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United Nations Environment Programme's new global youth and children strategy to kick off in Sydney

Sydney, Bangkok, Nairobi, March 12, 2002 – Sydney, Australia will host the first event of the United Nations Environment Programme’s new global strategy for children and youth, approved last month by environment ministers and high level delegations from 130 countries.

The Eco-Innovate 03 Forum, initiated by Bayer, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), will take place at UNSW from July 14 to 18, 2003.

The four-day programme, to involve high-profile speakers, discussion forums, hands-on design sessions, and mentoring by business and technology leaders, will attract more than 100 young people aged 15-23 from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, The Philippines, China and India.

The forum is part of UNEP’s new TUNZA – meaning “to treat with care and affection” in the East African Kiswahili language – strategy, designed to enhance the ability of young people to take action and influence decision makers for a sustainable world.

The strategy, approved by UNEP’s Governing Council in Nairobi, Kenya in February, identifies the need for global and 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.

UNEP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Mr Surendra Shrestha, who attended the launch of the Eco Innovate 03 Forum in Sydney today, said the strategy recognized that 47 percent or 2.9 billion of the world’s population are below the age of 25 years. The majority of them (87 percent or 2.5 billion) live in developing countries, where access to environmental information is still limited.

Mr Shrestha said, “We also know that 15 per cent of the world’s population accounts for 56 per cent of consumption and if everybody lived like they do we would need 2.6 additional planets to support us all.”

“Our assessments of the state of the environment suggest we will need to innovate a transformation to sustainable production and consumption patterns in the space of just one generation,” he said.

Eco-Innovate 03 will draw on UNEP’s global environmental perspective, the eco-efficiency and eco-design expertise of the UNSW’s Faculty of the Built Environment, and Bayer’s long-standing involvement in youth education in the region.

UNEP has worked with young people since the International Youth Year of 1985, providing environmental information to networks of youth in more than 180 countries. Last year it received more than 15,000 email queries from young people, 30 percent of them from developing countries.

The new strategy consolidates all UNEP’s activities for children and youth into a unified global network, and sets up a multimillion-dollar trust fund for contributions by Governments and the private sector.

Mr Shrestha met today with the youth leaders planning for Eco-Innovate 03, as well as Sydney-based participants in UNEP’s recent Global Youth Retreat and the UNEP Young Environmental Envoy Programme hosted by the University of Wollongong since 1985, to discuss long-term development of youth networks and programmes in the Asia-Pacific region.

END

Information and application materials for the Eco Innovate 03 Forum are available from http://www.eco-innovate.net

For further information contact Tim Higham, UNEP Regional Information Officer, Bangkok, phone +66 2 2882127, mobile +66 9 1283893, email higham@un.org.

UNEP Information Note 2003/04