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For Teachers and Students, Teens: One Planet, Many People

May 21, 2009

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This is a video of the awards presentation and spoken word program from One Planet, Many People. The presentation includes remarks by: Elaine Goldberg, New York Department of Education; Amy Fraenkel, Director, UNEP RONA; Elaine Charnov, The New York Public Library; Gillian Sorensen, Senior Advisor for the UN Foundation; and Deanne LaRue, The Meridian Foundation. The spoken word program featured: Maya Imani Williams; Kesed Ragin; Alexis Marie; Jasmin Manns; and Brannon Woodfin.

About One Planet, Many People
New York City high school students design projects around the challenges of energy, deforestation and brownfields in the One Planet, Many People Research Project Competition and exhibition. The winning entries will be announced in an interactive awards ceremony at The New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue on Thursday, May 21, 2009.

Prizes are to include college scholarships donated by the UN Foundation, the Meridian Foundation and Baum Foundation;  attendance at the United Nations Foundation Youth Leadership Summit on Climate Change in New York City; and summer internships at the Library.

One Planet, Many People is an initiative of the Community Learning Support Organization of the New York City Department of Education and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in partnership with The New York Public Library, the Meridian Foundation, the Baum Foundation and the United Nations Foundation.

“UNEP is proud to be affiliated with this initiative, and congratulates both the students and teachers for their commitment and hard work, which resulted in an impressive body of work that reveals a high-level of environmental awareness,” says Amy Fraenkel, Director of UNEP’s Regional Office for North America.

“The New York Public Library is a terrific place for students (and teachers) to access primary and secondary sources and innovate new ideas; we are excited to host this collaborative project,” said Elaine Charnov, Director of Education, Programming and Exhibitions at The New York Public Library.

“I reached out to forge collaborations with organizations possessing global missions, for the purpose of helping to make learning in our social studies classrooms a global and relevant real-world experience for our youngsters,” said Hadiya Daniel-Wilkins, EA. Sr. Instructional  Program Specialist  for High School Humanities, Department of Education, City of New York. “To that end, a research project was designed to help increase inquiry learning, academic skills development and challenge the teaching and learning of world issues from sources beyond the textbook.  The collaboration with the United Environment Programme, the United Nations Foundation and The New York Public Library will not only provide our students with opportunities to share their research findings with peers in various parts of the world, it will simultaneously help our students increase understandings of our geography and our global interdependency.”
The aim of this competition is to challenge the students to create web-based presentations, performances and products that will inspire environmental action.  It also provides a real-world learning opportunity for urban youth, who rarely have the opportunity to have their voices heard in a global arena.

“This project allowed me to get more in-depth with a topic I knew a little something about.  I can now teach others about aspects of and the realistic effects of globalization.  My view on how the world operates is now different.  I now realize that when things happen to people how it influences decisions our politicians make,” said Pedro Crespo, 10th grade, Murray Bergtraum High School, Manhattan, New York.

“This project taught me that brownfields have a heavy impact on the economy, environment and mankind.  I was also very surprised to discover how many people did not know that brownfields existed, when we were conducting our surveys,” said  Lamis Abdul Waheed, Metropolitan Corporate Academy, Brooklyn, New York.  
Throughout the spring semester, the students met in social studies classrooms and libraries to work on their projects. The students were challenged to undertake research on global issues championed by UNEP and the United Nations Foundation.  To complete their projects, students had access to United Nations and Library resources and were given comprehensive guidelines, which had to cover the areas of environment and society; human systems; and human rights.

The projects will be judged by representatives from the New York City Environment Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and McKay Thomas Architect Company. Awards will be presented by Amy Fraenkel, Gillian Sorensen, Senior Advisor for the UN Foundation and Deanne LaRue, Executive Director of the Meridian Foundation.

The competition and exhibition are named after the UNEP publication One Planet, Many People, which illustrates 30 years of global environmental degradation through satellite images. For more information on the Atlas see

Schools which participated in this research competition and exhibition:

Abraham Lincoln High School
Acorn High School for Social Justice
Automotive High School
Canarsie High School
Curtis High School
Frederick Douglas Academy IV
George Westinghouse High School
High School for Enterprise Business & Technology
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School
John Dewey High School
Metropolitan Corporate Academy
Murray Bergtraum High School
Paul Robeson High School
Science Skills High School
Unity Center for Urban Technologies
William E. Grady Career and Technical High School
Middle School 203

Support for this event was provided to The New York Public Library by The Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation.