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UNEP: Young Environmentalists Meet in Russia to Agree on Actions for a Better Planet

An elite group of young people will be converging on the Russian city of Dubna in August to share their passions for a greener, cleaner world and to draw up action plans for realising an environmentally-friendly future.

Time for Action: Your Planet Needs You!

Young Environmentalists from Across the Globe Meet in Russia to Agree on Actions for a Better Planet

Nairobi/Dubna, 11 June 2003 - An elite group of young people will be converging on the Russian city of Dubna in August to share their passions for a greener, cleaner world and to draw up action plans for realising an environmentally-friendly future.

The Tunza International Youth Conference will mark the next step in the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) growing campaign to enlist the enthusiasm, creativity and vision of young people to deliver a more sustainable and fairer world.

UNEP is urging young people from across the globe, eager to make a difference and keen to take action, to apply to be delegates at the Youth Conference  which is taking place between 25 and 27 August.

Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of UNEP, said: “ We are looking for dedicated, imaginative young people who share our vision that the environment is one of the keys to a better, more prosperous and healthier world. Our new youth and children’s’ strategy is called Tunza, the Swahili word meaning ‘to treat with care and affection’. We want to use young people to spread this philosophy from the Dubna conference, through concrete actions, to their homes, communities and countries all around the globe”.

He added that the influence of the young on the thinking of their peers and elders should not be underestimated. Mr Toepfer said that young people, especially in developed countries, can also influence the business and corporate worlds through their purchasing power.

“Young people have a critical role to play in shaping the environment and helping to deliver a less poverty-riven world now, and in the future. Young people are some of the biggest consumers of goods such as mobile phones, computers and other electronic equipment. So the consumption patterns of the young are crucial in our push to deliver sustainable development,” said Mr Toepfer.

He said the meeting in Russia did not come in isolation and should be seen as part of the global push for action to deliver the Plan of Implementation agreed by nations at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg last year.

“WSSD gave us a blue-print for reducing poverty in an environmentally-friendly way. It cannot be done without the participation of all walks of life including the globe's youth. They are also the future leaders of their families, communities and nations. I hope the conference will inspire them to take the torch of Johannesburg forward," said Mr Toepfer.

Boris Gromov, Governor of the Moscow Region which is helping to organize the conference, said:” Protection of the environment and rational use of natural resources is one of the priority fields of the Government of the Moscow Region. We consider the environment as the main component of sustainable development. In order to achieve results there is a real need to not only act every day, but to plan for the future by educating and training an environmentally sound, next, generation”.

The Tunza conference is one of the first outcomes of the UNEP Tunza strategy agreed by countries at the organization’s Governing Council in February this year. It will be followed up in July 2004 with the Tunza International Children’s Conference taking place in New London, Connecticut, United States.

Another youth conference is scheduled to take place during Expo 2005 in the Aichi Prefecture of Japan.

Other initiatives growing from the Tunza strategy include Plant for the Planet, an international tree planting project, that was launched in February in Kenya where UNEP is headquartered. The project, which will see a million seedlings planted across the country, is being extended to other countries over the coming months.

A new, modern, magazine called Tunza and aimed at young people was launched on World Environment day, 5 June.

The strategy also identifies the need for regional conferences, awareness campaigns, enhanced networking, educational alliances with sporting bodies such as Federation Internationale de Football (FIFA) and the International Olympic Committee, and an international award scheme for youth achievement.

The first regional, Tunza, event will take place in Sydney, Australia, between 14 July and 18 July this year under the banner Eco-Innovate. It is hoped that around four young people, ‘the young voices of Sydney’, will then attend the Dubna international conference.

In total, 150 young persons aged between 15 and 24 years-old, are expected to take part in the Russian conference.

Theo Oben, Head of UNEP’s Children and Youth Unit which is coordinating the Tunza strategy and the Dubna conference, said: “ We are today open for applications from prospective candidates for what promises to be one of the most important, thought-provoking, inspiring, constructive and action-orientated conferences for young people and the environment this year”.

“We will be unveiling a new book, Tunza: Action for a Better World. This is not so much a book as a blue-print or manual on how to carry out environmental, community-based projects, covering everything from setting up a recycling scheme, to lobbying local authorities and government for meaningful and long lasting environmental change. It also contains tips and advice from other young people who are already making a difference,’ he said.

“Other highlights at the conference will include workshops that guide young people on such issues as implementing, revenue-raising, environmental projects to handling the media to get a message across. The deadline for applications is 20 June and places are already being filled, “ said Mr Oben.

Notes to Editors
For details on how to apply please go to or contact your UNEP Regional Office at

For More Information Please Contact Eric Falt, UNEP Spokesman/Director of the Division of Communications and Public Information, on Tel: 254 2 623292, Mobile: 254 (0) 733 682656, E-mail:
or Nick Nuttall, UNEP Head of Media, on Tel: 254 2 623084, Mobile: 254 (0) 733 632755, E-mail: or Theo Oben, Head of UNEP’s Children and Youth Unit, on Tel: 254 2 623262, E-mail:

UNEP News Release

Wednesday 11 Jun 2003
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