Nairobi, 16 February 2005– A new generation of environmental leaders will be put through their paces when over 40 young people converge on Nairobi, Kenya, for the biannual United Nations Environment Programme’s Youth Retreat.
Participants from 34 nations will be taking part in the three-day event where they will outline how they can contribute in their own countries towards the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The eight Goals are aimed at issues including eradicating poverty, delivering safe and sufficient drinking water, factoring in gender and the empowerment of women into all facets of life and ensuring a vibrant, healthy environment.
This will be the fourth UNEP Tunza Global Youth Retreat. Tunza is the Swahili word meaning “to treat with care and affection”. The Tunza Programme was adopted by the Governing Council of UNEP in February 2003.
Klaus Toepfer, UNEP’s Executive Director, said: “ We attach great importance to youth as a key sector in society able to bring about change. Young people are far more open to new ideas and have the energy and enthusiasm to take them forward”.
“The environment demands creative thinking if we are to solve the problems of dirty water, degraded forests and declining wildlife. The Millennium Development Goals underpin UNEP’s work in tackling these and many other problems. I am sure our youth leaders will bring imagination to bear and concrete proposals to the table on how they and the wider world can realize their implementation”, he said.
The meeting, taking place from 16 to 18 February, will also advance plans for the 2nd Tunza International Youth Conference to be held in Bangalore, India, from 12 to 18 October 2005.
The Conference will be providing training programmes for young people on development and implementation of environmental projects, networking individuals and organizations and lobbying of governments to take greater action on the environment.
This week’s retreat will see young people, aged 16 to 24 years-old, meeting at the Nairobi headquarters of UNEP and at the Daybreak Health Farm.
They were selected by UNEP’s regional offices based on their involvement in environmental projects in their communities and countries.
Several of the participants are members of the Tunza Youth Advisory Council – a group of young people elected by their peers to represent them in decision-making processes on the environment.
The others are leaders of their organizations and recognized nationally for their work. They have been involved in environmental activities in their communities and have participated in national and regional processes on the environment.
“The retreat is an opportunity for us young leaders to be more engaged with UNEP’s work and specially to discover what other young leaders are doing in different parts of the globe. It is a place to learn, to enlarge our networks, develop new projects and therefore be more prepared to deal with the world’s challenges.” Camila Godinho, 24, from Brazil.
“The retreat is a fantastic forum for us to share our ideas, thoughts and plans of action for our respective regions and at the same time it offers us a chance to learn about each other’s cultures and clear any misconceptions we may have about our different regions.” Yvonne Maingey, 17, from Kenya
At the end of the Retreat, 6 youth leaders (one per region) will participate in the Global Civil Society Forum from 19 to 20 February and in the 23rd session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum from 21 to 25 February 2005.
The Governing Council will review an information document on the implementation of the Tunza strategy.
A roundtable discussion on youth participation in the implementation of the MDGs will be organized by the youth on 22 February 2005 for environment ministers and senior UNEP and UN officials.
The Roundtable will provide an opportunity to review ways of enhancing the participation of young people in the implementation of the eight Goals.
“This will be the first roundtable organized by youth during the Governing Council, a space where ministers and other governmental leaders will be able to learn how important it is to engage youth in the implementation of the Millenium Development Goals, seeing us as partners for development,” added Ms Godinho
Notes to Editors
Details on the Tunza Global Youth Retreat and the 23rd session of UNEP’s Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum are available at http://www.unep.org/gc/gc23/
For More Information Please Contact Eric Falt Spokesman/Director UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information, on Tel: 254 20 623292, Mobile 254 (0) 733 682656, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or Nick Nuttall, UNEP Head of Media, on Tel: 254 20 623084, Mobile 254 (0) 733 632755, e-mail email@example.com.
UNEP News Release