Johannesburg / Nairobi – 23rd November 2011: Concerned youth from across the African continent gathered this week in Johannesburg ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) that takes place in Durban, Kwa Zulu Natal from the 28th November.
Tunza – to treat with care or affection
The TUNZA – Generation Earth summit, jointly organised by UNEP’s Tunza Programme and the Generation Earth, with the official endorsement by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs. The conference is funded by BAYER, under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Partnership for Youth and Environment.
The Summit provides to these young people the opportunity to discuss, network and share ideas and project plans for sustainable development as part of the TUNZA Generation Earth Summit, Pre COP discussions.
The gathering of youth is the follow up to the very successful Inaugural Generation Earth Youth Summit on Climate Change, which took place at Thaba Ya Batswana last month. The Summit, which also accounts for the annual regional Tunza African Youth Environmental Network (AYEN) brings together 45 delegates including 25 regional participants as well as 20 South African delegates. Countries participating in these discussions include Kenya, Egypt, Uganda, Ethiopia, Togo, Rwanda, Niger, The DRC, Namibia, Zambia, Mauritania, Sudan and Cameroon, the Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar.
A launch pad for concerned youth
This Summit will also act as a launch pad for the youth movement to the road to RIO+20. It provided an opportunity to showcase Africa’s work on environmental conservation and highlight regional challenges.
The following outcomes are expected at the Summit:
- Develop a statement that would go through to the UNFCCC COP17 and beyond focusing on addressing climate change adaptation in and for Africa.
- Design a road map to RIO +20 for Africa Youth
- Set key follow-up actions to be undertaken as a result of the UNFCCC COP17 and in the lead up to Rio +20
Some of the issues to be discussed, include how the youth can influence policies that ensure that consumers are more carbon conscious; how a green economy works; best practices for renewable energy development; creating employment opportunities in the green industry and how to make worthwhile energy efficient choices as well as innovative energy ideas and programme development.
Africa continues to struggle
The Regional Director of UNEP in Africa, Mounkaila Goumandakoye said:
“The youth are at the heart of Africa’s present and future. They have inherited a continent that is environmentally responsive and economically promising and yet Africa’s strides on the sustainable development path may be more halting than steady. Unemployment remains rife and economic growth remains confined to a few scattered countries. Transition into sustainability requires a new way of thinking and living and we look up to the African youth gathering in Johannesburg to come up with creative solutions and bring their extraordinary energy and positive thinking into this process.”
By scheduling this conference on these dates, UNEP (ROA) together with Generation Earth, aim to ensure a greater participation of African youth to the COP17.
Generation Earth founder Ella Bella said:
“It is my goal for the youth to take up the challenge that Climate Change poses, engage, network and set the Earth’s rehabilitation in motion. The Summit has provided a platform of discussion, open forum to debate and interact on issues of Water, Energy, Biodiversity and African Climate Change and Climate adaptation issues.”
Following the Summit, a statement, along with recommendations will be presented at COP17 and the Conference of the Youth which takes place this weekend, ahead of the official opening of COP17.