IMO gives children anti-pollution platform

An international gathering of government officials and technical experts has provided an unlikely setting for two 12-year-olds to speak out about their concerns for the marine environment and their fears for the legacy that the current generation of adults might bequeath them.

The 55th meeting of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), held in London this week, invited children from the Junior program of the International Marine Environment Protection Association (Intermepa) to speak about their activities to protect the marine environment.

left to right: Serra Kuman from Turkey (representing Turmepa Junior, Dionysia Lymperopoulou from Greece (representing Helmepa Junior), IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, MEPC Chairman Mr. Andreas Chrysostomou (Cyprus), Director, Marine Environment Division, IMO Mr. Jean-Claude SainlosDionysia Lymperopoulou from Greece (representing Helmepa Junior) and Serra Kuman from Turkey (representing Turmepa Junior) took the opportunity to highlight how their respective Marine Environment Protection Associations (MEPAs) had assisted them in gaining a better understanding of how immense the problem of marine pollution could be and how they had been motivated to become environmentally aware and responsible citizens of tomorrow. They also pointed out what they perceived to be the indifference of adults towards nature but noted that the common work for a cleaner planet by members of the MEPA Juniors - all children - had made them stronger in their convictions.

The two MEPA Junior representatives told delegates that it was the responsibility of all to hand on to the next generation a planet that is healthy and inhabitable by all species of flora and fauna. It was their generation, they said, as well as those to come, that would have to confront the planet's environmental issues. The MEPA Juniors suggested that they would punish ships leaving garbage, poisonous materials or invasive species in the seas of their beautiful countries. They also hoped that they could fund organizations trying to save marine wildlife animals and the marine environment. They called on IMO to use all its power to save the seas, which they said were a very precious treasure that needed help and protection.

In extending his sincere gratitude to the girls for making the journey to London, IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos recognized that their work had been effective in dealing with local environmental problems, such as marine debris on beaches in the communities of several countries in the Mediterranean Sea area, and in raising awareness of the need to protect the marine environment.

He stressed that children everywhere were sentinels in a world under pressure, yet, at the same time, they provided much needed hope for the future and we should listen to them and provide encouragement and support for their endeavours and ideas.

IMO has been working for some time to increase its visibility among younger people and last year helped a number of children to attend the Children's World Summit for the Environment in Japan, in co operation with the Junior sections of Helmepa, Turmepa and Cymepa. To strengthen its relationships with children in the wider world, the Organization is now actively planning a number of initiatives aimed specifically for children which will be unveiled over the next few months.

Briefing 37, 11 October 2006

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