Young People to Celebrate Sustainability on International Youth Day Commemoration at United Nations Headquarters, 12 August

Note No. 6212
11 August 2009

Young People to Celebrate Sustainability on International Youth Day Commemoration at United Nations Headquarters, 12 August

11 August 2009
Press Release
Note No. 6212
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Note to Correspondents




Initiatives to promote environmental, economic and social sustainability will be on display at United Nations Headquarters in New York when young people meet to celebrate International Youth Day on 12 August.

The Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) will host a public event where youth will share initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable living and development.  The two-hour event (10 a.m. to noon) will be held in Conference Room 2.

Under the theme “Sustainability:  Our Challenge.  Our Future”, the 2009 commemoration of International Youth Day gives young people around the world an opportunity to affirm their commitment, through local and practical activities, to be part of global sustainability efforts, which aim to ensure that meeting the world’s current needs does not compromise existing resources and jeopardize the ability of future generations to meet their own.

The New York event will feature students from the West Branch Middle School in Iowa ( United States), who won a countrywide “We Can Change the World Challenge”.  With the help of their teachers, the three students (aged 12-13 years) managed to raise awareness about the danger of lead wheel weights used to balance vehicle tyres.  When either fallen off cars and trucks or improperly discarded, wheel weights can be ground down by passing vehicles, and the particles are then dispersed by wind and rain, eventually finding their way into water supplies.  Through their awareness campaign, the students were able to convince people in their community and beyond eventually to take action to phase out the use of the harmful metal for this purpose.

Also on the programme will be a presentation by a representative from the youth network of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for North America, who will discuss their work in promoting student-led climate change and sustainable development activities in the United States and Canada.  These activities include getting students from the University of Rhode Island to go to the Rhode Island State House to express support for the Energy Independence and Climate Solutions Act, which mandates 80 per cent reductions in statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; and promoting official campus community gardens that include native and medicinal plant beds, fruit trees, and water catchment and compost systems.

Directions for Our Youth, a New York-based programme, will show how it uses creative expression to advocate that young people take on the challenge of sustainability.  Also attending the event will be representatives of the Discovery family and Planet Green/Treehugger, who will share some of their proposed initiatives for young people.

As part of the commemoration, selections from an international photo contest -- “Shoot Nations” -- were unveiled at Headquarters on 4 August.  Featuring 50 photographs from young people around the world, the exhibition illustrates the relation between gender and economic, environmental and social life.  The photographs also reveal many different reflections on the challenges young people face in the fight for sustainability.  The exhibition runs through 14 August.

For more information on the event, please contact Astrid Hurley, United Nations Programme on Youth, Tel:  +1 917 367 8009; Fax:  +1 212 963 0111; e-mail:

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.