Young environmentalists to discuss how technology can harness the gifts of Nature
We love to hear news about youth being involved with the environment. Here’s one from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP):
Nairobi 24 August 2007 – More than 180 young people from 85 countries around the world will meet in Germany later this week to discuss ways in which technology can be used to promote environmental protection. ‘Technology in service of the environment’ is the theme of the third Tunza International Youth Conference, organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Leverkusen, Germany, from 26 to 30 August 2007.
These young people, aged 15 to 24, are all involved in environmental activities in their respective countries. They will meet at the headquarters of Bayer, the largest sponsor of UNEP’s children and youth activities, and the host of the conference, to discuss the critical environmental issues of today, including climate change, clean development and renewable energy. The youth will participate in workshops and field trips to experience first-hand how technology and environment can go hand-in-hand.
The Tunza conference, which derives its name from a Kiswahili word meaning “to treat with care and affection” or “to nurture” will reinforce the links between a growing network of young people working with UNEP on various environmental issues.
“Our hope is that on the basis of discussions at this conference, 180 young people will return to their communities and nations and become beacons of activities and also motivators for many others to play a part in addressing environmental challenges,” said Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of UNEP.
The participants will also participate in other activities, including the creation of the Tunza Globe and a performance on contemporary environmental issues, as well as a tree planting event in support of UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign, a global drive by UNEP to mobilize government, individuals, businesses and civil society to plant up to 1 billion trees in 2007.
At the end of the conference, the participants will elect a new Tunza Youth Advisory Council, with two advisors for each of the six UNEP regions (Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and West Asia), and two advisors representing indigenous youth organizations.
The main objective of the Council is to represent youth in international environmental fora and to make their voices heard. The Council also advises UNEP on better ways of engaging young people in its work.
The Youth Conference is hosted by Bayer, the first private company to engage with UNEP on a comprehensive environmental programme for young people. The partnership aims at strengthening young people’s environmental awareness and engaging children and youth in environmental activities around the world.
“We are looking forward to welcoming young environmental protection activists from all over the world to Bayer,” said Bayer Board of Management Chairman Werner Wenning. “This conference is a further milestone of our partnership with UNEP.”
“In working together with the private sector, with governments and with youth organizations across the world, the Tunza Programme has established itself as one of the fora of the United Nations to bring youth, the multi-lateral system and the environmental issues that we face in the world today, closer to each other,” said Mr. Steiner.
The Tunza International Youth Conference is one of the main platforms for cooperation and interaction between UNEP and its youth partners. It provides young people with an opportunity to share experiences and showcase their environmental activities. The conference also provides participants with an opportunity to develop regional and global networks for joint implementation of environmental programmes. It acts as a forum for UNEP to receive input from young people on programmes and processes involving youth.
“What I like most about the Tunza International Youth Conference is that it doesn’t only “speak” about youth, but it is made by youth for youth,” said Mihaela Hristova, UNEP Tunza Youth Advisor for Europe. “Time and time again it proves to be more than a conference – it is action-packed, inspiring and supportive. Although it only takes place every two years, its impact spreads far beyond those five days. It’s like a flame that you feel – and participants take a spark of it back home to spread.”
“At this conference, young people from around the world will share experiences with peers, including the importance of working with civil society, and engaging the Youth Advisory Council on environmental issues such as climate change,” said Abdoul Byukusenge, UNEP Tunza Associate Advisor for Africa. “Today’s youth are the leaders of tomorrow, and it’s essential that we take measures to protect the environment today in order to ensure a healthy future.”
The conference promotes environmental dialogue and strengthens young people’s capacity to develop and implement community environmental projects by allowing them to share experiences, create partnerships with their peers and develop regional action plans to address environmental issues.
About the Tunza Programme
The Tunza programme, endorsed in 2003, is a comprehensive six-year strategy to promote the participation of children and youth in every part of the world in environmental activities. It focuses on four thematic areas: awareness building, capacity building, information exchange and facilitating the involvement of young people in environmental decision making.
Other activities of the Programme include regional and sub-regional seminars and workshops in Asia and the Pacific, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean, a quarterly magazine for and by young people entitled Tunza, an annual International Children’s Painting Competition and an environmental illustrated series for children.
The event in Leverkusen follows conferences in Dubna, Russia, in 2003 and Bangalore, India, in 2005. It alternates every year with the Tunza International Children’s Conference which took place last year in Putrajaya, Malaysia, and will be held in Stavanger, Norway, in June 2008.