Reported by Prayash Raj Koirala
UNEP Tunza International Youth Conference 2013 was held at Nairobi, Kenya from 10th-14th February 2013. The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Health and Environment’. More than 300 participants from over 100 different countries attended the conference to share the experience, ideas and to discuss regarding the present and the future environmental agendas of the world.
First day of the conference was primarily focused on the theme of the conference i.e. ‘Health and Environment’. The plenary discussion regarding the impact of environment on health was facilitated by representatives from WHO, UNICEF, IFMSA and Environment & Health Youth Coalition. On the second day, the day of official inauguration of the conference, sessions were hosted under the theme – ‘Youth and the Global Environment’. Mr. Machim Stiener, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, made a remark that, ‘Through the TUNZA Conference, young people can deliver a clear message that, paradoxically, while time is running out, actions already underway across the globe hold the promise of delivering an inclusive Green Economy, green jobs and a sustainable century if accelerated and scaled-up.’
On the second day itself, a magazine prepared by the youth for the youth, namely ‘GEO-5 for Youth’, which extensively presents the current environmental scenario and the updates about the recent global environmental issues was launched. Also, the youth editors of GEO for Youth, launched the ‘OneOne’ campaign which encourages all to take atleast one initiative for one minute, one hour, one day or one month, or so on, for the environment.
The third day of the conference was focused under the ‘Rio+20 and the Post Development Agenda’. Similarly, the theme for fourth day was ‘Youth and Sustainable Consumption’ where a lot of the delegates raised questions regarding the proper interpretation of the term sustainable consumption in the developing nations and its feasibility. The second half of the day was followed by presentation of the interesting youth environmental projects by few of the delegates from different countries.
Likewise, the plenary session for the last day was about ‘Food Waste’. This session was related to the theme- ‘Think, Eat, Save’- which is the theme for the upcoming World Environment Day on 5th June 2013. Later on that day, finalization of the outcome and recommendation of the youths for UNEP and governments, to be presented at the Global Ministerial Forum being held from 18th to 22nd February 2013 at Nairobi itself, was made. Election of for the new set of Tunza Youth Advisory Council was also held and the new members of the council were selected on the day to represent various regions.
Tunza conference was successful in upraising the voice of youths. However, the major success of the conference will only be assured when various nations agree to address the demands and recommendations prepared by the youths and help the youths and the stakeholders dedicated to tackle the global environmental issues.