Youth Determined to Make Difference; Children's Express Reporters Sarah Montague, 15, and Daniel Monaghan, 16, Have Been at the Hague in Holland, Attending the World Conference on Biological Diversity. They Sent Back This Report

Article excerpt

The sixth conference on the convention on biological diversity (COP 6), running in The Hague, Holland, has significantly benefited from the young delegation attending, according to UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher.

"Children are the group within the population that are most interested in the environment, and for a very good reason, [they] are the future," he said.

"There is no point in having international conferences with Ministers, coming along making fine, prepared speeches and then nothing much happens. It's deceptive and actually counter-productive."

For the first time since its inception in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio, there has been a large emphasis placed on young people's viewpoints.

Official organisers the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Nature Management invited a youth delegate from each of the 182 countries at the conference.

Fifty youth delegates replied, accompanying their respective Ministers, in an official capacity, to all conference meetings.

Nearly 10 times that amount of young people were mobilised by Greenpeace International to campaign peacefully about the ancient forests.

Official Coca Islands youth delegate Moaroa Hosea, 15, has found it hard getting his voice heard in The Hague:

"Only a few Ministers listen to us, but I don't think a majority of them do," he said.

"In the past they didn't listen to us, so why should they listen now?"

He was more positive about his own government's response to local environment issues:

"Back home, we do protect our environment and we don't have any big problems. When the government set laws, they are obeyed and the government always try to help our environment," he said.

Although enthusiastic about young people's involvement in the conference, Mr Meacher's office did not respond to the invitation from conference organisers to bring a youth delegate.

However, Greenpeace UK flew two youth representatives from Britain to The Hague to present Mr Meacher with a signed plaque, containing over 30,000 signatures from UK children demanding the protection of the ancient forests. …