Children and Youth
In February 2003, the Governing Council of UNEP adopted a long-term strategy for engaging young people in environmental activities and in the work of UNEP. The strategy was entitled the Tunza Youth Strategy. The word “TUNZA” means “to treat with care or affection” in Kiswahili (a sub-regional language of Eastern Africa). The overall Tunza Concept, therefore, aims to create a global movement in which children and Youth will actively participate in sustainable development. The initiative is meant to develop activities in the areas of capacity building, environmental awareness, and information exchange, with a vision to foster a generation of environmentally conscious citizens, capable of positive action.
Important by-products of this strategy include the annual Tunza International Children and Youth Conference, Tunza Youth Advisory Council, Tunza Junior Board and a quarterly Tunza magazine.
Under the overall concept of Tunza, the 25th session of the Governing Council in February 2009 adopted the second long-term UNEP strategy for the engagement of young people in environmental issues.
In line with this strategy, UNEP Regional Office for Africa works with young people, both children and youth within the region through the Tunza African Youth Environment Network (AYEN) and the recently formed Tunza African Children’s Environment Network (ACEN).
UNEP ROA aims to produce stronger, cohesive and sustainable children and youth networks within Africa in order to not only better engage young people in fulfilling its mission, but also help them build each others capacity in environmental conservation and be better prepared for the future.
Specific objectives include to:
- Build the capacity of young people in matters of environmental conservation focusing on issues related to Climate Change;
- Provide young people with a forum for exchange of ideas and experience thus enhancing inter- country cooperation;
- Facilitate youth participation in national, regional and international environmental fora whenever possible;
- Encourage young people’s involvement in key decision making International environmental fora such as the, African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Convention on the Biological Diversity;
- Raise the visibility of environmental conservation through environmental awareness campaigns using media, sport, art and other cultural activities targeting young people from across the region.
By supporting and aligning their myriad efforts and synergies in the region –through policy advocacy, action campaigns, clean energy projects, outreach, science, communication, arts and culture, sustainable consumption, Young environmentalists have clearly showed that UNEP ROA would unleash a powerful force acting on a noble cause; an entire generation mobilized for a healthier climate and a sustainable future for Africa.
At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro , the nations of the world committed themselves to the goal of sustainable development . This was spelled out which laid out goals across a range of resource, environment, and development issues. Civil society organizations (CSOs) played a vital role in the success of the Earth Summit, and continue to be key players in working towards environmental sustainability, for example in the development and implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
UNEP has recognized the importance of civil society in environmental sustainability and is actively working to ensure that CSOs are able to play a constructive role in the formulation and implementation of policy and programmes for sustainable development. Through a series of ministerial Declarations and Governing Council's Resolutions and the strategy paper, 'Enhancing Civil Society Engagement in the Work of the United Nations Environment Programme' (UNEP/GC.22/INF/13, presented to the Governing Council in February 2003), UNEP has committed to strengthening the active engagement and participation of civil society in its work.
UNEP's civil society strategy recognizes the role of the Regional Offices as the 'front line' in fostering programmatic engagement and conducting dialogue with civil society.