Two young environmental leaders from Nairobi and Mombasa have been unveiled as the 2012 Young Environmental Envoys for Kenya, as part of an initiative organized by Bayer and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The two environmentalists were cheered on by classmates, teachers and friends at a ceremony at UNEP headquarters in Gigiri today.
Mwanyuma Hope Mugambi (23), a student at Kenyatta University Mombasa campus and Beverly Kendi Nkonge (16) from Riara School, Nairobi, and will travel to Germany next month to take part in an environmental field trip. They will be joined by fellow young environmental envoys from around 18 countries in Africa, Asia, and South America.
The competition is open to young people from across Kenya who are involved in environmental projects.
Mwanyuma Hope Mugambi, a 3rd year student in Environmental Studies and Community Development, runs a recycling initiative that turns waste plastic bags into tablemats, laptop cases and other products. She has trained members of a local women’s group to manufacture the recycled goods, which they sell to fund school fees, and the purchase of sanitary products.
“The aim of the project is to reduce levels of litter in the neighbourhood, and also to prevent the release of harmful fumes caused by burning plastic,” said Hope.
“I have always supported a clean environment and hope that I can dedicate my career to achieving this”, she added.
Together with a group of classmates, Beverly Kendi Nkonge founded a company producing “fireballs”, or fuel briquettes, made from sawdust and organic waste as part of an entrepreneurship challenge for young people. Their company, named Providentia, sold the environmentally-friendly briquettes to teachers and classmates. The fuel was also used in the school kitchen. Money raised from the sale of the fireballs was used to pay school fees for children living in a slum in Nairobi.
“Hope and Kendi are leading the way in raising awareness of key environmental issues in their communities, and are worthy recipients of the Young Environmental Envoy title,” said Theodore Oben, Head of UNEP’s Outreach Unit.
“We congratulate them on their excellent achievements and hope that their field trip to Germany will provide them with fresh inspiration, knowledge and motivation to continue their environmental work,” he added.
The envoys’ visit to Bayer headquarters and other sites in Germany in November will have a strong focus on environment and industry. Through a series of interactive workshops, talks and site visits, the young people will experience at first-hand how the latest technology can be applied to environmental protection.
”Bayer understands that engaging youths in environmental conservation ensures continuity, consequently making conservation efforts more sustainable. This motivates us to keep supporting this program,” said Frans Labuschagne, Managing Director, Bayer East Africa.
Launched in 1998, the UNEP-Bayer Young Environment Envoy Programme aims to improve knowledge of environmental issues among young people and support them in developing and implementing projects on sustainable development, conservation and other aspects of the environment in their own communities.
Originally conceived as a local project in Thailand, the programme has since grown to cover 17 other countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Venezuela and Vietnam.
After completing their year as Young Environmental Envoys, the students then become members of an alumni network that brings together past envoys from all participating countries. The network acts as a support group for envoys implementing their own environmental projects and as a forum where young people can share experiences on environmental issues.
For more information on the Young Environmental Envoy Programme, visit: www.unep.bayer.com