UAE 'green' teen bags Diana Award

15-year-old Kehkashan Basu. (Supplied)

Kehkashan Basu is not a regular teen. She’s a role model for many of her peers, constantly championing for a greener Dubai.

At 15, she isn’t worried about selfies or fashion trends. Instead, she is concerned about the well-being of our planet.

From an early age, she has been working towards spreading awareness about environment conservation, and has been motivating her peers to step in and be part of the revolution.

Kehkashan set up Green Hope, to train youngsters on sustainable development.

She also steps in as youth ambassador of world future council and has worked earlier as global coordinator for children and youth at Unep in 2013.

The Year 10 student at the Deira International School was recently honoured the International Diana Award in the ‘Active Campaigner Category’ for her work.

Her birthday, (June 5, which coincidentally falls on World Environment Day) was strangely the initial motivating factor. “Just before my eighth birthday, it struck me that it was probably pre-ordained that I should grow to up be an eco-champion,” she said.

“So with my birthday money, I decided to plant a tree in my building's garden. It was my first step on the green journey and my passion increased exponentially by the day, as I realised that there was so much that needed to be done and the onus was really on each one of us to make a difference.”

Green Hope was set up in 2012 after Kehkashan felt youngsters weren’t actively participating in protecting their plane.

“I was returning from the earth summit in Rio De Janerio, which set to chart out the future of our planet.

“I was surprised and to an extent, aghast, when I saw that amongst the thousands who attended and framed the policies, there were just a handful of children. It was our future that was being decided but we didn't even know and had very little say. I decided to change that and this is how Green Hope UAE was born.”

Green Hope now has over 1,000 members, with members in the Americas, Europe and SE Asia, and works towards encouraging and motivating youngsters to play an active role in environment conservation.

In July, Green Hope UAE champions held an event at the United Nations in New York, on the theme ‘Renewable Energy for Future Generations’.

“I draw inspiration from environmentalist Robert Swan who said, ‘The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it’.

“We, the youth, are the so called future generations and the onus is on us to define our own future. Kehkashan, who was elected to the UNEP when she was 12 years old urges her peers to dream big. She now aims to get Green Hope into an international youth platform, and dreams of planting a million trees in (her) lifetime and achieve a society that is carbon neutral”.

For her, the focus is on the “introduction of the sustainable development goals, which the United Nations General Assembly will formally adopt in September”.

She adds, “Green Hope will work actively at ground level to engage the youth towards the implementation of these new goals and targets to achieve the future we want.”

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