"Trashable to Cashable" was the focus of Friday's (April 20) Earth Day Exhibition, which was staged by the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ) at the Hope Zoo in Kingston.
Chairman of the EFJ, Professor Dale Webber explained that the exhibition challenged schools from across Jamaica to showcase innovative ways of positively contributing to the environment, through methods such as: recycling, conserving and preserving.
“We tried to create an environmentally friendly atmosphere for the children by hosting the exhibition at the zoo, where they could earn and learn at the same time. Each school was given a grand tour of the facility, which allowed them to interact with the animals, creating some form of intimacy,” he said.
Mr. Webber added that, the initiative also provided a forum to educate students about some of the environmental issues affecting Jamaica, as well as mechanisms that can help to protect the environment.
“By educating the children about environmental issues at this stage, creates a level of awareness in their minds. Possibly, ten years from now, these same children will start educating younger children about the need to preserve, and protect the environment, for the benefit of younger generations to come,” he said.
He also noted that children are more open and susceptible to information, and that he is confident that they will pass on the information to their parents.
"By embarking on events such as this, is very useful in terms of educating our future generation, because they sometimes are unaware that, some of the things that they do, contributes to the destruction of the environment. It is exhibitions like this, that allows them to build a sense of pride, to care and appreciate their environment,” Mr. Webber pointed out.
Minister of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, who was the guest speaker at the gathering, said “activities like this will indeed be replicated by the Ministry, to raise awareness at the primary and secondary school level, of the need to protect the earth – Jamaica’s finest commodity”.
He informed that to achieve this, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) will be targeting a number of schools in western Jamaica, to educate students about different ways, to protect the environment. Importantly, he said that this will serve to remind the students of their emerging responsibility to the environment, and the expanding challenges that their generation will face, from issues such as climate change.
With this in mind, the Minister noted that educating both the formal and informal sectors about climate change, is one of the vehicles that must be used to help realise the various environmental objectives, in order to achieve some of the goals spelled out in Vision 2030. “One of the overarching goals of Vision 2030 – is that of a healthy environment. This year, the Government’s Earth Day activities include a focus on climate change, which is considered crucial, in light of the present and potential impacts,” he stated. The exhibition forms part of the activities to mark Earth Day, which will be observed on Sunday (April 22) under the theme, ‘Let’s mobilize: Conserve, Protect, and Recycle’.
By Jeneva Gordon, JIS PRO