Speeches | DeforestAction

09 June 2011

Honourable senators, I rise today to commend the the DeforestAction learning initiative and the work of the students and teachers involved in the project.

The DeforestAction initiative is a collaborative project that uses social media to engage students and teachers around the world regarding the important issue of deforestation. Since the project began last year, the initiative has worked with the Microsoft "Taking IT Global" social network to connect over 100,000 students.

The goal of DeforestAction is to haveone million young people involved in protecting vulnerable forests and learning about the complexity of issues related to sustainable forestry. A major success of the program was the construction of the Dome Tree, which will be a key feature of a new orangutan sanctuary in Borneo.  Ten young people will be able to live there and monitor the local ecosystem. The project includes other interactive initiatives, among them one that will allow students to monitor forests remotely using satellite images.

The fundamental aim of the DeforestAction initiative is to empower and connect young people. The project leaders believe that youth can be agents of change. And, it is clear, when are looking for solutions to complex, intergenerational problems like climate change, that we need all the energy of and engagement of young people that can be harnessed.

I want especially to thank Abraham Almaouie for making me aware of this project. This high school leader is taking part in the program with 10 other students from the Queen Elizabeth Secondary School in Edmonton. The director of the Centre for Global Education at that school, Terry Godwaldt, also deserves a special mention for his boundless enthusiasm for his work as a teacher and for encouraging young people to take action.

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