forest conservation and sustainable consumption for green growth, and in support of the UN International Year of Forests initiative. Conserving forests throughout the world has to be in our collective consciousness so as to change our lifestyles (UNEP, 2011).
The statement given by his Excellency UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that “Although individual decisions may seem small in the face of global threats and trends, when billions of people join forces in common purpose, we can make a tremendous difference”, encourages billions of individual people to join hands for the purpose of conserving and increasing forests cover (UNEP, 2011).
Therefore YET’s as change agents, may get involved by making others aware of the forests issues by sharing our knowledge and skills, organizing an event, or participating in this year’s WED celebrations by doing what is possibly for the biggest WED celebration in history. As an individual or a team, YET’s can adopt targets for environmental improvements in our companies/NGOs; use cloth bags, motivate our school mates, our teachers, fellow Tanzanians and work mates to do the same, can plan an activity, organize events or conservational activities that lead in greening the environment or increasing Forest cover through tree planting . . . the possibilities are endless.
YET’s should also advocate the government to develop and implement policies that encourage sustainable use of forests by protecting the areas inhabited by endangered species and promote forest restoration where they have been depleted, be the first in our organizations to shift our NGO/company policies towards green growth as Private companies have an opportunity to invest wisely into the new Green Economy by developing procurement processes that buy only into sustainably managed forests, such as products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). They should as well play their role in promoting effective local community participation for sustainable Natural Resource Conservation through training and mobilize the local communities.
On the other hand, Civil Society Organizations can play a significant role through advocacy and lobbying, raising awareness on sustainable forest management and supporting economic livelihood options.
Like private companies, YET’s have a choice to make wise premeditated choices over what products they should buy and which they shouldn’t meaning supporting sustainable forest utilization. This means checking that furniture, wood, paper and other forest products we buy are verified as coming from legal sources. A quick and easy way to do this is checking for a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification logo.
Most importantly, taking action on forests requires an ongoing commitment to changing lifestyle and therefore is not a one-off action. Our new lifestyle demands should be environmental-conscious in all our choices, consumption and actions. Therefore, as change agents Young Environmentalist Trainees let us all join World Environmental Day celebrations! Every year, everywhere in our doings and influence others.
Written by; Deodatus Kiriba-YET 2011
Reviewed by; Victoria Maeda, ASSISTANT TRAINING OFFICER FOR CSOS PROGRAMME, WWF-TCO