TUNZA Youth Network
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) began its work with young people in 1985, which was designated International Youth Year. Since then, UNEP has developed several global and regional initiatives, activities and networks. It has organized regular conferences for young people and promoted environmental awareness through competitions, recognition programmes and partnerships with national, regional and international young people’s organizations.
In February 2003, the Governing Council of UNEP adopted a long-term strategy for engaging young people in environmental activities and in the work of UNEP. The strategy was entitled the Tunza Youth Strategy. The word “TUNZA” means “to treat with care or affection” in Kiswahili (a sub-regional language of Eastern Africa). The overall Tunza concept, therefore, is built around this theme. It is an initiative that is meant to develop activities in the areas of capacity building, environmental awareness, and information exchange, with a vision to foster a generation of environmentally conscious citizens, capable of positive action. Important by-products of this strategy include the annual Tunza International Youth Conference, Tunza Advisory Council and a quarterly Tunza magazine.
Under the overall Tunza concept, the second Tunza strategy is designed to increase the participation of young people in environmental issues. The strategy seeks to reach out to a sector of the world population that numbers over three billion (classified as persons aged under 25 years) and to promote a global movement through which children and young people worldwide will actively participate in environmental activities and use the power of their numbers to influence politicians, leaders and society to make environmental changes. It seeks to enhance, inspire and enable the involvement of children and young people in sustainable development, particularly in the six crosscutting thematic priorities identified by the medium-term strategy for the period 2010–2013: climate change; disasters and conflicts; ecosystem management; environmental governance; harmful substances and hazardous waste; and resource efficiency, sustainable consumption and production.
The vision of the Tunza Programme is to foster a generation of environmentally conscious leaders who will better influence environmental decision-making processes and act responsibly to promote sustainable development.
In order to implement this strategy UNEP’s main corporate partner is Bayer.
The North America Network
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recognizes education as a key part of understanding and mitigating climate change. In 2008, UNEP’s Regional Office for North America created its first ever Youth Network to empower and educate youth and the general public in the United States and Canada on ways to conserve resources.
In collaboration with UNEP, representatives of the North American Youth Network – referred to as Tunzana – play an active role in spreading this educational effort throughout the region. The word “TUNZA” means “to treat with care or affection” in Kiswahili (a sub-regional language of Eastern Africa,) while Tunzana stands for ‘Tunza North America.’ The Tunzana Network serves as a way to augment and highlight the environmental work that North American youth are doing in the region while also connecting them to UNEP and its global Tunza Network. The Network also allows North American youth to showcase their environmental work on a regional and international platform.
UNEP’s goal with Tunzana is to set in motion an ongoing effort by high school and university students to educate their communities about methods of conservation in a world where natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce. As the Network grows, representatives will create a self-sustaining network of youth leaders around the United States and Canada.
Fifteen (15) youth from around the U.S. and Canada have been selected for the 2011-2012 school year. Ten will represent the United States and five will represent Canada. These youth representatives will play a unique role in this Network, as they will be the eyes and ears to UNEP’s Regional Office for North America (UNEP RONA) on youth activities and initiatives in the region.