The Tunza International Children and Youth Conference on Climate Change took place in Daejeon, Republic of Korea, 17-23 August 2009. The conference organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in cooperation with the UNEP National Committee for the Republic of Korea had “Climate Change: Our Challenge” as its theme. Participants pledged to plow ahead with efforts to ensure that global warming remains an international priority, with just over three months remaining until negotiations on a possible new pact end in Copenhagen, Denmark.
This was the largest-ever youth climate change conference, bringing together around 800 young people from all over the world. Participants at the conference were selected from thousands of applicants based on their outstanding ‘green’ achievements in their respective countries, illustrating strides made by the next generation to address the serious threat of global warming. Projects included a drive to distribute hundreds of low-energy light bulbs in Nepal, a carpooling scheme in Samoa, a recycling drive in Sierra Leone and efforts to clean up rivers in Russia.
The Conference is part of the Seal the Deal! Campaign, which was launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in April 2009. According to the UN Secretary-General "This global Youth and Children gathering under the Seal the Deal! Campaign is the largest international gathering of young people this year advocating for climate change action. Their voices will and must be heard because they will inherit the outcomes of our actions." The Conference consisted of a Seal the Deal! Global Townhall Meeting, a Seal the Deal! Global Debate, a Children’s Conference and a Youth Conference.
During the week-long Youth Conference, young people agreed on regional action plans including actions such as outreach, youth mobilization and education for Copenhagen, social networking, campaigning and tree planting.
An important outcome of the Conference was the statement entitled ’Listen to Our Voices: The Future Needs Strong Vision and Leadership’ to world leaders. Finalized at a Global Town Hall Meeting on 20 August in Daejeon, in this statement young people (representing 3 billion of the world population) express concern that “governments are not doing enough to combat climate change” . Climate Change has “serious consequences not only for ecosystems, but also for human health, job security and social development”. The statement calls for “more actions and less talking”, listing action points for governments and citizens to find efficient ways to cope with, adapt to, and take action to stop climate change. To access the statement please click here.
Finally, Youth Advisors were chosen for the Tunza Youth Advisory Council, representing the six regions and indigenous groups. The Council will advise UNEP on how to engage young people in its work and in international environmental negotiations
For more information on the Tunza International Children and Youth Conference on Climate Change, click here.
The Tunza Conference is part of UNEP’s Tunza Youth Strategy, which was adopted in February 2009 by UNEP’s Governing Council as a means to engage young people in environmental activities and in the work of UNEP and to raise awareness and exchange information on the environment among children and youth. More information is available online.
This article is available in Spanish.