NEW DELHI, India, July 24 2009- Ahead of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December, the children and youth of the planet -- emerging leaders representing three billion people -- will converge in the Republic of Korea for the biggest youth gathering on Climate Change to voice their demands for action from their governments.
Some 800 participants from over 100 countries attending the Tunza International Children and Youth Conference, in Daejeon (Republic of Korea), 17-23 August 2009, will demand that their governments reach a scientifically-credible and far-reaching new climate agreement in Copenhagen.
By staking their claim to a low-carbon, resource-efficient, environmentally-sustainable future, the generation that will inherit this planet will also remind the world that they have the greatest stake in the creation of the green economy of tomorrow.
The Children and Youth Conference is part of the global UN-wide Seal the Deal! campaign being spearheaded by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to galvanize political will and public support for reaching a comprehensive global climate agreement.
Over the coming months, the Seal the Deal! campaign will mobilize over one million young people to march across one hundred capitals and deliver to global leaders their declaration of priorities on climate change as agreed at the Tunza Conference.
The participants for the Tunza Conference were selected from thousands of applicants based on their outstanding green achievements on their home turf -- including in India and the rest of South Asia -- and the impressive range of initiatives illustrate just how much today’s children and youth understand and want to commit to the environment.
Some of the striking and creative projects started by the young Tunza participants include an award-winning original rap video by two Canadian teenagers on how to reduce our environmental footprint, a drive to distribute 500 low-energy lightbulbs in Nepal, a carpooling initiative in Samoa, the creation of a “Navajo Green Economy Fund” to generate green jobs for Navajo youth, a recycling project in Sierra Leone and a river clean-up in Russia, among many other examples. All the initiatives will be put to a popular vote during the conference to determine the best one out of the several hundred on display.
The Daejeon conference will also see the launch of a social network platform for youth on climate change – my.uniteforclimate.org – and a Google/YouTube Global Youth Debate on climate change that will continue online until the Copenhagen meeting in December.
The participants will take part in a host of activities from the practical to the far-reaching, from making natural soap to sharing ideas on how to mobilize mass youth action for the environment. Through workshops on key issues including water, sustainable lifestyles and endangered species, they will have a chance to debate, discuss and share tips on how to make the world a greener place and take charge of their environmental future. Other activities in the packed weeklong schedule include sessions on green jobs, a workshop on making a solar energy car, the painting of a mural and a concert of instruments made from recycled material, among many others.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said: “The Children and Youth Conference is an important gathering of young people and an opportunity for them to discuss and to prepare their positions surrounding Copenhagen and climate change, but it is more than that. It is a gathering of the generation that will inherit the outcome of the decisions taken in December and beyond.”
“For it will be in the lifetime of the three billion children and young people alive today that the glaciers of the Himalayas will either persist or melt away; that the sea levels will stabilize or rise, swamping a third of Africa’s coastal infrastructure; that the Amazon will remain the lungs of the planet or become an increasingly dried-out and disappearing ecosystem, and the polar bear will continue as the iconic species of the Arctic or, like the Dodo and the dinosaurs, merely an artifact in the world’s natural history museums,” he added.
About the conference
The Tunza International Youth Conference is being hosted by UNEP and the UNEP National Committee for Korea with the support of the Daejeon Metropolitan Government and several UN entities including UNICEF, UNFPA, FAO, WMO, UNESCO and UN/DESA, as well as international youth organizations like the World Organization of the Scout Movement and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, and private sector partners, such as the Bayer corporation, the Hyundai-Kia Automotive group and Samsung Engineering.
The children and youth taking part in the conference were selected from 3,000 applicants on the basis of their environmental projects and how active they are on green issues. This year’s edition is the first time the Children and the Youth are being brought together for the same conference -- the “children” participants are 10-14 years old and the “youth” participants are 15-24.
The word ‘Tunza’ means ‘to treat with care or affection’ in Kiswahili. The Tunza Youth Strategy, adopted in 2003 by UNEP’s Governing Council, is a long-term strategy to engage young people in environmental activities and in the work of UNEP. The Tunza initiative aims to develop activities in the areas of environmental awareness and information exchange on the environment for children and youth. For more information, please visit www.unep.org/Tunza/
Outstanding projects and youth leaders from South Asia
Vinay Sabbithi, from Andhra Pradesh, works with the Association for Environment Conservation Advocacy & Solutions (AECAS). He has organized several seminars and competitions for students and youth on the environmental issues.
Fourteen-year old Nguyen Bich Van encourages sustainable lifestyles through sharing funny images of environmental problems to help people understand the impact of their actions and to be more environmentally aware.
Ratnesh Shashi advocates for better use of natural resources. He was involved in a project with CEPHED (Center for Public Health and Environmental Development).
Bhuwan K.C. is the initiator of the Change the Bulb Campaign which is aimed at energy conservation through promotion of energy efficient technologies like Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). An estimated 500 bulbs have been replaced since the start of the project, and awareness has been raised among 2500 households. Currently the campaign is planning to develop an energy friendly village and a Youth Carbon Fund.
Mirza Mubashir initiated a Green TIRE campaign in his city to reduce pollution. He is also an active supporter of UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign.
Anoka Abeyrathne has completed a study on pollution of the Bolgoda Lake, formulated an action plan that could be implemented by stakeholders, and planted 12,000 mangrove trees in the wetlands of the Bolgoda Lake. The aim of the project is to prevent the wetlands from being destroyed, whilst at the same time supporting farmers to minimise the use of the pesticides and encouraging farmers to use organic farming.
Belal Hossain was instrumental in encouraging his community to use land for a tree plantation. Together with other energetic youth, they convinced the local administrative and political leaders to implement the project.
For More Information Please Contact:
United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan
55 Lodi Estate, New Delhi-110003, INDIA