A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME opportunity was afforded a Grade 9 learner from Mtuba Christian Academy, who was chosen to represent the iSimangaliso World Heritage Site in helping launch UNESCO’s #MyOceanPledge campaign.
On World Oceans Day, Buntu Sibiya delivered her message to more than 2 000 delegates, 40 heads of state and royalty at an event at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
One of only three youngsters chosen to speak at the event, Buntu’s message highlighted the importance of the world’s oceans
‘As one of UNESCO’s ‘jewels of the ocean’, iSimangaliso Wetland Park is important to our community as a source of recreation and employment, protection of animals and resources such as fishing,’ said Buntu.
‘People need to realise that plastic pollution is killing our oceans and turtles, over-fishing damages our food source and ocean mining threatens our heritage.’
Two weeks before the event, Buntu had to submit a video in which she stated what she loves about the ocean and what she believes is responsible for destroying our world’s marine life.
She also had to state her pledge to protect the ocean.
‘I pledged to protect the ocean for future generations, to raise awareness of the activities such as over-fishing and ocean mining responsible for the death of our ocean,’ said Buntu.
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‘When I was invited to attend the UNESCO event I was shocked, but then realised the responsibility I had to set a good example for my country.
‘I found New York to be very fast-paced, but enjoyed the sights we got to see such as the Statue of Liberty, subway and the view from the New York Times building.’
When Buntu finishes school she plans to undertake a calculation of the percentage of the ocean that has already been destroyed and compare it with that which future generations have left to enjoy.
Signing of the #MyOceanPledge campaign was spearheaded by Prince Albert II of Monaco, joined by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Environment, Adrian Grenier.
‘We would like to congratulate Buntu for representing the school and iSimangaliso at the world marine celebration in New York. We watched the video online and seeing her as one of the three who presented was so exciting,’ said Buntu’s school Principal Leonard Mthembu.
Anyone can participate in the #MyOceanPledge on social media, simply by posting, ‘I pledge to protect the ocean for future generations’ on whc.unesco.org/myoceanpledge. Then share on social media with UNESCO Marine World Heritage – @Fdouvere using the hashtag #MyOceanPledge.
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