We live in a world of 7 billion inhabitants. 7 billion dreams to fulfil. 7 billion lives to sustain. Any further increase in average temperature risks the end of global civilization. Do we want to be remembered as the biggest oil-burners or as a generation that solved the greatest man-made challenge in recent history: the climate change? It is time for the seven billion to act. The seven billion small steps taken now will be the next giant leap for mankind. During my experience working with the NGO Tarumitra (“friends of trees”), UNEP-TUNZA and Plant-for-the-Planet, I learned about what can be done to best influence our enviornemnt.
Tarumitra is a non-government organization that works with over 1,700 high schools in India. Tarumitra’s headquarters houses a bio-reserve of more than 525 endangered plant species and also hosts student exchange programs. While at Tarumitra, I participated in activities, such as tree-planting, conducting green parliaments for youth and children, studying the Ganges river and conducting marches to raise awareness.
My eight years with UNEP-TUNZA has shaped the person I am today (Tunza is the children and youth program of the United Nations Environment Programme). I treated Tunza as a great success that paved the way for millions of young environmentalists and continues to provide a venue to interact, and simultaneously raise voices of concern to decision makers. It has been a privilege to have organised and attended the UNEP-TUNZA International Children and Youth conferences in South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and the Global Youth Gathering in Nairobi. Some noteworthy benchmark initiatives included "Seal the Deal!" campaign, the Tunza children’s painting competitions, the COP 10 Nagoya declaration, and Plant-for-the-Planet.
In Plant-for-the-Planet, we mobilise youth across the world by conducting educational workshops. These workshops, or Academies as they are called, have resulted in thirty-thousand Climate Justice Ambassadors representing over 100 countries. One of the results has been the planting of more than 14 billion trees. Originally founded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Billion Tree Campaign was handed over to the student initiative Plant-for-the-Planet in 2012. In May 2015, Plant-for-the-Planet organised a Youth Summit in Tutzing, Germany. Youth from 23 countries participated, framing a youth manifesto for G7 leaders - calling on the G7 to support the greatest afforestation project in the history of humankind. Some youth from the summit initiated the “Climate Strike” which is to take place on 30 November 2015 - the same day the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) begins. For one day, we ask the young generation of the world to devote their day for environmental activities!
After witnessing the decision-making processes at UNEP-TUNZA and sessions of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi - I’ve learned that this world and its peoples, economies, and environment are all intricately connected. To understand this complex system and its challenges, we need to better educate ourselves on these issues. As the years progress, more and more young people will understand the seriousness of the challenges posed by climate change. It is important to strive for greater collaboration or risk inter-generational conflict.
Today, the key environmental issues we need to address include energy consumption, biodiversity, and global decision-making. We have to make lifestyle changes, lower emissions from household usage, create green and inclusive markets, and gradually shift to a carbon neutral economy. Furthermore, we lose untapped information about living species every year. Creating bio-reserves and stricter implementation of laws against poaching are some ways we can tackle this issue.
It is time now to break the norms and speak up. Environmental issues such as climate change do not recognize political and geographic boundaries, and neither should the solutions. As the United Nations celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, let us work together on the post-2015 development agenda. The climate clock is ticking.
About the Author:
Yugratna Srivastava, age 19, is an undergraduate student of Electronics and Communications Engineering at Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad. She serves in the Global Board of Plant-for-the-Planet and is also a member of UNEP-TUNZA. She is the youngest person to address Heads of State at the United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York in 2009 and holds two TED talks to her credit.
The Building Bridges team is in Namibia, the penultimate country on their trip from Amsterdam to Cape Town. The past months they have talked to thousands of youngsters about their priorities for the world they want. Their journey will end on 12 August 2015, International Youth Day. Follow Dutch Youth Delegate to the UN, Jilt van Schayik, and Teun Meulepas as they connect with young people on the grassroots level.
Members of the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD) came together on 15 July 2015 to commemorate the first ever World Youth Skills Day. The Permanent Missions of Portugal and Sri Lanka, together with the ILO, UNESCO and OSGEY organized an event entitled "Youth Skills in the Post-2015 Development Agenda" in UN Headquarters focusing on the importance of partnerships and cooperation for youth skills development.
