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Environment and Poverty: Outcomes from the Fourth Global Civil Society Forum, Kenya

Statement of the third UNEP Global Youth Retreat to the 22nd Session of the UNEP Governing Council
"Now and for the Future, Youth Action for Sustainable Development"
The theme for International Youth Day 2002, highlighted the increasingly important role that youth can, must and will play in ensuring a more sustainable world. We are full of ideas, energy and passion for the environment that we have utilized for positive action in our communities. Youth as a group is vulnerable to the degradation of Mother Earth - and yet we are important agents for change.

On this occasion of the 22nd UNEP Governing Council it is time for you to recognize us as full and respected partners in sustainability.

Youth participation

Youth are actively participating for a more sustainable world but are hindered by the lack of resources and funding. Governments should work towards building youth capacities by guaranteeing full youth participation of all national delegations, the Commission on Sustainable Development and the General Assembly. Notwithstanding the aforementioned, we submit that governments by this process can take advantage of the knowledge and experience of youth.

We request that governments implement the UNEP Long-term Strategy on Engagement and Involvement of Young People in Environmental Issues (UNEP/GC.22/3/Add.1/Rev.1). Foremost in this regard is to provide requested funding for the Tunza Trust Fund, which includes funding for national youth networks and councils, youth interns and junior professional officers at UNEP.

Furthermore, we request governments to increase the support both technically and financially to grassroots initiatives. We feel youth driven educational programmes are one of the most important initiatives that deserve recognition from governments.

To set an example in transparency; we plan to be accountable for the support we receive by developing evaluation mechanisms, from initial project development to final reporting.

We urge governments to adopt and implement a 10-year framework of programmes to reverse unsustainable consumption and production patterns as called for in the 3rd chapter of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. We commit to awareness raising campaigns for lifestyle changes at a community level and request governments to implement economic instruments to further encourage sustainable consumption. We support the UNEP YouthXChange programme as an excellent example of work in this field.

We request governments to mandate UNEP to develop an internationally binding framework for corporate responsibility and accountability including legally binding standards for the environment, human rights and labor. This is in accordance with paragraph 45.ter of the World Summit on Sustainable Development's Plan of Implementation.

Poverty and the Environment

Another significant issue addressed at the Johannesburg Summit was the link between the environment and poverty. As more than 1 billion people cannot provide for their basic needs, effective strategies to eradicate poverty are urgently needed. In line with this, we recommend two major steps to be undertaken:

  • First, cancel the debts of Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and least developed countries by 2015 to help eradicate poverty.

  • Second, promote equal access of products and services from poor countries to the global market place, ensuring that trade meets environmental and human rights agreements. One positive step in this direction has come from certain developed countries that eliminated tariffs and quotas on almost all products from least developed countries.

We call for the immediate commitment of governments to the New Partnership for Africa's Development and furthermore, the establishment of a youth unit at the NEPAD secretariat to actively incorporate youth in policy and decision making.

Environment and War

In relation to conflicts and the occupation of territories and countries, we propose that governments take concrete and measurable action to prevent environmental damage by creating and implementing relevant legislation in the framework of International Law.


Now and for the future; youth for sustainable development; We commit to working towards a sustainable future, but will you help us achieve it now?

Participants of the 2003 UNEP Global Youth Retreat

Nairobi, Kenya

3 February 2003

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