Today’s World Wetlands Day 2007 is themed ‘Wetlands and Fisheries’, in recognition of the importance of fish and fisheries to all people around the world.

Drawing on this year?s World Wetlands Day theme ?Wetlands and Fisheries?, social justice spokesperson for Queensland Greens said acting locally and thinking globally was one way Australians could help the future of the planet and its people.

Ms Jenkins, who this week returned from the founding congress of the Global Young Greens, said caring for our local wetlands set a responsible benchmark that countries overseas could be inspired to achieve.

?At the conference, I was particularly inspired by the action of young people to clean up their wetland and river systems so that their water was fit for human consumption.

?While we are, locally, struggling to save the bulk of our polluted waterways for the sake our flora and fauna, the young people I met were also struggling to save human lives.

?The link between the environment and social justice was made very clear to me.

?Water pollution affects the planet and its people. To consciously continue to neglect our wetlands in a rich country such as Australia and a rich state such as Queensland is unacceptable,? she said.

At the conference Ms Jenkins spoke with Nigerian youth, one who lived and worked in the Niger Delta.

Recent research showed that up to 1.5 million tons of oil, 50 times the pollution unleashed in the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster, has been spilt in the ecologically precious Niger Delta over the past 50 years.

?I was told that the pollution was destroying the lives of threatened rare species including fish, birds and primates and people were falling ill from eating toxic fish,? said Ms Jenkins.

?It?s also destroying the lives of many of the 20 million residents who live there, with large-scale incidences of violence.

?What an enormous job this young fellow had ? and he was looking to us Australians for advice and inspiration.

?It?s clear to me that our local actions provide this inspiration,? she said.

Ms Jenkins said she was also privileged to visit Africa?s largest slum.

?I was privileged to visit Kenya?s Kibera and meet with a youth group that is working on a water sanitation project.

?We were told that Kibera has a population of about 800,000 people. Although the people pay rent to landlords and electricity to third-party, non-government providers, they are not given any basic services such as water, sewerage and garbage collection.

?The young volunteers network with about 60 groups to educate young people about water sanitation in the slums.

?They are striving to clean the river network and, while their task and long-term goal is huge, their short-term work and initiatives are realistic and inspiring.

Ms Jenkins said the youth groups captured the attention of the youth through soccer games.

?Attracting up to 2000 spectators, they use the games as opportunities to educate the young people about topics such as HIV and water sanitation.

?We visited one of these soccer ?shanties? where the young men raised money by providing computer time, movie watching and ironing services.

?I saw narrow pipes that were meant to carry drinking water exposed and broken, allowing sewerage to seep into the system and further contaminate already polluted water.

?I saw children playing in a creek bed near what was once a forest-lined fresh water dam.

?After 30 years of neglect, the river and riverbed is compacted with rubbish and the water is black sludge.

?The cheerful greetings from the children; the hope in the eyes of the teenagers; and the adults? willingness to live ?normally? should be met with wealth, not poverty,? she said.

?Fish returning to Nairobi River and the local dam would be a dream come true to Kenyans as they firstly strive to improve water quality,? she said.

?Let?s ensure that we ? in Australia ? clean up our waterways, save our plant life and rescue our fish stocks so as not quash this dream,? she said.

For more information contact Elissa Jenkins or call 0418 786 986.

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