June 25, 2014

TUNZA GLOBAL YOUTH GATHERING - A PRE UNITED NATION ENVIRONMENTAL ASSEMBLY



The environment has become fundamental in development and the world is meeting again at the United Nation Office in Nairobi for an environmental assembly. The assembly is the part of the Rio+20 outcomes.

The Rio+20 outcome document number 50 spell out the importance of youth and children involvement in sustainable development; the Major group of Children and Youth (MGCY) gathered together at a Pre United Nation Environmental Assembly (UNEA) from the 18th to 20 of June 2014 to frame a youth position paper which will be presented at the environmental assembly during the resolution meetings.

The UNEP director encouraged young people to come and join the rest of the world with their passion for environment but also to come with their brains as well: the youth need to affect policies by rubbing shoulder with policy makers at high level platforms like UNEA. Achim Steiner, the Executive director of United Nation Environmental Program informed the youth during the Global Youth Gathering at the UNON that those with the passion in environment need to consider the economic pillar which is one of the three pillars in sustainable development. State economies are very important and thus political economy shapes much of the decisions we make in the world. Today the world is still using billions to subsidize fossil fuel http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/sep/23/obama-g20-oil-subsidies Such economic issues must be approached not only with our passion for the environment but also with our minds. Achim Steiner encouraged the youth to study the actors who are there, their roles and their thinking in environmental governance. 

Kenya is a global south state which was introduced to green energy 6 years ago and she has done tremendously great as compared to other countries in the world. Kenya has Geo-thermal and one of the largest wind power energy. 
She has proven to the world that green economy is possible despite the fact that she is in the global south. It is time to bring all the groups together, whether you are G8 or G77, and talk about solutions. We have failed to bring solutions as a world but we have not failed to tell the world about climate change attention. Today, States should talk more about sustainability and environmental solutions collectively than foreign policy and national interests.


The young people are more brave than politicians, what they lack is a united network and capacity to change the world this brings the need to bring youth networks like TUNZA and African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC) to take part in decision making. TUNZA is not just another kid in UNEP’s block but a vibrant youth coming with solutions through action. The United Nation was started by “We the people.”  This statement spells the importance of the young people as they are the majority in the world’s population.

The youth have platforms like the social media to reach the world. They have a political advantage (numbers) to communicate to the world how they (youth) can bring solutions. The many youth networks like TUNZA and YOUNGO need to be part of the bigger network not work parallel to each other. Working with different institutions and networks will create a collaboration and collectivism. The Vatican city through the Pope leadership called political scientists to advise how the Catholic community should address environmental solutions. UNEP is not an Island but a spider in the web and the more interconnected the world is, the closer it is to justice. 

The two agendas in the environmental and sustainable development negotiations are behavior change and Technology. Behavior Change, social mobilization and public advocacy agenda are key issues when it comes to solving environmental and climate change problems. The young people can influence the behavior of their communities through social media by creating awareness. 

The youth involvement in Post-2015 and environmental Agenda is important because the world is moving towards Sustainable development Goals (SDGs) from Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Sustainability as an aspect of future gain and the young people are the future of the world. Making a better future requires the youth in decision making. Dambisa Moyo said the best time to plant a tree was 20years ago and the second best time to plant a tree is now. It is time to act now for a better future and the energy, passion and the brains of the young people is needed. The Global youth gathering came up with a statement paper which will be positioned during UNEA. Some of the issues in the position paper are Environmental Rule and Law, Post 2015/SDGs, Air Quality, Illegal trade of wildlife and timber, realizing Green Economy, Environmental Education and UN Accreditation review to allow more involvement youth organizations in UN decision making platforms. UNEA is the first assembly organized by UNEP, it was one of the decision made during Rio+20 conferences in Brazil and today the world will gather from the 23rd to 27th in the environmental capital to talk about sustainable development with 16 decisions on the table to be made. 

Compiled by Clifford Omondi Okwany
Edited by Victoria Chengo

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