UN Entities Highlighted News
ILO Fund for Evaluation in Employment 2015 - Call for proposals
Researchers and M&E Officers from the Middle East and North Africa are invited to submit applications to receive technical assistance and financial support of up to US $650,000 for the evaluation of youth employment programmes. The Fund for Evaluation in Employment is an initiative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) aimed at improving the effectiveness of employment and enterprise development interventions. Through this call for proposals in 2015, the Fund offers technical assistance and seed funding to project implementers and researchers for impact evaluations and results-based monitoring and evaluation systems.
ILO: Boosting Youth Employment through Public Works (29-30 June 2015, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
On 29-30 June 2015, the International Labour Organization (ILO) convened a regional meeting for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to facilitate knowledge exchange on “What Works in Youth Employment” and how to boost opportunities for youth through public works programmes. The meeting brought together ILO's tripartite constituents, partners from ministries of agriculture, finance, planning and economic development, youth representatives and fellow development partners. The discussions led to a better understanding of the key components of public works programmes that ensure improved labour market outcomes for youth. More
#YouthDay campaign for International Youth Day 2015
The Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, led by the co-chairs, UNDESA and UNDP, is running an online campaign in the lead up to International Youth Day on 12 August 2015. The campaign will provide a forum for young people to share their stories and ideas on civic engagement activities. Young people can share their message by submitting a photograph that relates to the theme to email@example.com, by tweeting ideas and opinions using #YouthDay, or by organizing an International Youth Day Event. Learn more on how to participate here.
Registration is Open for International Youth Day Event on 12 August 2015!
Join us at UN Headquarters on 12 August 2015 to commemorate International Youth Day under the theme Youth Civic Engagement. The event will take place in the ECOSOC chamber from 10am to 1pm and will consist of two inter-active panels showcasing inspiring ways in which young people engage in civic, political and social spheres and will explore how the issue of youth civic engagement is an enabler for an enhanced and inclusive participation of young women and men in decision-making and public life. Deadline for registration is 4 August 2015, 12:00pm EST.
New UN-Habitat Award for Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship launched
UN-Habitat and partner organizations in China have jointly launched a biennial Youth Innovation Awards Programme. The 5 Award categories are Youth Leadership, Green Inventions and Innovations, Urban Ecological Safety, Youth Entrepreneurship, and Social and Cultural Innovations. This initiative aims to attract, support and inspire some of the most innovative, high-impact young innovators and entrepreneurs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Deadline for submission of entries is 31 July 2015. Please visit here for more information or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ESCAP: North-East Asia Forum on Youth Volunteerism to Promote Participation, Development and Peace
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Government of Mongolia, the Mongolian Network of Volunteer Organizations, the Global Peace Foundation and the Global Young Leaders Academy, convened the aforementioned Forum to promote the Asia-Pacific Peace and Development Service Alliance, on 26 June 2015, in Ulaanbaatar. Present were over 200 participants from 11 countries, who focused on strengthening the contribution of youth engagement and volunteerism to enhance development and peace, and finding ways for youth to address challenges as part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. More
UNFPA/LACRO: Placing Youth at the center of the political commitment with the SDGs
The Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Office of UNFPA and the Ibero-American Youth Organization (OIJ) with support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECID), and Colombia Joven’s Youth System, along with participants from 11 countries from the region, held the Second Meeting for Development and Social Investment on Youth, which took place earlier this month in Cartagena, Colombia, with the objective to develop national advocacy plans regarding the strengthening of youth issues in the political commitment and in the indicators of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. More
UNDP Latin America and the Caribbean : The Ibero-American Programme on Youth, IberJóvenes, launched in Lisbon! (25 June 2015, Lisbon, Portugal)
Eleven countries have launched a regional programme to promote youth inclusion and effective participation among traditionally marginalized groups during 2015-2017. The joint programme is led by the Ibero-American Organization of Youth (OIJ), the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) and UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean. Initiatives will focus on youth empowerment, youth inclusive participation, funding and technical support on social innovation targeting young Afro-descendants, LGTBI, young indigenous and rural populations, and young women from the Ibero-American region. More
UN-PBSO: Global Forum on Youth, Peace and Security
The Global Forum on Youth, Peace and Security is only one month away! The Forum will be attended by over 200 youth peacebuilders, as well as Member States, UN agencies, NGOs and more. The Forum will shine a spotlight on young people’s peacebuilding achievements, and is envisaged as a turning point towards a new international agenda on youth, peace and security. It will be hosted in Amman by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan from August 21st-22nd. Add your voice to the draft Amman Declaration here, and go to youth4peace.info or tweet using #youth4peace to get involved!
