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Plant for the Planet, The International Tree Planting Campaign, Launched

Nairobi, 29 January to 8 February 2003 - Kenya is to be the launch pad for an international tree planting campaign that will see more than a million seedlings planted across the country by 2008.

The launch of the campaign, "Plant for the Planet", will be one of the highlights for delegates attending the Global Youth Retreat, taking place in parallel to the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Progamme (UNEP).

Over 50 young people, aged between 16 and 25 years-old and from 45 countries, will join with Kenyan school children and an international group of environment ministers on 8 February at the Ngong Forest Sanctuary to plant 4,000 trees.

The campaign, which is sponsored by the Japanese-based Foundation for Global Peace and the Environment and Total, is strictly in line with the new Kenyan government's push to restore forests and plant with native and rare, indigenous, trees.

The plantings will involve an estimated 47 native species including the East African Greenheart, warbugia ugandensis; the Naivasha Thorn tree, Acacia xanthophloea; the Brown or Wild Thorn Olive, Olea europeae africana; the Mulundu tree, Elaeodendron buchananii; the Pillar Wood, Cassipourea malosana and the Mugumo tree, Ficus thoningii.

Klaus Toepfer, UNEP's Executive Director, said: " Young people have a critical role to play in shaping the environment and helping to deliver a less poverty-riven world now, and in the future. Young people are some of the biggest consumers of goods such as mobile phones, computers and other electronic equipment. This is a growing area of concern, especially in developing countries where a great deal of this so-called 'E-waste' can end up. So the consumption patterns of the young are crucial in our push to deliver sustainable development ".

"Young people can also have a great deal of influence on their peers and elders in terms of promoting the new ideas we so urgently need to give the planet a fresh start. So I hope the ideas they develop here at their Global Youth Retreat, and which they will present to environment ministers attending out 22nd Governing Council, will influence the important decisions made not only here in Nairobi but back in their own communities when they return home, " he said.

"The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) gave us a blue-print for reducing poverty in an environmentally-friendly way. The Governing Council is about making this operational. It cannot be done without the participation of all walks of life including the globe's youth. They are also the future leaders of their families, communities and nations. I hope the retreat will inspire them to take the torch of a fairer, healthier and more equitable world forward," said Mr Toepfer.

Note to Editors: The youth retreat, which will open on 29 January, will also involve the election of a Youth Advisory Council to UNEP. Environment ministers at the Governing Council will, for the first time, discuss and adopt a long-term strategy on the involvement of children and youth in environmental initiatives.

Issues to be discussed at the retreat include the impacts of war on the environment, globalization and poverty, consumerism and the role of youth in implementing WSSD.

Countries participating in the Global Youth Retreat:

From Latin America and the Caribbean:Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Nicaragua and Venezuela in the Latin America and the Caribbean region.

The Africa region is represented by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

The Asia Pacific region by Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand.

The West Asia region by Bahrain, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.

Europe by Austria, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Portugal, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland and North America by Canada and the United States.

The "Plant for the Planet" launch will take place at 9.00 am, 8 February, at Ngong Forest Sanctuary. Environment ministers will join in at 11.00 am.

For More Information Please Contact Eric Falt, Spokesperson/Director of UNEP's Division of Communications and Public Information, on Tel: 254 2 623292, Mobile: 254 (0) 733 682656, E-mail: eric.falt@unep.org or Nick Nuttall, UNEP Head of Media, on Tel: 254 2 623084, Mobile: 254 (0) 733 632755, E-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org

UNEP News Release 2003/04