Environmental protection and children's rights
Founded ‘Green Hope’, an organization with over 1,000 youth worldwide engaged in its activities
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
As if meant to be, Kehkashan was born on June 5, World Environment Day. Kehkashan was born in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where she still lives today. By the age of eight, she was already telling all who would listen about the urgency of environmental action. Soon she would plant her first tree and bring together young people locally to collect and recycle waste.
Kehkashan fights for 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 ruined. Climate change brings with it floods, droughts and hurricanes, destroying infrastructure, food, water supplies and housing, causing families to flee their homes. Heavy rainfall and changes in temperature have increased 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.
At a young age, Kehkashan understood the importance of preserving our planet, to protect children and their rights.
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), and spoke passionately about the contribution children can make to a sustainable future.
At 12-year-old Kehkashan founded her own organization, Green Hope, to work towards a sustainable future and climate justice. The organization runs a host of activities for children and young people, including waste recycling, beaches 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 youth worldwide engaged in its activities.
The Tree of Hope
Kehkashan uses every way she can 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 planted over 5,000 trees worldwide to date. Alongside tree planting, she 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 attending university and still leading her own organization Green Hope. She is raising awareness globally and locally on the harmful consequences to the environment of human behavior and engaging young people to counter these effects.
KidsRights empowers Kehkashan to be a strong changemaker for sustainability and children’s rights.
KidsRights encourages the local changemaking initiatives of the International Children’s Peace Prize winners. With help from KidsRights Kehkashan started an initiative for sea turtle protection. Because of human induced environmental degradation, many species are endangered or on the verge of going extinct. The Green Hope changemakers will learn more about the causes that lead to the extinction of sea turtles and the steps that the local community can take to aid in their conservation. This way they can inspire others to take action too!
At this moment KidsRights is looking into possible projects to fund through the International Children’s Peace Prize Fund 2016, relating to children’s rights and environmental protection.
“Time is not on our side. We have to act now, or we will have polar bears under palm trees.”
Kehkashan joined the The KidsRights Youngsters, a unique youth-led advocacy and awareness raising platform of the International Children’s Peace Prize winners, that aims to realise 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 youth worldwide.
The 16th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates - Bogotá, Colombia
Together with KidsRights and fellow International Children’s Peace Prize winner Chaeli Mycroft, Kehkashan travelled to Bogotá to promote the power of children and youth as changemakers for peace. Over 600 students from 17 countries joined her at the Summit. Kehkashan powerfully spoke out on environmental sustainability, and participated in workshops for young changemakers to inspire and stimulate them to connect and showcase their own projects for peace.