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Miss Environment and ‘green champions’ amplify nature-based solutions in Kenya

Mobilizing women and youth to restore landscapes
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Sumaya encourages her parents to plant trees. U.N. Environment Programme

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As International Women’s Day nears on March 8, UN Women is celebrating people who are driving actions to create the gender-equal world we all deserve. Meet one example in Kenya.

Joan Tonui was just 22 years old when she won the Miss Environment championship title in Bomet. She told the jury she wanted to work with women and children to raise awareness about living in a clean environment and to teach them about waste management in urban areas.

With a background in public health and a focus on water and sanitation, she had learned how some countries classify waste such as glass, plastic and paper into different groupings, and she wanted to introduce that concept to local primary schools.

She started visiting schools to introduce them to her initiative and taking it beyond waste management, to mobilize them to set up tree nurseries to raise fruit tree and indigenous tree seedlings that the community could later plant on school grounds.

This turned into the Green Champions Programme where she sets up competitions and the students who are most eloquent on environmental issues in their poetry, essays, drawings or school plays win the title of Green Champion.

 

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