She was the only 12-year-old at the 42nd Session of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Manama, Bahrain. She was there to represent Belize and her generation and was given the opportunity to open the day’s session on Wednesday, June 27, 2018, where she delivered a strong and positive message to the UNESCO panel and participating members.
Just hours earlier, she was celebrating the removal of the Belize Barrier Reef System from the List of World Heritage Sites In Danger. She now had the opportunity to say something and those in attendance paid close attention to her words; they were impressed and motivated.
“I stand before you not only as a symbol of the future, but as part of a proud nation entrusted with safeguarding the Belize Barrier Reef System,” stated Madison in her address. “The people of my country have shown great passion in defending our livelihood against threats to our World Heritage site.”
Madison’s activism for the environment has garnered her Oceana’s Ocean Hero Award and the WWF International President's Youth Champion recognition. She has been working hand in hand with both organizations and says she is proud to collaborate with NGO’s that have played a crucial role in motivating people in the Belizean communities to get involved in the protection of the country’s natural heritage.
“I thank the Government of Belize for listening to us and taking the necessary steps towards our sites removal from the List of World Heritage in Danger,” continued Madison.
I dream of a Belize where we redefine our culture through education to include a deeper connection to nature and it’s value. A Brave Belize inspiring change all over the world. We may be a small nation, but me being here today proves that it’s the size of our courage and commitment that matters.
I would like to respectfully encourage representatives of each country present to think of my generation in decision making regarding our World Heritage Sites. Our Belize Barrier Reef and our planet depend on it. Thank you.”
Madison says she is truly thankful to WWF for making it possible for her and her family to witness such a significant event and express her thoughts with such influential people.
Madison Edwards chats with Belize Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Patrick Faber
Proud moment after her speech, Madison takes a pic with Michael Turner (UNESCO Chair Professor at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design), Nadia Bood (Mesoamerican Marine Scientist and Climate Change Officer at WWF Belize and Elena Khichtchenko (Global Campaign Manager at WWF International)
Madison Edwards and the WWF team in high spirits after Belize was removed form the In Danger List
Madison Edwards with the Belize Delegation at the 42nd Session of the World Heritage Committee