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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 February 2005, 18:45 GMT
"How I'd change the world..."
The future generation has an unenviable task: tomorrow they must tackle the environmental problems we are creating today. Ahead of the Kyoto treaty coming into force, we asked eight young people from around the world how they would do things differently.

Alex Lin
Alex Lin
11, USA

Aparna Bhasin
Aparna Bhasin
17, India

William Roper
William Roper
17, UK

Jean-Christophe Martel
JC Martel
17, Canada

Analiz Vergara
Analiz Vergara
16, Ecuador

Shoko Takahashi
Shoko Takahashi
14, Japan

Yvonne Maingey
Yvonne Maingey
17, Kenya

Georgina Viveash
15, UK

Yvonne Maingey

Yvonne Maingey
The very water that people drink is part of the environment
A very big problem in Kenya right now is corruption.

Thousands and thousands of hectares of our land is being given to government officials illegally. They cut down the trees and sell the land - we call it land grabbing.

I got interested in the environment when I was 11 years old. There was a big land grab, and lots of trees were pulled up.

I went home and talked to my mum about what I could do about it and I decided to start an environment club at my school. We cleaned up a river that runs through our school and we put posters up encouraging people to take care of the environment.

I enjoy doing this and I'm really passionate about it. Where I come from, in Kenya, the environment is not a big issue. We are a developing country and poverty is such a big problem.

But Kenya has one of the most beautiful environments in world; untouched beaches, beautiful forests, loads of wildlife.

But because of Kenya's other problems people think "this is not something we need to worry about now" - they think they need to deal with poverty first. But people don't realise that poverty and the environment - they are part of the same thing.

The very water that people drink is part of the environment. And people need to understand that if they don't take care of that environment today then they won't have water tomorrow. Africans just aren't making that connection right now.

We need to set an example. We need to start taking our environment seriously and putting together simple projects so that our children and our children's children can still enjoy all this.

Kenya is a very big tourist country and the environment attracts many tourists every year. But if you don't protect the environment then it won't be beautiful and then the tourists won't come to Kenya. And that would mean losing one of our country's highest earners.

So the government needs to start taking these things into consideration. It should not allow people to grab land and cut down trees without any good reason.

Aids is a very big problem in Africa right now and they have introduced Aids education in school. And I think that is great - kids should be told from a young age.

Kids should also be taught about the environment from a young age. But it's not just the kids - the people of Kenya should be educated as well.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

We should really concentrate on our environment since it is our livelihood
Paul Mwirigi, Nairobi, Kenya
Coming from the same country as Yvonne, I truly agree with her. We should really concentrate on our environment since it is our livelihood. Everything revolves around the environment and hence we should do everything possible to take care of it and protect it.
Paul Mwirigi, Nairobi, Kenya

Yvonne has all of the right ideas for acting and healing our land, ourselves and each other. Thank you, Yvonne. May we all listen and act as courageously, speak as boldly and clearly as you.
The Reverend James C. Lovette-Black, San Francisco, USA

Right on.. amazing insight. I wish more "grown up" professionals understood this. Most governments consider cleaning up the environment secondary to development. Access to clean water is development.
Chaminda, Botswana

I agree with Yvonne Maingey's views. As a Kenyan, we should be more serious on environmental issues and avoid unnecessary tree cutting. Thank you for the good work.
Joyce Wanyoike, Kikuyu, Kenya

I am a Kenyan-Canadian and have experienced first-hand what Yvonne is talking about. Just like the efforts in the fight against Aids and poverty, so urgent measures must be put in place by Kenyan and other African governments to protect the integrity of our environment. These measures could be achieved through public education, legislative and policy initiatives aimed at curbing environmental degradation.
Julius Omware, Toronto, Canada


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