Green Cross Exchange Programme for Youth and Rio+20

At the Rio +20 Earth Summit in June 2012, Green Cross was of course there in support of the international youth exchange programme and a Green Future, together with a group of young adults from the USA, Brazil and Ghana. The majority of these young people are directly faced with the effects of various environmental disasters such as drought, climate change and chemical contamination (pesticides, chemical weapons).

The youth shared their personal experiences on environmental disasters and informed each other about possible solutions such as the “Green School” project for deaf young people in the United States. At the Rio+20 gathering they addressed organisations and politicians with demands in favour of a Green Future, thus enabling all children and youth around the world to grow up in a clean and healthy environment. Back in their respective home countries, these young adults are now involved with various projects in support of a clean environment and sustainable development.

Youths from Chernobyl and Fukushima exchange ideas
From 21 July until 2 August 2012, the Rio+20 youth exchange program continues in Switzerland  – Ruti b. Riggisberg BE – with the participation of 50 young people from Ukraine, Russia and Japan and the contaminated nuclear disaster regions of Chernobyl and Fukushima. During these days, youths discuss statements made by their colleagues at the Rio+20 summit meeting in order to further develop ideas for projects adapted to their home countries. In workshops addressing the topics of “environment and sustainability,” “dealing with radioactivity in everyday life,” and “a child’s rights to a healthy and clean environment” they face these problem areas and gain insight into the state of affairs in other countries. How to cope with radioactivity in everyday life, the correct preparation of foodstuffs, effects of radiation on the environment along with new perspectives are central themes. The Green Cross youth exchange programme not only permits participants to develop new ideas on environmental issues, but to also make friends from other countries and build-up confidence and hope.

Rio+20 message at the open-air event on parliament square
On Saturday, 28 July 2012, youth from Russia, Ukraine and Japan met with the youth parliament group Emmen for political exchange. And on 30 July 2012, the Green Cross youth group attended the open-air event on the parliament square in Berne with a direct appeal for a country with a heart – and naturally Green Future for all as echoed by the Rio +20 summit conference in June.

“Green Schools” for a care-free future
Among other things, the Green School projects meet with open ears. And thanks to the support of Green Cross, a first “Green Kindergarten” is due to commence in Pakul, Ukraine. Here, not a single kindergarten exists – and although a simple house would be suitable for this purpose, it lacks a heating system so that children don’t freeze and get sick in winter.

The Green Cross youth exchange programme grew from the core competence of the health and social medicine trainings programe of Green Cross Switzerland. Since 1995, Green Cross Switzerland offers children and youths a four-week stay in therapy camps. These camps take place in unpolluted natural environments in aid of local communities in Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine. Thanks to medical and psychological care, as well as healthy diet during the four-week stay, immune systems are strengthened and reductions of between 30 and 80 per cent in radiation values observed.

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Maria Vitagliano
SOCMED programme
Tel: +41-79 799 09 62.

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