Pakistan’s younger generation, excited about protecting nature, might hold the key to arresting the country’s environmental crises.
On Wednesday, children from across the country reiterated lessons about environment conservation and protection which they learned during a 10-day trip to the wilderness. The 128 young delegates, aged 11-14, who participated in the 12th National Children’s Mountain Conservation Meet 2013, were gathered at the closing ceremony in Islamabad.
The nature conservation meet was organised by the Adventure Foundation of Pakistan (AFP), which has been holding the annual event since 2002.
As part of the 10-day activity, children visited different areas inside the Ayubia National Park and participated in tasks such as tree plantations, study of flora and fauna and mountain clean-up under the supervision of environmentalists and conservationists.
During the meet, students also divided into four groups to focus on forests, water conservation, waste management and energy conservation.
Nawaz Riaz, 14, was a member of the green group which focused on waste disposal and recycling. Riaz said reusing materials could not only improve hygiene in the cities, the discarded trash could also be used for energy production.
“We should start the cleanliness drives from our homes,” he said. “There should be laws against littering and strict fines should be imposed on violators.”
Khadija Qureshi, another participant, said energy conservation is a must for our future survival and it might provide a way for alleviating the country’s power crisis.
Children who participated in the meet were given the title of “eco-guards” so they can act on the lessons learnt from the meet and protect the environment in their immediate surroundings, Muhammad Ikram, the coordinator of the conservation meet, said.
Since 2002, the AFP has recruited over 1,400 eco-guards in the country, some of whom have returned to the annual meet to lead new participants in outdoor activities, he said.
This year, five children from Nepal also participated in the activities. Renjin Dorje Hydmo, a student of class eight from Nepal, said he enjoyed the trip and learnt to appreciate and preserve mountain ecosystems.
Chief Guest Regula Bubb, wife of the Swiss Ambassador to Pakistan, said she was impressed by the capability of the participants but also by the knowledge they seem to have acquired from their trip. Bubb said the children must now also convince their friends and families to adopt an attitude of environment conservation.
Brigadier (Retired) Jan Nadir Khan, director general of the AFP, said the foundation’s mission is to introduce the children of Pakistan to outdoor activities. Khan said the organisation tries to promote eco-literacy by providing hands-on training opportunities to kids about natural resources conservation.
He urged children to plant a tree on their birthdays, discard plastic bags with care and realise that the planet’s needs are their own needs.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2013.