600 Children Walk for the Protection of the World's Endangered Species

Press release - 7 November, 2002

Some of the six hundred children from Santiago joining in a Walk for Endangered Species held in the city today.

Over six hundred children from Santiago today held a Walk for Endangered Species to send a message to the world governments, meeting in this city for the 12th Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), about their concern for the Earth's endangered plants and animals.

Children ranging in ages from 10 to 17 held a symbolic march along one of Santiago's main streets and congregated in front of the Diego Portales Convention Centre where CITES delegates from 160 countries are meeting to discuss international trade and endangered wildlife.

Participants were met at the entrance to the meeting hall by the Secretary General of CITES, Wijnsteecker, and the current CITES chairperson, Sergio Bittar from Chile and the Head of the Chilean Delegation, Jaime Campos, to whom the children expressed their concerns:

"We believe the world belongs to all living things, not only to those with the money. We want whales and elephants and mahogany trees to be protected from abuse by human beings," reads the children's written statement (1).

The march was accompanied by large inflatable animals representing several of the world's endangered species: an elephant, a whale, a jaguar and a huemuel-a deer from the Chilean Andean region. A banner reading "Don't sell the planet" was also displayed. The 400 metre long banner that covered the length of the parade was made by attaching together smaller flags made by children from France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and from various regions of Chile.

Greenpeace activists and volunteers also joined the march. Music from the world's oceans and forests provided the background.

Last April, hundreds of children from over 17 countries raised their fears about the world's rapidly disappearing ancient forests at the Convention on Biological Diversity held in The Hague, The Netherlands.

"It's time governments realised that the children of the world, those who are to inherit this planet in a few years are not going to let us get away with destroying it today," said Gina Sanchez of Greenpeace, speaking from the CITES meeting. "We must all do everything we can to ensure that our children's natural heritage is not traded away to extinction."

CITES will be discussing over 50 proposals to increase or decrease the protection status of a wide group of species. In many cases, this will mean deciding whether to put a particular species at risk for short-term economic gain or to protect their long-term survival.

Greenpeace is supporting numerous initiatives at CITES, in particular proposals to protect mahogany, toothfish and sharks and strongly opposing proposals that would undermine the protection of whales and elephants (2).

VVPR info: For photos: John Novis, ++31-653819121

Notes: (1) Children's statement available upon request.(2) Greenpeace is calling for support of the proposals to list Big Leaf Mahogany and Patagonian Toothfish to Appendix II of the Convention. Greenpeace strongly opposes the two proposals to downlist Minke and Bryde's Whales from Appendix I to Appendix II, paving the way to a resumption of commercial whaling.