Youths on the forefront of Environment conservation

Judy Ndunge Kenya June 5, 2024

By Elizabeth Wathuti ,Green Generation Initiative ……

As we celebrate World Environment Day under the slogan; Our Land, Our Future, “We are #GenerationRestoration,” It’s important for us as Kenyans to reflect on whether we are nurturing a generation that cares about and understands the need to conserve our environment. This responsibility extends to our homes, schools, workplaces, rivers, and every other place. On World Environment Day, the Green Generation Initiative, in collaboration with other stakeholders, is growing over 2,000 fruit trees, bamboo, and indigenous trees at Njiru Secondary School in Njiru Sub-County. This effort is not just to mark the occasion and plant trees, but to foster a mindset of environmental conservation among our students and youth.

Our motivation stems from a profound understanding of the importance of green spaces, particularly in educational institutions. Witnessing how most of our schools have limited green areas is disheartening, as these spaces are vital for fostering physical health and mental well-being among learners. Research unequivocally demonstrates the positive impact of green environments on cognitive function and academic performance. Moreover, exposure to nature instills in our youth a sense of stewardship, nurturing a generation that inherently values environmental conservation.

Consequently, our approach extends beyond tree planting; it encompasses the holistic development of eco-conscious citizens. We are sowing the seeds of sustainability in young minds through our initiatives when we  create green spaces and parks within schools, planting fruit trees to enhance food security and fruit nutrition among school children, and providing environmental education. By empowering them with knowledge and practical skills, we are nurturing a generation equipped to address the pressing environmental and climate challenges of our time.

However, it is important to note that our efforts are back tracked by a culture in this county that has normalized  environmental degradation. Encroachment into riparian zones and rampant deforestation have been normalized in Kenya, leading to devastating consequences such as flooding and loss of biodiversity impacts of which are felt by even those who are the least contributors to the degradation. We cannot afford to overlook the interconnectedness of our actions with the health of our planet and natural disasters that come with destruction. Simple acts like indiscriminate littering contribute to clogged drainages and urban flooding, underscoring the urgent need for a paradigm shift in our collective mindset on how we view and value environmental conservation.

Moreover, the engagement of youth is pivotal in effecting meaningful change. By harnessing the potential of youth movements, we can also create opportunities through  environmental entrepreneurship. Initiatives such as Kenya’s 15 Billion National Tree Growing Initiative offer a platform to empower young people with green jobs, ensuring that they are not just beneficiaries but active participants in environmental conservation.

Furthermore, with over 70% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population below the age of 30, young people are not just the future but the driving force that could lead the green transformative change that we need to achieve sustainability. 

In essence, our vision extends beyond planting trees; it’s about cultivating a #GenerationRestoration that embodies the ethos of environmental stewardship. Together, let us inspire and empower the youth to become catalysts for positive change, for they hold the key to unlocking a greener, more sustainable Kenya and world. I often say, “If we don’t do it, who will?” and as we mark World Environment Day, we need to all join in  restoration efforts with unwavering determination and collective action, for the sake of our planet and future generations. For us at GGI we are all about Mayut Na Mazingira.

*The Writer is a Young Environmentalist, a Global Climate Champion and Founder of the Green Generation Initiative .

 

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