Environmental protection and children's rights
Founded ‘Green Hope’, engaging over 1,000 young people in environmental activities worldwide
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Kehkashan is a natural changemaker. Born in the United Arab Emirates on June 5, World Environment Day, she has always been passionate about protecting the planet. By 8 years old she was persuading those around her of the importance of environmental action. It was not just empty talk: Kehkashan soon put her words into action by planting trees and bringing together young people locally to collect and recycle waste.
A healthy environment for children
Environmental degradation is a real threat to children and their rights. Every year more than three million children under five years old die due to environmental causes, and the lives of millions more are destroyed. Climate change brings with it floods, droughts and hurricanes. These destroy infrastructure, food, water supplies and housing, and families are forced to flee their homes.
Heavy rainfall and temperature changes increase the incidence of diseases caused by water contamination and poor sanitation. Young children are the first to get sick. There is no doubt: a healthy environment is a precondition for the fulfillment of children's rights.
Kehkashan has always understood this clearly. To protect children and their rights, we must protect our planet too.
At just 11 years old, Kehkashan was invited to address the TUNZA Children and Youth Conference in Indonesia. The following year she became the youngest delegate to address a press conference at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), speaking passionately about the contribution children can make to a sustainable future.
At 12 years old, Kehkashan founded her own organization, Green Hope, to work for a sustainable future and climate justice. Green Hope runs a host of activities for children and young people, including waste recycling, beach and mangrove cleanups, tree planting and awareness campaigns. Its environmental academies and conferences have reached over 3,000 school and university students to date. Green Hope has grown into a truly international organization with over 1,000 young people engaged in its activities.
Kehkashan uses every means at her disposal to teach children about the need to protect the environment and to empower them to take action. Alongside her practical activities and international advocacy, she has also written a book called “The Tree of Hope”, in which a young girl turns a desert landscape into an oasis by planting trees and persuading her friends to join in.
"Planting trees is the simplest yet most effective way to diminish climate change and land degradation."
Green Hope has, to date, planted over 5,000 trees worldwide. Alongside tree planting, Kehkashan encourages children and adults to make a personal pledge to the tree of hope. What will you do to create a more sustainable future? "Take that extra step," she says, "walk that extra mile to get the future we want."
Supported by the KidsRights Care and Study Fund, Kehkashan is now attending university while continuing to run Green Hope. She is training for the future while raising awareness locally and globally of the ways human behavior is damaging the environment. Every day she inspires and engages young people in the fight to protect our planet.
KidsRights is proud to, with your help, empower Kehkashan as a global changemaker for sustainability and children’s rights.
KidsRights supports new changemaking initiatives from International Children’s Peace Prize winners. With our help, Kehkashan has set up a project about sea turtle protection, teaching Green Hope changemakers about the environmental degradation - caused by human activity - which drives many species to the verge of extinction. Her changemakers will learn about the steps that the local community can take to prevent environmental damage, and what they can do to protect the sea turtles. Starting with Green Hope, the news will spread into the community, inspiring others to take action too.
KidsRights is currently looking for projects about children's rights and environmental protection to fund through the International Children’s Peace Prize Fund 2016.
"Time is not on our side. We have to act now, or we will have polar bears under palm trees."
Kehkashan is a member of The KidsRights Youngsters; a unique youth-led advocacy and awareness-raising platform of International Children’s Peace Prize winners, that aims to realize children’s rights as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As leading young changemakers, they act locally, speak out to world leaders, influence policy, and engage children and young people worldwide. What these inspiring youngsters have achieved on their own is amazing. But that is just the beginning. With our support, their ambition to change the world can be limitless.
Together with KidsRights and fellow International Children’s Peace Prize winner Chaeli Mycroft, Kehkashan travelled to Bogotá early in 2017 to promote the power of children and young people as changemakers for peace. Over 600 students from 17 countries joined her at the summit. Kehkashan made a powerful speech on environmental sustainability, and participated in workshops for young changemakers to inspire and stimulate them to connect and showcase their own projects for peace.