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 programs and partnerships with national, regional and international young people’s organizations.

Children and Youth – TUNZA

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, aims to create a global movement in which children and Youth will actively participate in sustainable development. The initiative 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.

Part of this strategy include the annual Tunza International Children and Youth Conference, Tunza Youth Advisory Council, Tunza Junior Board and a quarterly Tunza magazine.
Under the overall concept of Tunza, the 25th session of the Governing Council in February 2009 adopted the second long-term UNEP strategy for the engagement of young people in environmental issues.

The second strategy was developed in line with the recommendations from the midterm independent evaluation of the first strategy released in 2006, in addition to the expression of interest by a number of Governments at the ninth special session of the ouncil/Forum, held in Dubai in February 2006, during the discussions of the mid-term review.  The strategy  received inputs from children and young people’s focal points in UNEP divisions and regional offices, partner children and young people’s organizations, the Tunza Youth Advisory Council and the Tunza Junior Board, participants in the 2008 Tunza International Children’s Conference (Stavanger, Norway) and from children and young people and their organizations. It was structured and aligned to the six cross-cutting priorities as identified in the medium-term strategy for the period 2010–2013.

EET: Environmental Education and Training

Environmental Education and Training (EET) promotes attitudes and value systems that influence environmentally ethical behaviour by developing understanding, skills and values that will enable people participate as active and informed citizens in the development of an ecologically sustainable and socially just society.

The EET activities of the UNEP are founded on its mission of inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. This is achieved by promoting innovative, action oriented, and value-based environmental education for sustainable development by ensuring that environmental considerations are taken into account.

Environmental education and training work at UNEP is organized around three pillars namely: Education, Training and Networking.
The Environmental Education and Training Unit (EETU) is responsible for the implementation of Environmental Education and Training activities in UNEP.

Global Universities Partnership and Environment and Sustainability (GUPES)

Universities and Sustainability: Reorienting education towards sustainable development

The Global Universities Partnership on Environment for Sustainability (GUPES) is one of the flagship programmes of UNEP’s Environmental Education and Training Unit. GUPES was the result of a consultative forum organized by UNEP and its partners in Nairobi, on November 19, 2010 to deliberate on ways of escalating UNEP’s engagement with universities. It builds on the successes of the Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability in African Universities (MESA), the nascent Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability in the Caribbean Universities (MESCA) and the Asia-Pacific Regional University Consortium (RUC).

GUPES aims to promote the integration of environment and sustainability concerns into teaching, research, community engagement, the management of universities including greening of university infrastructures, facilities and operations, as well as to enhance student engagement and participation in sustainability activities both within and beyond universities.
GUPES’ objective is to enhance the quality, policy, practice and relevance of university education globally in the context of sustainable development, taking into account the emerging paradigm of Green Economy.

GUPES currently has a network of 116 universities and 10 partners across the various UNEP regions. It is also seeking partnerships with other regional and global higher education movements which have concern for environment and sustainability

The UNEP Advisory Council:

The Tunza Youth Advisory Council (TYAC) was launched in February 1999 at the 20th Session of the UNEP Governing Council.
The Council comprises 14 Advisors, two per UNEP region and two indigenous youth representatives. Members of the Advisory Council are elected at the Tunza International Youth Conference to serve for a period of two years.
The Council advises UNEP on better ways of engaging young people in its work and represents youth in international environmental negotiations.
The Council also seeks to increase youth involvement in UNEP’s work by informing youth groups in the regions about UNEP’s programmes for young people.

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