What Can Kids Do?

Youth Summit for the Environment

The Youth Summit for the Environment was held in the city of Kobe from May 21 to 24, 2008, and 115 children from 21 countries and regions gathered. The event took place in advance of the G8 Environment Ministers' Meeting, which was also held in the city. The children reported on environmental problems in their countries and exchanged ideas on ways to protect the global environment.


The main program, which got underway at the Art Center of Kobe on May 22, opened with a presentation on Tuvalu, a Polynesian island nation that is at risk of disappearing into the ocean as a result of the rising sea level caused by global warming.

In the afternoon, the children were divided into four groups to begin their discussions on the global environment. A large number of posters created by children from around the world were also on display at the Art Center, enabling participants to learn more about the situation in other countries and providing new perspectives on various problems.

An Impassioned Plea
On May 23 young "climate champions" from 13 countries, so called because of their work in the community to get people thinking about climate change and act in environmentally friendly ways, took the stage. The children in the Japanese group talked about how they have stopped using plastic bags from convenience stores and use furoshiki (traditional wrapping cloths) instead. The German group gave a presentation on solar energy.


At the closing ceremony on May 24, the children released a message for the G8 environment ministers. In the message they said that environmental destruction is mainly the result of human activities and stressed that a failure to take action would trigger wars, famine, and natural disasters. They made an urgent appeal for the production of eco-friendly goods and for applying an international law that requires schools to offer programs that raise awareness about environmental issues.

One of the participants, a third-year middle school student from Kobe, spoke in earnest about his reasons for attending: "I really wanted to do something to protect the earth and save the ecosystem of animals, and I thought I could discuss these things and find solutions at the summit."