11 year old Jada Neema speaks at St. Andrew’s Turi on Global Plastic Treaty

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In a powerful address to senior students of St. Andrew’s Turi, Jada Neema, the 11-year-old Chairperson of the Children Council at Clean Up Kenya, inspired her peers to take action against plastic pollution on 3rd July 2024. Traveling all the way from Malindi, where she studies, Jada shared her journey as an ocean conservationist and her work at Clean Up Kenya.

“Good morning, students of St. Andrew’s Turi! Thank you very much for having me here today. My name is Jada Neema, and I am so happy I traveled all the way to be here with you today,” she began.

Jada detailed her early involvement with Clean Up Kenya, noting her appointment to the Advisory Committee at just eight years old and her recent elevation to Chairperson of the Children Council. “At Clean Up Kenya, we conduct many voluntary clean-ups across the country, many of which are done by children and youth just like you,” she said, highlighting the participation of over 20,000 young people in Clean Up Kenya projects since 2016.

As Chairperson, Jada leads the Children Council in devising projects to combat environmental issues. She introduced the Kenya Children for Plastic Change project, an ambitious initiative aiming to collect 10,000 letters from children and youth across Kenya by November 2024. These letters will articulate the young generation’s concerns about plastic pollution and urge global leaders to take decisive action.

“Plastic pollution is a growing environmental crisis. Every year, millions of tons of plastic waste end up in landfills, rivers, and our oceans, with devastating effects on marine life, wildlife, and human health,” Jada emphasized. She recounted her firsthand experiences with clean-ups in communities, beaches, and forests, witnessing the severe impact of plastic waste.

Looking ahead to the end of the year, Jada underscored the significance of the upcoming global negotiations in Busan, South Korea. “My goal is to lead the children and youth of Kenya in having their voices heard by these leaders,” she declared. The letters will be addressed to key figures such as the Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee and UN Environment Executive Director Inger Andersen.

Jada plans to personally deliver these letters, accompanied by about 100 children from disadvantaged communities in Nairobi to the UN Environment Headquarters in Nairobi and if funding permits, she will also attend the Busan negotiations to further push for a robust global plastic treaty.

“Why are these letters important? Some countries are planning to derail the development of a strong treaty,” she warned, calling for collective support. She urged the students of St. Andrew’s Turi to begin by writing their letters, appreciating the school’s cooperation in launching the project as part of their Round Square initiative.

In her closing remarks, Jada reminded her audience of their role as stewards of the planet. “By supporting initiatives like the global plastic treaty, we can help create a cleaner, healthier world for our future and generations to come,” she concluded.

Following her speech, there was a lively panel discussion and engagement from the students, followed by the letter writing.

Jada’s speech was part of a series of week-long activities under the global Round Square initiative done at over 250 elite schools in over 50 countries around the world where students develop ‘global competence, character and confidence in students’.

Mr. Edward Lea, the organizer of this year’s Round Square at St. Andrew’s Turi has made the following statement:

Clean Up Kenya provided a range of interactive activities for students at our school to understand the problem of plastic waste and plan impact-reducing strategies for the future. They also went to great lengths to find suitable locations for clean-up clinics and were highly proficient at liaising with local stakeholders beforehand. I strongly advise inviting them to your school or institution.

Edward Lea, Round Square, St. Andrew’s Senior School, Turi

Jada was accompanied by fellow Council Member Natasha Kendi (13), as well as Clean Up Kenya Founder and Patron, Betterman Simidi, Clean Up Kenya Advisory Council Chairperson, Ruth Okinyo and a prominent less plastic campaigner, James Wakibia.

From left: Front – Betterman Simidi, Jada Neema, Natasha Kendi and James Wakibia – Back – Edward Lea