64. The deterioration of the natural environment is one of the principal concerns of young people world wide as it has direct implications for their well-being both now and in the future. The natural environment must be maintained and preserved for both present and future generations. The causes of environmental degradation must be addressed. The environmentally friendly use of natural resources and environmentally sustainable economic growth will improve human life. Sustainable development has become a key element in the programmes of youth organizations throughout the world. While every segment of society is responsible for maintaining the environmental integrity of the community, young people have a special interest in maintaining a healthy environment because they will be the ones to inherit it.
Proposals for action
1. Integration of environmental education and training into education and training programmes
65. Emphasis should be given in school curricula to environmental education. Training programmes should be provided to inform teachers of the environmental aspects of their subject-matter and to enable them to educate youth concerning environmentally friendly habits.
66. The participation of youth groups in gathering environmental data and in understanding ecological systems and actual environmental action should be encouraged as a means of improving both their knowledge of the environment and their personal engagement in caring for the environment.
2. Facilitating the international dissemination of information on environmental issues to, and the use of environmentally sound technologies by, youth
67. The United Nations Environment Programme, in cooperation with Governments and non-governmental youth organizations, is invited to intensify production of information materials illustrating the global dimension, its origins and the interrelated effects of environmental degradation, describing the outcome of initiatives undertaken in developing and developed countries as well as countries with economies in transition. The United Nations Environment Programme is requested to continue its efforts to disseminate information to and exchange information with youth organizations. Governments should encourage and assist youth organizations to initiate and develop youth-to-youth contacts through town-twinning and similar programmes in order to share the experience gained in different countries.
68. Relevant United Nations organizations and institutions and Governments of technologically advanced countries are encouraged to help spread the use of environmentally sound technologies in developing countries and in countries with economies in transition and to train youth in making use of such technologies in protecting and conserving the environment.
3. Strengthening participation of youth in the protection, preservation and improvement of the environment
69. Governments and youth organizations should initiate programmes to promote participation in tree planting, forestry, combating desert creep, waste reduction, recycling and other sound environmental practices. The participation of young people and their organizations in such programmes can provide good training and encourage awareness and action. Waste management programmes may represent potential income-generating activities which provide opportunities for employment.
70. As recognized by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the involvement of youth in environment and development decisionmaking is critical to the implementation of policies of sustainable development. Young people should be involved in designing and implementing appropriate environmental policies.
4. Enhancing the role of the media as a tool for widespread dissemination of environmental issues to youth
71. Governments should, to the extent consistent with freedom of expression, encourage the media and advertising agencies to develop programmes to ensure widespread dissemination of information on environmental issues in order to continue to raise awareness thereof among youth.
72. Governments should establish procedures allowing for consultation and possible participation of youth of both genders in decision-making processes with regard to the environment, at the local, national and regional levels.
World Youth Report 2005
1. Youth and the environment
38. Recognizing that they will bear the consequences of current environmental policies, young people continue to have a strong interest in protecting and preserving the planet’s resources. As demonstrated through their contributions to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, young people are strong advocates for environmental preservation. Accordingly, the Plan of Implementation adopted at the Summit indicated the need to promote and support youth participation in programmes and activities relating to sustainable development. The mobilization and support of local youth organizations will be critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goal of ensuring environmental sustainability.
39. Throughout the Summit process, young people also advocated for renewed commitment to education for sustainable development. The General Assembly proclaimed the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development beginning 1 January 2005.18 The draft International Implementation Scheme sets out a broad framework for all partners, including youth, to contribute to the Decade. Environmental education has grown steadily in the last decade and is strengthened by several regional and national professional associations of environmental educators. Young people are increasingly disseminating information on environmental issues via their own channels.
40. The difficulty in achieving effective environmental education remains in translating environmental values into action of any kind, be it in terms of lifestyle adjustments or political action. This highlights the need for information on environmental issues to lead to functional and action-orientated outcomes. One such example is the clean up the world campaign that inspires more than 40 million volunteers in over 100 countries each year to take action to improve their local environment. These volunteers include millions of young people, and the campaign represents a practical way for youth to take responsibility for their immediate environment in a voluntary setting.
41. Youth continues to be involved in implementing environmental projects, and the experience they have gained qualifies them for increased participation in decision-making about environmental policies. Youth participation in the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development set the pace for participation by youth groups in other global conferences, culminating in their relatively high profile in the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Increasing the participation of youth in environmental protection depends on strengthening opportunities for young people to participate in the decision-making of government-supported organizations and NGOs.
18. See General Assembly resolution 57/254.