Climate Change, Loss of biodiversity, Desertification and Waste Top First Ever Gathering of African Children on the Environment
"Practice what you preach" is the theme of the Regional Children Conference
Yaoundé/Nairobi, 30 July 2007 – About 200 children from 35 countries in Africa and Norway are meeting in Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon to voice their fears about the current trends in the environment and urge African leaders and Decision makers to practice what they preach. The Conference is co-organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection in Cameroon, in collaboration with UNICEF, UNDP and UNESCO, with the financial support of Young Agenda 21 in Norway.
The four days Regional Children Conference aims to provide a platform for children to learn about the environment through plenary sessions and hands-on workshops and field trips; share views and concerns about the environment; enhance the skills of children and their chaperones on sustainable development; and develop lasting friendships. The Conference is being organized in preparation of the Global Tunza Conference on the Environment, which will be held from 17 to 21 June 2008 in Stavanger, Norway,
Children are discussing major environmental challenges facing Africa such as Climate change, Forest and biodiversity, land degradation and desertification, water resources, waste management and recycling. They also share their experiences on environmental friendly practices in the daily life and learn from each other, by practical exercise, interaction, presentations, and field trip.
One of the highlights of the conference is the planting of 5000 trees in the capital city of Cameroon, as a contribution of the Conference to the Billion Tree Campaign initiated by UNEP, which was launched during the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) last year in Nairobi. This exercise is also a concrete action towards addressing some of the environmental problems that affect the hills in Yaoundé, such as erosion and landslides resulting from the serious deforestation in the city and the rest of the country.
UNEP Representative at the Conference Mr. Strike Mkandla said "The choice of Cameroon for this conference is not an accident. The country retains its magnificent forest cover and rich diversity of plants and animals. It has committed itself to plant 45 million trees under the UNEP Billion Tree Campaign.
The theme of this conference is very appropriate at this stage in the development of the world. "Practice what you preach" is an important motto, not just for children but for everyone. There are important adjustments that need to be made in our lifestyles, and little actions that cumulatively make a difference. The topics of the conference highlight the areas in which action is urgently needed: Climate change and food security, Forests and Bio-diversity, Water and Sanitation/Waste management, Drylands and Deserts. He concluded.
Children attending the Yaoundé Conference are also expected to draft a letter to the leaders of Africa and the world and to the Secretary General of the United Nations, expressing their concerns about their right to a clean environment, education, health and sanitation, security and peace as the world is getting close to the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals.
The Yaoundé Conference is part of UNEP strategy to enhance children and Youth participation in environmental activities and management. Under an overall concept entitled "Tunza" UNEP has developed a strategy with the view to increase the participation of young people in environmental issues. Its objective is to create a global movement in which children and youth worldwide will actively participate in environmental activities. It seeks to enhance, inspire and enable the involvement of children and youth in sustainable development. The vision is to foster a generation of environmentally conscious citizens who will better influence decision-making processes and act responsibly to create a sustainable world.
Notes to Editors
The first ever Children regional conference on the environment is taking place from 30 July to 2 August 2007 in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
UNEP started its work with young people in 1985, which was designated International Youth Year. Since then, it has developed several global and regional initiatives, activities and networks. UNEP has held regular conferences for young people and promoted environmental awareness through competitions, recognition and partnerships with international, regional and national organizations working with young people. UNEP has also involved young people in its Governing Council sessions and in the development of regional and global environmental reports. UNEP also supports activities of children and youth in school and universities. More information on UNEP-Tunza can be found at www.unep.org
For More Information Please Contact Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, Office of the Executive Director, on Tel: +254 20 762 3084; Mobile: +254 733 632 755, E-mail: Nick.Nuttall@unep.org ; or Angele Luh-Sy, Regional Information Officer, on Tel: 254 20 762 4292, Mobile: 254 722 429 770, E-mail: Angele.Luh@unep.org