23 May 2008


23 May 2008
Press Release
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York





Polar Scientist to Join Students

From Australia, Canada, Malaysia, United States on 28 May

The United Nations Department of Public Information and the United Nations Environment Programme will launch the World Environment Day observance on Wednesday, 28 May, at a special event to take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., with the theme “CO2, Kick the Habit”. 

Students from high schools in Australia, Canada, Malaysia and the United States will discuss, via video conference, with students assembled at United Nations Headquarters, innovative youth projects that are contributing to a reduction of greenhouse gases.  The students hope to motivate their peers to create similar projects in their schools and communities. 

Christopher Shuman, an earth scientist from the University of Maryland’s Goddard Earth Science and Technology Center at the Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC), will join the conference at Headquarters to talk about his work on the vast ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland.  Welcoming the opportunity to share his research with the young people, he said:  “The rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is producing startling consequences for life on Earth.  …The leaders of tomorrow are in schools today.  A better understanding of how and why the cryosphere is changing now will benefit us all in the future.”

World Environment Day is observed each year on 5 June.  The observance is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the state of our environment, and highlights actions people are taking around the world to preserve the planet.  For several years, the Department of Public Information Outreach Division has organized a student conference to mark World Environment Day. 

The young people participating in the event this year will share six major youth projects that have great potential for reducing greenhouse gases.  Australian students from secondary and primary schools in Orbost, Victoria, are helping to rehabilitate the natural river bank environment of the Snowy River by planting rainforest species.  Farming and a diversion of the river for a hydroelectric scheme has led to a drying of the riverbank which will worsen due to climate change –- a phenomenon affecting many rivers.  The students are raising awareness of the issue. 

“People of all ages must be aware of the problem of global warming.  Adults must be aware so that they can offer solutions.  Young people must be aware because they are the ones who will be most affected,” said Victor Rodriguez, a student from the Paul Robeson High School for Business and Technology in Brooklyn, New York.  The school has developed educational materials to raise awareness of the impact of global warming.  Students will present Public Service Announcements, PowerPoint presentations, an interactive video game and a poetic visual essay on DVD to deliver their message about the impact our “consumer lifestyle” is having on the environment.

In Malaysia, students from SMK Teloi Kanan in Kuala Leti have been planting mangrove seedlings and seeds to save one of the few remaining mangrove habitats along the west coast of Malaysia.  The mangroves help to protect nearby coastal villages from storms and tsunamis and provide a habitat for crabs, fish and prawns, which can become a source of income for local residents.  The students are also spearheading a multi–year tree planting project.  This year alone, the SMK Teloi Kanan School is engaged in mobilizing students throughout Malaysia to plant a million trees by the end of 2008.

Vincent Massey Collegiate in Winnipeg, Canada,will presentan award-winning project that has reduced their school's energy bills and demonstrated the viability of alternative energy.  The student project has installed an Alternative Energy Array (AEA) composed of a small-scale wind turbine, solar cells, a green roof and a greenhouse in their school.  The green roof will insulate the school and reduce heating bills and water run-off.  Vegetables, to be grown in the greenhouse heated in the winter with energy generated by the wind turbine and solar cells, will be sold in the school’s cafeteria and any surplus will be used as compost. 

Another project, “(OF)2:  Our Footprints, Our Future”, will be presented by students from schools in New York City.  It encourages youth from around the world to use online tools and resources to measure their carbon footprint and develop ways to reduce their carbon usage.  The project’s goal is for a million students around the world to join together with their families, schools and communities to reduce the total global carbon footprint by 35,000 tons in the coming year.  The students will present an online calculator for youth to use in keeping track of their carbon footprint.

Students from the following schools in New York will gather at the United Nations to communicate with colleagues via video conference:  Bayard Rustin Educational Complex, Secondary School for Research, Holy Cross High School, Susan McKinney Secondary High School, Richard Green High School, the Paul Robeson High School, and the High School for Service and Learning.  The International Education and Resource Network (iEARN), which sponsors the online project “(OF)2:  Our Footprints, Our Future”, will also participate.

The entire conference will be webcast live.  Students and teachers from around the world are encouraged to join by sending comments and questions during the event via the UN Cyberschoolbus website:

Student conferences are organized at UN Headquarters by the Education Outreach Cluster of the Outreach Division of the Department of Public Information to reach out to students around the world and to facilitate an exchange of views on UN priority issues.  The student activities are an integral part of the Department’s educational outreach programme.

For more information on the student conference, please visit: or you may contact Y. Acosta at tel.:  212 963 7214, and B. Yotive at tel.:  212 963 1400.  For media accreditation, please visit

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.