Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti is a young environmentalist. PHOTO | PAULINE KAIRU | NATION MEDIA GROUP
UN to recognise two young environment champs from Kenya
Two young Kenyans have the rare opportunity of putting the country in the global conservation arena at the United Nations General Assembly this month.
While Francis Kamau is scheduled to give a talk on climate change at the first ever United Nations Youth Climate Summit, Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti is poised for greatness if she clinches the UN Environment Programme’s 2019 Young Champions of the Earth prize.
Kamau has already secured a green ticket to this year’s 74th Session of the UN General Assembly Week in September in New York, while Wanjiru’s is dependent on whether she is announced winner among the finalists in three weeks’ time.
The two youth events are intended to stir up conservation consciousness in millennials around the planet and bolster action on climate change.
The UN, in its call to the youth, describes the initiatives as ones that will recognise “problem solvers with big bold conservational ideas, for the environment for humanity, for a greener future.”
Kamau is a 29-year-old social entrepreneur and agribusiness consultant at Agrieal Africa.
He will address leaders from the United Nations and member states, young leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, and change-makers on September 21 — ahead of the Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit on September 23.
The man from Matunda in Gatanga constituency, Murang’a County, was selected from a pool of more than 7,000 applicants from across the world for incorporating environmental mindedness in his business.
The UN said, in a letter sent to him, that he had been identified as one of the youth that had demonstrated leadership and commitment to climate action at the pace and scale needed to meet the climate change crisis.“My business is in the area of agroforestry, but I’ve for the last two years promoted the planting of high-value trees not just in wood lots but also belts in homesteads in a bid to reach Kenya’s target of 10 per cent forest cover,” explained the agriculture graduate from Egerton University.
He has previously received awards for his work from the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the Digital Opportunity Trust-Kenya.
For her part, Wanjiru could be headed to the General Assembly, where she hopes to be crowned queen of the environment. The 24-year-old from Kiandu village in Tetu, Nyeri County, is one of five African qualifiers and 35 global finalists aged between 18 and 30 contending for the 2019 Young Champions of the Earth prize, with an award ceremony to be held on September 26.
Although the two events are happening concurrently, Unep’s Young Champions of the Earth award is different from the Youth Climate Summit.
Wanjiru has been championing environmental awareness among children around the country by encouraging them to plant and adopt thousands of trees under her Green Generation Initiative since 2016.