UNEP at the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was a guest speaker at George Mason University during the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment, from June 28 - July 3, 2015. During the week 300 academically gifted high school students from across the United States with a passion for environmental science, engineering, policy and conservation, and who are the next generation of environmental leaders. Ms. Carla Friedrich, UNEP Programme Officer, spoke about the work of the Regional Office of North America to protect freshwater and marine ecosystems. More
UNAOC: Entrepreneurs for Social Change: Apply Now!
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) launched the third edition of Entrepreneurs for Social Change, a one-year program supporting young entrepreneurs in the Euro-Med region. The program offers a one-week intensive training followed by a 9-month online mentoring to approach potential investors, strengthen their business plans, and test their social impact. The 2015 edition of the program starts with a training, held from 18 to 25 October 2015 in Torino, Italy. To apply, visit www.e4sc.org. Deadline for applications is 30 July 2015, 11:59 pm, New York time.
The Intercultural Innovation Award, a partnership between the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the BMW Group, searches for innovative and sustainable projects around the world that encourages dialogue and cooperation among people from different cultural backgrounds. Ten organizations with potential for expansion and replication will be awarded funding and strategic support. Awardees will be announced at the 7th UNAOC Global Forum (click here for highlights of last year’s ceremony). Deadline for applications is 30 September 2015, 5pm EST.
UN-Habitat at East Africa Cup 2015
UN-Habitat is proud and delighted to join the East Africa Cup family. This year was the first time UN-Habitat was present at this biggest sport for development event in Africa and we couldn’t be more thrilled about the experience. As part of our newly developed Urban Sport Programme, we organized and ran daily workshops on Youth & Urbanization with special focus on sports infrastructure and facilities. To learn more about our time in Tanzania, visit here.
UNDP Sri Lanka: Youth leadership development at community level
The Youth Leadership Development (YLD) Programme is designed by UNDP Sri Lanka to empower youth from vulnerable communities. The Programme aims to train youth to be representatives capable of decision-making, equipping them with the abilities required to lead and support project development and implementation in their own communities. The YLD programme under the Governance for Local Economic Development Programme targets 840 youth from 10 districts and consists of a study course delivered by identified universities in the respective geographic areas.
WFUNA Youth Network: supporting the UN through the engagement of global citizens
The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) Youth Network is an informal network that brings together United Nations Associations (UNAs) Youth Sections and United Nations Youth Associations (UNYAs) from all over the world to build support for the United Nations and the values it represents. Many UNAs Youth Sections and UNYAs are doing brilliant activities, which we showcase in our blog. During May we focused on Europe. UNA and UNYA youths from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden tell us what they have been up to.
UNDP Sri Lanka: Print Media Partnership and UNLOCKED Offline
The Unlocked blog, initiated to give youth in Sri Lanka the opportunity to voice their opinions on development issues, partnered with Daily FT (a daily English newspaper) to give a space in print media to young voices. Now Unlocked blogs will be trilingual and also appear on national print media! Moving beyond Unlocked blogs and reaching out to a bigger audience: ‘Unlocked Offline’, a #YouthNDev meet-up, was launched to provide a space for youth to engage with other like-minded youth and thought leaders. More
IANYD: Youth-SWAP Pilot Survey
Further to the participatory development of a System-wide Action Plan (Youth-SWAP) to enhance the coherence and synergy of UN activities in areas related to youth, the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD) developed the first-ever Youth-SWAP Monitoring and Evaluation Framework and an online survey tool to centralize the Youth-SWAP data collection. The IANYD co-chairs, UNDESA and UNDP, are currently piloting a test of the online survey tool and of the 15 Employment-related indicators with all IANYD members and 8 voluntary United Nations Country Teams: Barbados, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cape Verde, Jordan, Sri Lanka, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.The pilot Test Report on Employment will be made available in the third quarter of 2015. More
Youth in Action
Time for Rights – join our global video event for human rights
Time for Rights is creating a global video event about human rights. At 12:15pm on International Youth Day, 12th August 2015, young people will record and upload short videos to tell the world about the human right they care most about. They’ll contribute knowing that others do so at exactly the same time, as an act of solidarity. The videos will be posted on Instagram. We will also draw upon them to create a powerful online video mosaic. Join us!
