Tunza Youth Advisory Council and Environmental Youth Leaders Meet to Bring Young Voices to First-Ever UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) Sat, Jun 21, 2014

Nairobi, 21 June 2014 - Renewable energy, biodiversity, employment and youth empowerment were among the major topics raised during the recent Global Youth Gathering, part of the Global Civil Society Forum that will feed into the inaugural UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) next week in Nairobi.

The sixth Global Youth Gathering brought together the Tunza Youth Advisory Council and environmental youth leaders from around the world. Representatives discussed their top priorities related to sustainable development, which flowed from a series of consultations at the regional level.

The Gathering also provided young people with opportunities to meet with UNEP staff to discuss environmental issues, and to provide input to the revision of UNEP's third long-term youth engagement strategy, to be launched in 2015.

"The discussions around UNEA are all about sustainable development," said Stefan Knight, 23, a global youth representative to UNEA and member of the Tunza Youth Advisory Council. "It is about ensuring the survival of not only the present but future generations. If only adults discuss these matters, there will be a critical gap, because one day it will be us who will take over."

Stefan, who was raised in Guyana and now resides in Barbados, said that as a representative from the Caribbean region, one of his main priorities is climate change.

"I'm from a Small Island Developing State, and I've witnessed climate change first-hand. I've seen hurricanes that pass through our region, destroying property that people invest so much in," he said.

Tom Akampa Israel, also 23, represented the African region in the Gathering's deliberations. He said that many of the discussions among youth in his native Uganda and in the African region as a whole had to do with the empowerment of young people.

"Some of the issues that were raised in our region included youth participation in decision-making processes and the challenge of unemployment," he said. "In addition, we are concerned about capacity building. If we are given the chance and support to carry out some of these activities [that were discussed], we will have much to bring to the table."

Youth as a vital constituency are already involved in many micro-activities in their communities, which can encourage the transition to a Green Economy. Such activities were a major topic of discussion at the Gathering.

In addition, during all-night deliberations, representatives developed a draft Youth Statement to be presented at UNEA on the youth perspective and involvement in the post-2015 development agenda.

Additional Information

For more information on UNEP's Children and Youth initiative, Tunza, visit http://www.unep.org/tunza/

About the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA)

UNEA is the highest-level UN body ever convened on the environment. It feeds directly into the General Assembly and enjoys universal membership of all 193 UN member states as well as other stakeholder groups. With this wide reach into the legislative, financial and development arenas, the new body presents a ground-breaking platform for leadership on global environmental policy. UNEA boasts over 1200 participants, 170 national delegations, 80 ministers and 40 events during the five-day event from 23 to 27 June 2014 at UNEP's HQ in Nairobi, Kenya.

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