The African Regional Children's Conference took place from 7 to 10 August 2009 in Durban, South Africa. UNEP, SPAR, Eskom, Nestlé (South Africa), Shell (South Africa), Hewlett Packard (South Africa), the British Council, SAASTA, Sustainability United (An Environmental Network for Children, Women and NGOs), Regency Foundation Networx and other educational role-players in KwaZulu-Natal coordinated the conference.
The Goals of the conference were:
* Giving African children (10 - 14 year olds) the knowledge and ability to respond and take action to the challenges presented by climate change;
* Developing a national network of children focused on environmental and climate change issues;
* Promoting UNEP's work with children, and fulfilling the mandate of the Africa UNEP Junior Board member, Francesco Govender;
* Developing a climate change lesson plan that can be used by all primary schools in SA ;
* Promoting long-term cultural relations, educational and leadership benefits.
DAY I: ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
The 2nd Regional Children’s conference kicked off in Durban, SA with over 100 delegates taking part. Francesco Govender, Tunza Junior Board member, opened the proceedings with a few inspirational words for his fellow environmentalists.
Schools then presented their projects that showcased the kind of activities they are involved in towards environmental conservation. This further emphasized the importance of the next generation taking charge of their future as one of the posters at the conference said – ‘Make a better tomorrow, start today’.
With the opening session over, kids then proceeded to the UNEP SEAL THE DEAL stand where they did just that, SEALED THE DEAL. Children from Burundi to Egypt, Algeria to Namibia, South Africa to Nigeria, Kenya to Cameroon, played their part in sending a message to governments to get to a decision at the Climate Change meeting in Copenhagen later this year.
A side event on GREEN I.T was facilitated by Hewlett Packard, HP on how IT can be part of the fight against climate change through smart technology.
Later, the children together with their chaperones went on field trips to one of the stadiums that will host football matches in the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup, the Moses Mabhida Stadium. They then went on to the IMAX Experience and later the uShaka Marine World.
DAY 2: BIODIVERSITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE; WASTE AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Day two began with the main focus being biodiversity and waste management with a presentation titled Indigenous Tree from Ferdinand Brecher Primary School (northern cape) and Stream Clean-upby Meduwaneng Primary School ( Free State).
The delegates and chaperones later left on field trips to the Umgeni Bird park, where they learnt about different bird species from around the world and the threat their existence face due to environmental degradation. They also visited the Natal Sharks board, Umhalanga and went on the Harbour Cruise.
After a fun-filled educational trip, the children were then hosted to a closing ceremony cocktail which was hosted by Kwa Zulu Natal Department of Agriculture, Environmental and Rural Development.
The Swedish Ambassador to South Africa, Peter Taylor, stressed on the importance of knowledge sharing amongst developing and developed nations and technology transfer from developed nations to help advance green development in developing countries.
DAY 3: DELEGATES FEEDBACK SESSION
Last day had arrived. Goodbyes as usual are never easy. The child delegates bid each other farewell but not before they rallied each other to keep on the fight for the environment. “ I hope that we young people, shall keep on with the fight to conserve our environment as our future depends on it”, said 12 year old Trevor Gitonga from Nairobi Kenya.