Inter-Parliamentary Union: World’s young Members of Parliament (MPs) tackle global socio-economic crisis
Nearly 190 young MPs from around the world gathered in Tokyo in May for a major international conference addressing youth issues. The youth-led event, organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and National Diet of Japan, proposed radical solutions to lessen the impact of the global socio-economic crisis on youth, harness their power as peace-makers and reduce the risk of radicalization. By bringing together young decision-makers, the IPU enables a powerful youth voice to help shape international policy and drive national debate. More
United Nations Youth Association Ghana: United Nations in schools and villages
The work of the United Nations can be enhanced through youth participation. The one hundred and ninety three member states around the globe can pass a resolution in which UN can become a true people’s movement. The founding principles of the UN Charter should be instilled at all levels of education. Various youth needs to be brought together in order feel empowered and to campaign against corruption, drug abuse, violence and social vices. More
United Nations Youth Association Ghana: Educating youth through psychomotor development
Training youth both theory and execution of those ideas provides total development and ensures youth participation in economic growth and national development. Psychomotor development taps into creative abilities of our youth and ensures sensible use of natural resources. It also provides societal needs, such as combating youth unemployment. This calls on government to package educational structures in a way that properly combines skill development and traditional academics in order to further economic empowerment and reach transformational targets. More
ILO Manual on Skills Testing and Certification in Jordan
The International Labour Organization (ILO) has provided technical support to the Centre of Accreditation and Quality Assurance (CAQA) in Jordan to help implement its mandate through the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) and the SIDA-funded project Tripartite Action for Youth Employment in Jordan. Under this project, the ILO and CAQA have established a framework of minimum requirements for skills testing and certification, which is presented in this manual.
UN-Habitat Report: Youth-Led Economic Empowerment. Lessons from the Youth Fund.
The report presents findings on the impacts of the Urban Youth Fund projects on youth-led grantees and end-youth beneficiaries, as well as on the communities in which the projects were implemented. In contrast to previous Global Youth-Led Development reports, this report focuses on youth-led entrepreneurship and employment creation projects—projects funded to enhance youth livelihood and economic opportunities—between 2009 and 2012. The report uses evidence from good and promising projects in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean to assess the meaning and power of youth-led economic empowerment through the eyes of the Urban Youth Fund.
UN-Habitat Report: Progress and Sustainability in Youth-Led Development. A Baseline and Follow-Up Study of the Youth Fund.
The report presents results from several, related studies on the youth-led organizations in Africa and the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia and the Pacific that received Urban Youth Fund (UYF) grants between 2009 and 2011. It also compares their experience in implementing youth programs with comparable youth organizations that were not funded by the Urban Youth Fund (UYF). Through a baseline study and a follow-up study conducted two years later, it is able to examine the experience of the selected youth-led organizations over multiple years. The report looks at their programs and how they operate; the challenges they face; the strategies they develop to meet those challenges; their hopes and plans for the future; and the benefits they accomplish for youth, their youth organizations, and the larger community.
UN-Habitat Report: Advancing Economic Citizenship for Children and Youth in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The report is a joint publication by Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI) and UN-Habitat and examines youth economic citizenship in Sub-Saharan Africa. The report provides an overview of the concept of economic citizenship, explains how it is relevant to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and provides research findings on its application in the region. Detailed case studies are provided on financial literacy and financial education initiatives for children and youth in Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.