Green Hope UAE - Empowering Future Generations
15 year old Kehkashan Basu founded youth organization GREEN HOPE UAE in 2012, after attending the Earth Summit in Brazil, to provide a networking platform to children and youth in the region to carry forward the Rio legacy through ground level community projects on climate justice, sustainable consumption, gender equality, renewable energy adoption and reversing land degradation. She educates, engages and empowers future generations through workshops called Environment Academies to spread awareness about the environment and sustainability. She trains members to make presentations at these academies. This is a unique initiative as it's run entirely “By youth, For youth”. With over 1000 members from several countries it has empowered thousands of young people from over 100 institutions to work on sustainable development. On 29 July 2015 Green Hope’s message was heard at the United Nations, New York when it partnered to conducted a side event - "Renewable Energy for Future Generations".
Spreading the message of peace and sustainability has been Kehkashan’s passion since she was only 8 years old. She believes that future generations need to be empowered in order to be able to shape their destiny and achieve a sustainable world. She founded Green Hope UAE with this objective of youth empowerment. She spends a lot of time personally training and guiding young people to conduct "on the ground" campaigns on various sustainability issues. Its objective is to give a voice to future generations and focusses especially on educating and empowering girls, opposing gender violence, bullying and works to reduce the global carbon footprint through its tree planting campaigns, having planted thousands of trees in several countries.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
Green Hope reaches out to young people and civil society through its Environment Academies. These are day long advocacy workshops, attended by hundreds of young people & corporates, educating them on various aspects of sustainability. It has been accorded partner status by Knowledge and Human Development Authority, which is governing education body of Dubai. Through this partnership, she regularly conducts awareness sessions for schools across the country, reaching out to thousands of students. It works all year round on charitable & relief efforts for natural disasters like Nepal earthquake & Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines. It organises charity packs for labourers to bring joy into their lives. It organises beach cleanups, recycling campaigns, tree planting campaigns & school awareness programs on renewable energy. It has organised several “EcoConferences” where eminent international experts have shared their knowledge with young people on sustainability. http://www.dubaiprnetwork.com/
Green Hope is a unique initiative as it facilitates young people to empower other youth. This peer-to-peer engagement is seamless & brings unity in diversity. The Green Hope initiative is supported by Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement. It partners with Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots programme. Connect4Climate of the World Bank Group has chosen it as a partner enabling youth empowerment through its Environment Academies. To encourage young people to combat global warming, it partners with the regional Clean Energy Business Council & reaches out to schools, urging young people to shift to renewable energy. It uses social media to increase outreach & has created several awareness videos on gender equality, peace & stopping land degradation
Carrying the message of youth empowerment through Green Hope, Kehkashan has been invited to speak at over 50 UN / international summits. The UK Youth Climate Coalition chose her a Climate Heroine for 2014 for her work. The World Bank invited Kehkashan to speak about the Green Hope initiative at its 2015 Youth Summit in Washington. This story of youth empowerment has received global attention & it has been invited to conduct many international workshops including one on sustainable consumption at the World Conference on Youth in Colombo. UN Women recognised and felicitated Kehkashan for this unique initiative & invited her to speak at the “Leaders Forum on Climate Change” in New York on 22 Sept 2014 after which she took part in the historic Climate March.
Civil society, in general, still has pre-conceived notions and biased mindsets about the capability and passion of young people and this has been a challenge she has faced to her progress ever since she began her journey of sustainability at the age of eight. However, her efforts received a huge boost when she was elected as the Global Coordinator in 2013 for UNEP’s Major Group for Children & Youth at the age of 12. It served as a pathbreaking vindication of her belief that youth could be changemakers.
While her work has received support from most quarters, there has also been a downside - she has been a victim of cyberbullying. She has spoken against it openly in the media as she believes that a bully is basically a coward that backs away once confronted. By speaking up against it in a public forum, she also wanted to encourage other victims to come forward and face this.
TV interview link: https://youtu.be/HBV1Gq4NEUs?list=UU40DjtYCztZJN6btbiU-nuQ
Kehkashan's deeply moved by Robert Swan’s quote “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”. As a young sustainability crusader, she's been working to spread awareness to break free these shackles of apathy. The success of the Green Hope initiative is a lesson to all that young people can “be the change” through active involvement and passion. It has facilitated future generations to positively impact civil society, as evidenced most recently through its solar lamp campaign in an Indian village.
She was vindicated when her advocacy for gender equality resulted in her being invited to speak at the European Parliament in Brussels at the European Week of Action for Girls.