Earth Day 2011 – Qatar Engages in Global Day of Conversation

It is not the leaders of today who will most feel the effects of environmental degradation and unsustainable energy and resource consumption.  It is the world’s youth and children.  As the United Nations notes, at 20% of the world population, youth and children are key to creating a sustainable future.  Earth Day, which is celebrated by over 1 billion people in 190 countries, was started by youth. The first Earth Day in 1970 saw 20 million secondary school and university students stage grassroots teach-ins to emphasize the need for a change in U.S. environmental policies. Over 40 years later, their legacy continues.

Qatar Foundation International (QFI) not only recognizes the importance of environmental awareness, but also the capacity for youth to be leaders in their communities. Earth Day Qatar 2011 brought these elements together in a day-long celebration in Doha, Qatar, that will feature presentations by keynote speakers; educational workshops organized by local environmental organizations; and youth service projects. Earth Day Qatar is then taking it to the next level by hosting a Global Day of Conversation where the Associate Vice Minister for the Environment will engage students in a dialogue on Sustainable Energy and the Green Economy.

All participants will then break into environmental workshop sessions focusing on alternative energy through solar power, energy efficiency through advanced technology, and water conservation, communicating with peers around the world using digital videoconferencing. QFI will use Cisco’s TelePresence technology to connect youth from India and Morocco with Qatari and American counterparts so that they can discuss local water issues. ”There are many environmental problems that confront us on Earth Day 2011,” said Margaret Mitchell Salem, Executive Director of Qatar Foundation International. “We need you – students gathered here today – to seize on these issues and, in your own way, take action.”

For Earth Day Qatar 2011, QFI has partnered with the Ministry of the Environment for the State of Qatar, Earth Day Network, Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute, Qatar Cool, Ocean for Life, Green Gulf, QF Office of Faculty and Student Services, and Cisco. Taking place in Doha’s Cultural Village, the event embodies QFI’s focus on creating a united world through international dialogue and young leaders through a platform of environmental sustainability.