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Press Release

Next generation of green leaders meet at UNEP youth conference
26/ 07/ 2010

Next generation of green leaders meet at UNEP youth conferenceA select group of 17 young environmental leaders from the United States and Canada met at the University of California at Berkeley to take part in the Tunzana Youth Network Conference organised by UNEP's Regional Office for North America.

Washington, D.C./Berkeley, California, July 26, 2010 - Hip hop performances, an eco-friendly dance floor and dinner aboard a hybrid ferry were among the more unusual highlights of the Tunza North American (Tunzana) Youth Network Conference, held from July 23-25 in California.

The Tunzana Network, established in 2008, provides an opportunity for North American youth to showcase their environmental work on a regional and international platform, while also connecting them to UNEP and the global Tunza Network. This year, a select group of seventeen young environmental leaders from the United States and Canada met at the University of California at Berkeley to participate in the event, which was organised by UNEP's Regional Office for North America (UNEP RONA).


Set up in 2003, Tunza (meaning "to treat with care" in Swahili) is made up of networks of young environmentalists from across the world and is part of UNEP's long-term strategy for engaging young people in environmental activities. The project is designed to foster a generation of environmentally-conscious citizens and help channel their enthusiasm into positive action - even at the very highest level.

To this effect, one of the weekend's events included a presentation by Bonnie Nixon, founder of the CODE Green Agency, on how young people can work with governments and corporations on green issues.

"Engaging young people is crucial to tackling some of today's most pressing environmental issues, not only in our region but around the world. This conference represents a major step in solidifying UNEP RONA's youth outreach work," said Amy Fraenkel, Director of UNEP RONA.

The conference was facilitated by Darian Rodriguez Heyman, current chair of the UN's Green Tech Summit. Representing UNEP RONA was Elisabeth Guilbaud-Cox, the person responsible for bringing the Tunzana Network to fruition.

In addition to developing a strategy for the Network's activities in the coming two years, some of the conference's main highlights included:

A presentation by 350.org co-founder May Boeve on 'Using Social Networks to Organize Grassroots Campaigns'
A campus tour around UC Berkeley that showcased sustainable initiatives, as well as some of the school's major student-run environmental groups
A two-hour trip aboard the Hornblower Hybrid ferry, the United States' first hybrid ferry, which uses energy from solar, wind, grid electric, and Tier 2 diesel generators to power the vessel

"It's important to participate in conferences like this because when you engage in a group you feel like part of a family, a network of others who have the same passion and vision for a better world," said Marisol Becerra, one of Tunzana's youth network advisors.

The University of California at Berkeley served not only as a picturesque venue, but also as an example of an institution that employs progressive environmental and conservation initiatives.

Eleven young people from the United States and six from Canada took part in the three-day event. After the weekend's inspiring talks, trips and tours, as well as some invaluable networking, it's hoped that Tunzana's young members will return hope, ready to take action on the environment in their schools and communities.

For more information on the Tunzana Network, please contact:

Elisabeth Guilbaud-Cox, Senior Communications Officer, UNEP RONA
E-mail: elisabeth.guilbaud-cox@unep.org, Tel: 202-812-2100

Andrea DiPaolaCommunications Assistant, UNEP RONA
E-mail: andrea.dipaola@unep.org, Tel: 202-621-5037

Zakary Paget, UNEP RONA
E-mail: rona3@unep.org, Tel: 202-579-0037

For more information about the Tunza network please visit www.unep.org/Tunza

Further Resources
UNEP Tunza Youth Network