Kids for the earth

I hope it is ok to repost these impressive speeches by 2 children, one from Brazil, the other from Germany, who spoke for rainforest protection at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Bonn. How impressive it is to see young people stand up for what they believe in!

The original post is on Greenpeace’s website here.

Speech Veronica Rameck (Brazil)

Dear delegates and young people from all over the world,

My name is Veronica. I´m here with my friend Jucelino, who is sitting with us here as I speak. Jucelino lives in the Amazon and experiences all the problems the rainforest faces on a daily basis. I come from Rio de Janeiro, a region which was once covered by the Atlantic rainforest.

Actually, it covered the Brazilian coast from north to south. Today, 500 years after the colonization of Brazil, only seven per cent of the Atlantic rainforest is left. And in the last 40 years, 17 per cent of the Amazon rainforest has been completely destroyed.

During these decades, government policies resulted in further forest destruction and social conflicts. Trees hundreds of years old were burnt, and species of fauna and flora threatened with extinction; indigenous peoples and traditional communities have been expelled from their lands. Defenders of the Amazon, such as Chico Mendes and Sister Dorothy Stang, lost their lives fighting for the forest and its people.

Destruction of the Amazon has many causes. Illegal and predatory logging opens the door to further devastation. Estimates are that 80 per cent of annual timber production from the Amazon is illegal. Of this total, 36 per cent is exported to several countries that don’t have actual measures for avoiding the import of criminal timber. It is time to stop illegal logging and trade.

The remaining forest is also felled and burnt to give way to pastures and soya plantations due to high prices of agribusiness commodities in the international market. In Brazil, production of biofuel, such as sugar cane, is replacing areas used for food production, and moving soya and cattle herds even deeper into the Amazon forest. In Indonesia, peatlands are being converted into palm oil plantations to produce biofuels. Instead of being part of the solution, biofuel may become a severe threat to the world’s tropical forests.

Destroying forests changes the climate. In Brazil, deforestation is responsible for 75 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, a solution to climate change must deal with stopping tropical deforestation.

The remaining ancient forests in the world should be preserved through a huge network of protected areas. As I said, only seven per cent of forest is left where I come from. The future generations do not want this fate for the Amazon and other forest countries. Governments must act now to show real political will and financial commitment to ensure the future of the forests and our own future.

At this point, I would like to hand over to my friend Paul.

Rede Paul Lüdemann (Germany)

My name is Paul, I’m 13 years old and come from north Germany. Perhaps it’s a bit odd that I want to do all I can for ancient forests, given that the ancient forests in Germany were already destroyed centuries ago. But, for the very reason that I come from one of the big industrialised countries, protecting ancient forests is particularly important, because here in Germany we consume them in the form of wood, paper and fuel all produced by destroying them.

This conference has set big goals – the decline in biodiversity is to be decisively checked by 2010. We all know that the conference has hardly got closer to this goal so far. The protected areas which would have to be created still don’t exist for the most part. Three points are especially important if your work is to be made a little easier here:

The industrialized countries need to spend 30 Billion euro each year to protect ancient forests in poorer countries. The German Government, as hostcountry, has to contribute two Billion euro and other rich countries like the US, Japan, Canada and others must follow. This is without question a lot of money, but I don’t know a more sensible way it could be used.

As well as this we need globally-binding laws which immediately prohibit illegal logging and trade in this wood. Last of all we cannot allow fuel said to protect the environment be produced when this destroys large areas of ancient forest and so does not even make a lower CO2 impact than conventional fuel does.

Global deforestation, which has to be stopped by the year 2015, has dramatic consequences not only for the plant and animal world, it is also a decisive factor in fuelling climate change. 20 per cent of CO2 emissions come from felling ancient forests and clearing them by fire. For this reason protecting ancient forests is to protect the climate – and this is why the Kids for Forests of the last few years have now become Kids for Earth, on whose behalf I speak here. Children and young people, not just from Brazil and Germany but also from all over the world have been active out of their concern for our common future. Because when all’s said and done this is what is being negotiated at this conference, and for this reason I want to appeal to you in the name of my generation: take concrete action now to at last put your own resolutions into practice. Do everything you can so that our habitat, the earth, is preserved for us, people after us and all other forms of life, because we don’t have a second one. I hope that this appeal to you in the name of 500 children and young people who are with us in Bonn, and in the name of the more
than 100,000 people who have signed our petition, will be taken seriously. After all we will be living with what is decided at this conference.

We, the future generation, count on you! Thank you very much!

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