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Press Release

Youth Leaders Gear Up to Voice Environmental Concerns and Aspirations to Ministerial Forum
12/ 02/ 2009

Youth Leaders Gear Up to Voice  Environmental Concerns and Aspirations to Ministerial ForumYouth leaders from sixteen countries are gathered in Nairobi, the headquarters of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), to voice the concerns and aspirations of young people around the world in relation to a host of pressing environmental issues, including climate change.

Youth leaders from sixteen countries are gathered in Nairobi, the headquarters of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), to voice the concerns and aspirations of young people around the world in relation to a host of pressing environmental issues, including climate change.

These young leaders will put together recommendations that represent the vision of the future generation on how to tackle environmental challenges. Their vision will be presented to a high-level meeting of Ministers of Environment - known as UNEP's Governing Council / Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF) - that takes place every two years. The GC/GMEF will be held in Nairobi from 16 to 20 February 2009.

The process is part of UNEP's strategy to engage young people in decision-making , implemented through a global youth programme, known as TUNZA, a word in Swahili, which means to treat (the planet) with care and affection.

Here, we review what the young environmentalists had to say on a number of issues:

The role of Youth

"The role for us youth is to give a voice to youth as a whole, because there are three billion youth around the world, so how do we influence policy makers? We are concerned youth need to have stronger presence. One voice alone may not be heard, but if many voices may win an ear."
Margaret Koli, Kenya
Youth Advisor

"We are organized, effective, passionate individuals who are committed to the basic survival of everyone, because right now survival is not guaranteed for the least developed nations or the small island states. They literally face extinction of their entire way of life, entire cultures, entire islands, are at risk and we stand in solidarity with them."
Mattew Maiorana, USA Watch Mattew's message
Tunza Youth Advisor

Towards an International Agreement on Climate Change

In December, world leaders are set to meet in Copenhagen to reach an international agreement on cutting down carbon emissions to combat climate change.
"Copenhagen is absolutely going to be one of the most important events that any one of us has seen. I'm really excited for the event and I'm also really nervous because of how much has to happen between now and then."
Mattew Maiorana, USA Watch Mattew's message
Tunza Youth Advisor, North America

"On the road to Copenhagen, what we hope to do is influence policy makers prioritize climate change issues."
Oliver Goth Goon, Singapore Watch Olivier's message
Asia Pacific and the South East Asia Youth Environmental Network

"I think the youth have a big role to play on the road to Copenhagen; our generation has a lot to contribute to the process of creating a more sustainable world; I think governments should really take them seriously."
Paulina Monforte Herrero, Mexico Watch Paulina and Caitlin message
Tunza Youth Advisor, Latin America and Caribbean

Contributing to Decision-making Processes

"UNEP has been amazing at making sure that Youth are a part of this process, and hearing our voice, which I am really looking forward to giving at the governing council meeting ; and working with my friends from around the world to make sure that we have a really strong voice on the international stage."
Noun Abdul Raman Alchemy, Bahrain Watch Noun's message
West Asia Youth Leader

"GC has provided us with a big opportunity to come together, to hear different view points, learn from each other and get inspired by the stories that other people tell. We are facing a global threat and what we see here is the need for people from different cultural backgrounds to be in that process and now you see that your own opinion is not always right."
Anne Walraven, Netherlands Watch Anne's message
Tunza Youth Advisor, Europe

Further Resources
Photogallery
25th Session of the UNEP Governing Council / Global Ministerial Environment Forum
UNEP Global Youth Gathering 2009
About TUNZA