As the world makes a concerted effort to go green, Kuwait’s youth takes significant steps in protecting our planet. Yara Al-Wazir, a student at the British School of Kuwait started The Green Initiative (TGI) in Kuwait* in 2009 and has led the organization on a journey to raise awareness about climate change through education and innovation.
Yara’s green affair started in 2009 after she attended the Global Youth Summit that brought together 60 community activists and social entrepreneurs to tackle world issues. She came face to face with people’s pain and heartache as she listened to what others had to say about AIDs, HIV, health and education. The weeklong workshop that led to the World Economic Forum trained the participants to find their voice, start their own campaign and deal with the media. Yara came back full of passion and equipped with the right tools to spread her message; this young lady is adamant about making a difference.
Khaleejesque Team: So can we say that the Global Youth Summit was your inspiration?
Yara Al-Wazir: I always knew about all the problems that face the environment but I wasn’t passionate about changing anything. The Global Youth Summit really shook me. Everyone else had something that was really close to his or her heart and I discovered that what I’m connected to the most is the environment.
KT: So what have you done for the environment since then?
YW: I started TGI and we’ve been changing people’s conventional idea of climate change. It’s not just global warming and polar bears! We approach climate change from a perspective that people in Kuwait can relate to. People need to see how climate change will affect their daily lives.
KT: What has TGI done so far?
YW: Our main event was ‘The Green Lens Exhibition’; it featured 40 photographers and10 designers. We had a photography competition first with 180 entries and they were all climate change themes. We also had fashion designers who designed dresses out of used materials as part of The British School of Kuwait’s Textile Course. All the entries were displayed at our exhibition; we had an amazing turn out and we made headlines in newspapers!
KT: How are people in Kuwait responding to your initiative?
YW: People are slowly but surely responding. When we announced that we were looking for photographers and photographs we got so many e-mails from people who wanted to help organize the exhibition. Most young people aren’t given the opportunity or the chance to show what they’ve got.
KT: What do you have in store for us?
YW: TGI is working with two summer schools and organizing scavenger hunts, fashion shows and building an architectural structure out of old newspapers to mirror the cradle-to-cradle concept. We want people to know that they can have fun with trash.
In our efforts to diversify and expand, we’re locating environmental activists from around the Gulf region and creating an online portal so they can reach out to each other and organize green events in their respective countries.
I’m also working on a surprise campaign with the Global Changemakers of Kuwait. You should expect something in September.
KT: What do you personally do for the environment?
YW: Well, I’m vegetarian 90% of the time! Did you know that the poultry industry releases more green house gases than the car industry?
My biggest environmental achievement is vowing not to fly for 6 months. I may be stuck in Kuwait for the summer, but I believe that it is worth it when I think of how much carbon I’m saving.
KT: What can our readers do for the environment? We’re already saving a lot of paper by being an ezine.
YW: Carpool for a day. In 24 hours, you’ll save money and 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Using canvas bags instead of plastic bags saves 14 million trees and folding paper instead of stapling saves 120 tonnes of steel. We should all just think about what we do and what it really means.
*The group is sponsored by the British Council’s Global Changemaker’s program.
– Images courtesy of Yara Al-Wazir.
By: Fatmah Al-Qadfan