UNEP TUNZA Youth Website: UNEP’s Next Youth Strategy?


UNEP’s Next Youth Strategy?

Darian Rodriguez Heyman
Co-Founder & Advisor, BetterWorld Wireless (now Sparrow: Mobile for All)

As I spoke today on one of the final panels at the Sustainable Innovation Summit, with a focus on youth entrepreneurship, I relished in the great company and free flowing ideas, solutions, and tweets.  Of course, not everyone who wanted to join us in Paris could make it, and some folks missed the live webcast, so UNEP asked me to share a few of my comments about its potential future strategy for youth engagement via this short blog.

First off, it’s important to note that UNEP is only in the beginning of the process of reinventing its strategy in this arena.  The other thing to keep in mind is its mandate to make a truly unique contribution to the space, instead of duplicating the worthy efforts of its many partners and others empowering tomorrow’s climate champions.

In fact, UNEP Youth Advocacy Specialist Alix Masson is currently designing a survey that will provide young leaders with a direct opportunity to share their thoughts on how UNEP can best support youth passionate about sustainability.  But one idea that’s already gotten a lot of traction internally, and that I shared on today’s panel, is the notion of creating a front door to the sustainability movement.

The premise is that there are already lots of amazing organizations and resources out there, but what connects them all?  What if UNEP served as that “Gateway for Good,” offering youth a starting point for social impact and sustainable solutions?

Again, this is still very much subject to input from the global community, so nothing is set in stone and if UNEP does move forward with this initiative, no doubt it’d be done in partnership with a wide range of others, but the basic framework for the platform as it’s now envisioned is focused on four key components:

  • Learn: An organized research and resource directory where youth can educate themselves about a comprehensive range of sustainability topics and solutions;
  • Engage: A place where young leaders can find organizations and efforts to support in a variety of ways, based on their passions;
  • Grow: A resource and how-to library designed to help youth-led initiatives maximize impact; and
  • Connect: Introducing the leaders of tomorrow to likeminded peers so they can exchange ideas, contacts, and solutions directly.

If you think the Gateway for Good concept is something that would help you step into your leadership potential, take your efforts to the next level, or find worthy projects to support, and you want to learn more or share your thoughts, email Alix directly at Alix.Masson@unep.org and let her know!

About the Guest Blogger
Darian Rodriguez Heyman is a serial social entrepreneur with a passion for the green economy and “helping people help.” Heyman served as a Commissioner for the Environment for San Francisco, where he helped pass the largest solar rebate program in the country, is a frequent collaborator of UNEP, and worked at Sir Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room and Cradle to Cradle author Bill McDonough’s institute. He is the former Executive Director of Craigslist Foundation, a best selling nonprofit author, co-founder of the global Social Media for Nonprofits conference series, and most recently, co-founder of Sparrow: Mobile for All. He is currently finishing his next book, Nonprofit Fundraising 101 (Wiley), and working with the United Nations to produce an impact investing global summit at their NYC headquarters next year.


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