There is no doubt that Climate Change is one of the gravest challenges facing humanity. Immediate action is necessary to halt the effects of climate change. However, policy decisions and legalisms alone cannot address the issue. The situation requires heightened awareness with an eye on changing the behavioural patterns of peoples. To this end, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) supported by the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) & German Red Cross has embarked on a programme to educate, inform and to raise awareness on Climate Change and its impact to Sri Lanka.
The initial step of this broader programme will see the planting of 1250 trees in 130 schools in all 25 districts (5 schools per district & 10 schools in Matale), which got underway on the 15th of January 2013. The campaign is aimed at 6th grade school children in the 130 schools who have been given the responsibility of taking care of the plants throughout the year. They are also entrusted with the responsibility of monitor and recording the growth of the plant, helping them to understand how the role of trees helps to mitigate the effects of climate change.
“If we want to make a change we need to educate our children,” says the President of SLRCS Jagath Abeysinghe. “This is exactly why we chose to plant these trees within school communities. We get to teach the children the importance of safeguarding our environment and also given them a specific responsibility of taking care of it as well”
The SLRCS is committed in finding home-grown solutions towards the impacts of climate change, and are working with communities to strengthen their ability to adapt to the challenges posed by Global Warming. There is a particular focus on disaster preparedness, disaster risk reduction, and improving food security and livelihoods.
“Climate change poses severe threats to child survival and wellbeing, as well as their access to education and protection.” says the Director General of SLRCS Tissa Abeywickrama. “They will face more natural disasters as well as reduced access to water, malnutrition and changing disease patterns. In order to have a sustainable world for our children, we need to be aware that our actions of today will have a critical bearing on the future world that our children will inherit. It is therefore necessary to ensure that our Actions today contribute to a safer, better and greener world for tomorrow.” A healthy ecosystem, including forest canopy provides a long term carbon sink in the soil. The future generations should understand the grave threat that climate change poses and be effective agents of change in mitigation and adaptation initiatives.