“The Earth is our home. Protect our home.”
In a region known for its stunning natural beauty, it is fitting that people want to protect the environment and keep it for future generations. This was the spirit behind the 2017 Sulaimani Earth Day Festival, held in Azadi Park on April 22nd. The Festival was organized in collaboration with the international Earth Day Network and the March for Science.
The Festival began with a service walk around the park, during which participants picked up debris and rubbish. After the cleanup, approximately 20 organizations from around the city had set up informational tables to educate attendees about a variety of environmental, scientific, and healthcare issues. As the people enjoyed the exhibitor booths, live music was played, and poetry in Kurdish and English was performed. A “trash relay” competition was also officiated by the Suli Runners club.
The event was organized by students associated with the AUIS Environment Keepers club with significant input and help from Nabil Musa and Waterkeepers Iraq. Other environmental organizations that exhibited were Nature Iraq, Nature Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Botanical Foundation, the Ainda Organization, Green Environment, and the Persian Leopard Conservation project.
The Festival was not the first of its kind to be held in Azadi Park. From 2012 to 2014, Nature Iraq helped organize the Sulaimani Green Arts and Music Festival with similar goals. Zayne Amer, Senior English Instructor in AUIS’s Academic Preparatory Program, who participated in both festivals, said, “I’ve seen the positive impact that events like this Festival can have on the Suli community. Hopefully this will promote more civic engagement and activism in the future.”