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Last week Permanent Secretariat’s Team visited the ceremony of the International Children’s Peace Prize 2016. The prize is an initiative of the KidsRights Foundation, an international children’s aid and advocacy organisation based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The first Children’s Peace Prize was launched in November 2005 during the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome.

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“We welcome the launch of Children’s Peace Prize during our summit,” the summit’s closing statement said. Mikhail Gorbachev presented the 2005 prize, which was awarded to Nkosi Johnson, a South African boy who brought international attention to children with HIV/AIDS and founded the Nkosi’s Haven home for HIV-positive mothers and children. Since then, the prize has been awarded each year by one of Nobel Peace Laureates. The Permanent Secretariat od the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates is proud to be the partner of the KidsRights organization in this great initiative.

This year the Prize was given to Sixteen-year-old Kehkashan Basu from the United Arab Emirates for her fight for climate justice and against environmental degradation. Kehkashan received the prize from Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus in the presence of the world press and many prominent guests.

Professor Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his efforts for economic and social development, in his speech underlined the urgency and importance of Kehkashan’s work, as more than three million children under the age of five die every year from environment-related diseases and many more suffer deeply from environmental issues. Mr Yunus said: “It is a great achievement for such a young person to already have such reach and impact with her important message. A healthy environment is essential for the survival, wellbeing and development of children, and therefore it is a precondition for the realization of the rights of the child. Kehkashan teaches us that we all have a responsibility to work towards a sustainable future.”

When Kehkashan was eight, she started educating neighbours on the importance of saving the environment. She planted her first tree and brought together children to collect and recycle waste. She founded her organization Green Hope at the age of twelve, through which she has initiated countless cleanup operations and awareness campaigns. Kehkashan then became the youngest ever Global Coordinator for the Major Group for Children and Youth of the United Nations Environmental Programme. Green Hope has become an international organization with activities in more than ten countries and over a thousand young volunteers.

Upon receiving the prize, Kehkashan confirmed that her work will continue: “I will keep encouraging children and adults to create a more sustainable future. I call upon everyone to think of ways to contribute to the preservation of the environment. Take that extra step; walk that extra mile to get the future we want. Time is not on our side – we have to act now, or we will have polar bears under palm trees.”

Official website https://www.kidsrights.org