As world leaders met at the United Nations headquarters in New York to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, one of Liberia’s leading nonprofit, passionate and voluntary grassroots youth-led development organizations, Youth Exploring Solutions (YES), celebrated World Earth Day to mark the historic signing ceremony at the Juah Sarwee Memorial Welfare Institute situated in the Trowein, Borough of New Kru Town.
The event which was held under the local theme “Save Planet Earth” brought together over 200 students aged between 5 to 25 years old, alongside Madam Lilieth Whyte, Economic Officer of the U.S. Embassy Monrovia and Mr. Z. Elijah Whapoe, Manager for Planning and Policy of the Environmental Protection Agency, who served as speakers. The program also involved staff members and volunteers of Youth Exploring Solutions alongside three U.S. Department of State Exchange Alumni, Mandela Washington Fellowship and Community Solutions Program participants.
Youth Exploring Solutions’ Earth Day event in Liberia was designed to inform, involve and inspire young people to take practical grassroots actions to safeguard the Earth from the galloping and glaring effects of global warming and climate change. It was also geared towards teaching people to care for the ocean, reduce plastic and nurture Liberia’s emerging environmentalists who would help make our planet greener, our water safer and our air cleaner.
As part of the Earth Day 2016 – Trees for the Earth initiative, Youth Exploring Solutions provided and helped students to plant 100 coconut trees within the Borough of New Kru Town in an endeavor to make available clean air, food, habitat for wildlife as well as absorb excess and harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and prevent heavy storm from taking out the roofs of community residents and somewhat avert sea erosion that is prone to one of the largest slum communities in Liberia.
Madam Lilieth Whyte, who spoke on the topic “Why Earth Day is Important,” stressed the need for government and citizens to form a united front and work together for the common good for protecting the Earth and curbing the effects of climate change in order to guarantee a green and sustainable future for the benefit of the present and unborn generation.
The Economic Officer of the U.S. Embassy Monrovia recounted the enormous contribution from the United States of America in helping to ensure our planet is habitable, our water drinkable, our air breathable, our food consumable, our energy cleanable and our environment livable.
“The United States of America is a true partner in taking the lead to provide the necessary knowledge, skills, techniques, and proven solutions that are needed to combat Climate Change and Global Warning” Madam Whyte pointed out. She disclosed that the U.S. Embassy is recycling, buying local produces, investing in renewable sources of energy and, most importantly, building, connecting and supporting a network of young people in Liberia working on environmental and sustainability issues.
The U.S. diplomat urged Liberians to begin eating their locally produced rice and other consumables as well as purchase as much as possible from the local market in order to minimize carbon emissions accumulated as a result of transporting commodities from long distances. She also participated in the planting of coconut trees and encouraged students to plant.
For his part, Mr. Z. Elijah Whapoe, who propounded on “Taking Practical Grassroots Steps to Combat Climate Change,” indicated that everyone will be affected by the rapid changes of the weather pattern. He stated the rich and powerful nations as well as developing and poorer countries will need to work together to reduce the odors and pollutant gases.
The Manager of Planning and Policy of the Environmental Protection Agency divulged his institution is working alongside all government ministries, agencies and commissions including international and national non-for-profit organizations to regulate environmental issues and minimize the effects of Climate Change through the development of a National Adaptation Plan together with other policies, regulations and legislations including formation of various networks.
Speaking earlier, Stephen B. Lavalah, Founder & Executive Director of YES accentuated that more than ever before in the history of human existence, the ices are melting faster in the Arctic leading to rising sea levels as a result many coastal communities in Liberia, particularly in the Borough of Kru Town that has tasted the bitter swell of constant sea erosion and stormy breezes which destroy roofs and houses of already poverty-stricken people.
One of Monrovia’s historic educational facilities, the D. Twe Memorial High School, is presently under severe threat of sea erosion.
The Founder & Executive Director of YES underscored the need to plant more trees and indicated that YES has planted 2400 trees since 2012 through their sweat, blood and tears, utilizing their own meager resources and voluntary based approaches.
“In an endeavor to truly solve the climate crisis, everyone needs to be engaged, educated and empowered to take practical grassroots actions and raise their voices to hold our leaders accountable to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and save planet Earth for ourselves, our children and grandchildren and generations to come. We deeply believe young people must wake up, shake up and stand up to solve the greatest crisis of human existence and, together we can plant more trees for the Earth and advocate for climate justice,” the young environmental enthusiast said.