Let’s green together

Nesmahar Sayed , Tuesday 27 Sep 2022

Nesmahar Sayed attended a child-centred festival on climate

Let s green together
Let s green together


Refuse. Reduce. Repurpose. Reuse. Recycle. These were some of the concepts that were made familiar to children aged 10 to 15 to protect the environment.

The activity was part of the Let’s Green Together festival organised at Institut français d’Égypte by the French and German embassies to promote good practices towards the environment, Adrien Cluzet, the event’s organising officer at the French institute, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

“The world is suffering now from common issues like global warming, air pollution, plastic pollution, and threats towards biodiversity. We should have a common response and common language to address these issues,” Cluzet said, adding he hopes the 2022 United Nations Climate Change COP27 will be an opportunity to deal with these issues. Egypt is hosting COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh from 7-18 November.

The festival brought together children with various stakeholders providing environment-related activities.

“Environmental learning for all ages helps them invent and create eco-friendly materials and products,” said Farah Kamel, managing partner of Dayma, an eco-education company that provides alternative educational programmes and experiences to learners of all ages with the objective of reconnecting with self, nature, and community. “The programmes are built to connect people to their surroundings, help them understand environmental challenges and find opportunities for learning, adaptation, and meaningful intervention,” Kamel said.

Let’s Green Together was put together in the framework of the Cairo Climate Talks. Over 120 children aged 10 to 15 attended the event in the French Institute and participated in its various activities presented by Egyptian partner organisations. At 10 booths and workshops the children had the opportunity to gain knowledge and learn through play, craft, experiment and discussion, new skills related to sustainable living and the protection of the environment.

While Dayma explained to the children how they can learn from nature to save the planet, Banlastic Egypt, a social enterprise that aims to ban single-use plastic in Egypt, gave them something to think about with videos and photos of how single-use plastics are harming creatures and nature.

“By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea,” one banner at the workshop read. “We offer alternative green products and connect with policymakers to strengthen what we do by environmental policies,” Mai Mustafa told the Weekly.

Manar Ramadan from Banlastic discussed the dangers of some materials that are added to plastic that affect health, especially hot substances. “You should take into consideration that even paper cups are padded with micro plastic,” added Mustafa who introduced the children to the workshop’s major themes.

One child suggested that when a water plastic bottle is empty, it can be used to water plants, or cut it in half and use it to provide food and water to stray cats and dogs.

Eman Emad, project manager at Greenish, an Egyptian foundation that aims to achieve sustainable development through interactive, environmental assessment services, explained how wild fires start and how they affect global warming and the planet.

Student activities in universities in governorates helped integrate environmental issues like biodiversity, waste management and health with community issues, explained Emad, adding that students created project ideas to solve problems in their community. The projects are presented to a jury and the winners are funded by Greenish, which also provides monitoring sessions to help children improve and implement their projects to produce a service or product, Emad told the Weekly.

In the festival was Athar Lina (The Monument is Ours) which teaches heritage to kids, turning it into a resource that benefits the community and the people in that community, said Hadeer Dahab, architecture and activities coordinator of the initiative.

Athar Lina coordinators concentrated on teaching children traditions and customs to highlight the relationship between the children and national and international heritage. “We teach the idea of carbon print and impended carbon. It is the carbon dioxide consumed to build a building and the carbon print is the carbon dioxide consumed to operate the building. We show the kids that restoring old buildings and prequalifying them using eco-friendly substances is a key element in saving the environment,” Dahab told the Weekly.

Children also got to learn about planting trees from Osama Al-Masri, a founder of Shagarha (Plant Trees), a 2016 initiative to spread the culture of planting fruit trees in streets, schools and public places. The plan also includes rooftop and balcony gardening and sustainability and fighting climate change.

According to Al-Masri, Shagarha has 13 high-ranking members and 300 volunteers who planted 100,000 trees in 18 governorates bearing oranges, berries, lemons and olives. Trees are planted in public spaces, clean water is used for irrigation and someone is entrusted with the operation, Al-Masri explained. “Last month we started a campaign to plant 27,000 trees up until the beginning of COP27.

“The importance of this event is that it is dedicated to children and adults to see how we act towards climate change, not just talk about it. Raising awareness through activities and workshops is part of informal education to teach kids to find solutions to climate change,” David Réginer, cultural attaché at the French Embassy, told the Weekly.

“By providing these activities at the festival, it was our aim to contribute, together with our partners, to raising awareness already at a young age for one of the most pressing issues of our time: sustainable living and protecting the environment in view of climate change,” Lorena Mohr, head of the Science Department and head of protocol at the German Embassy, told the Weekly.

Mohr said she believed that COP27 is a “crucial moment in history. We all have to double down on our efforts and commitment to achieve the goal of keeping global warming within the 1.5 degree Celsius range and to reduce the impact and damage of climate change… fighting climate change is not only a task of international politics, of development and economic cooperation, but also a social and educational challenge.”

Mohr said everyone can make a difference. Raising awareness at an early age and teaching individual responsibility for environmental protection is hence key to societal efforts around the globe in successfully mitigating the effects of climate change.

She added this was why CCT Junior was set up, as it aims to educate children and teenagers about climate change and climate protection. The French Embassy will also hold a COP27 simulation for school students in Egypt this November for which the details are yet to be announced, said Régnier.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 29 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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