Sustainability and Rio+20 at Forefront of United Nations North American Youth Network
Fifteen (15) young environmental leaders, between the ages of 18 and 24 from the United States and Canada, will meet at the University of California at Berkeley on 11-12 August 2011 to participate in the third Tunza North America (Tunzana) Youth Network Conference. Tunza, the name of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) children and youth program, is a Swahili word meaning to treat with care and affection.
The Tunzana Network, established in 2008 by UNEP’s Regional Office for North America (RONA), 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 its global Tunza Network. In support of UNEP’s mandate, these youth raise environmental awareness and take action in their school and their communities.
“Engaging young people on sustainability is key in addressing today’s environmental challenges, particularly prior to next year’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (or Rio+20). We look forward to learning from this committed group of young people what messages they would like to send to the world’s leaders at Rio+20”, said Amy Fraenkel, Director of UNEP RONA.
Representing UNEP at the conference will be Elisabeth Guilbaud-Cox, UNEP RONA’s Head of Communications and the person responsible for initiating the Tunzana Network. The conference will be facilitated by Darian Rodriguez Heyman, founder of Code Green Agency and a well-known figure in both corporate and philanthropic circles.
In addition to developing a strategy for the Network’s activities in the coming year, the conference program will include:
- Workshops on fundraising, leadership, event programming and social media;
- The election of two representatives who will represent North America at UNEP’s International Children and Youth Conference in Bandung, Indonesia in September 2011, at UNEP’s Governing Council in Nairobi, Kenya in February 2012, and at Rio+20 in Brazil in June 2012;
- The preparation of a statement on their environmental concerns to be presented at the three afore-mentioned meetings.
The two-day event, which will include 10 youth from the United States and five from Canada, will provide the participants with a better understanding of what UNEP does, improve their ability and capacity to raise environmental awareness and action in their communities and serve as an opportunity to share experiences and learn from each other.