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17 Oct, 2011

Young Environmental Leaders from Developing Countries Showcase Sustainable Solutions

Leverkusen (Germany) / Nairobi, 17 October 2011 – Young environmental leaders from 18 developing countries are gathering in Germany this week to showcase their own, innovative solutions for sustainable development.

The 47 young people were selected from over 800 applicants to represent their countries at the UNEP-Bayer Young Environmental Envoy Programme, which kicks off today in Leverkusen, Germany.

From creating an online map of recycling centres in Argentina, to starting eco-tourism projects for cyclists in Chile or replacing charcoal with eco-friendly briquettes in cook stoves in Kenya, the young innovators are all involved in environmental initiatives in their home countries.

Through interactive workshops and field trips, the Environmental Envoy Programme aims to provide the young green innovators with expertise, support and new ideas to encourage them implement or expand their projects upon their return home.

To mark the official opening of the week-long event, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will lead a panel debate on the Green Economy, highlighting the role of youth in advocating for global action on sustainable development, particularly on the road to Rio+20 (the UN Sustainable Development Conference) due to be held in Brazil in June 2012.

“The participants in the UNEP-Bayer Young Environmental Envoy Programme are trailblazers in that they demonstrate the kinds of low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy solutions needed for a fairer, more sustainable and prosperous planet”, said Nick Nuttall, Acting Director of UNEP’s Division for Communications and Public Information.

“The energy and creativity embodied by the young envoys and their projects – such as solar-powered phone chargers in Venezuela, or compiling indigenous environmental knowledge and bringing it to young people in Ecuador – should serve as inspiration to their home governments, and others, to take concrete action on sustainable development next year at Rio+20,” he added.

UNEP will also hold workshops to advise young people on how they can communicate their green projects effectively to journalists, NGOs, governments and potential donors.

Field trips during the programme will focus mainly on sustainable waste management, with young people experiencing the latest green technology in the sector on visits to the Buerrig Waste Management Centre and AVEA, a waste processing and disposal facility in the city of Leverkusen.

The local state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) will also take part in the programme, in order to demonstrate the interaction between industry, authorities and private households in the field of environmental protection.

To mark the United Nations 2011 International Year of Forests, other excursions will focus on soil protection and sustainable forest management in Germany.

The Young Environmental Envoy Programme comes just two weeks after 1400 young people issued the Bandung Declaration at the UNEP-organized Tunza International Children and Youth Conference on the Environment, held in Indonesia.

Written by youth delegates from over 100 countries, the Bandung Declaration lays out the following action plan for young people in advance of Rio+20:

· Lobby their governments to make Rio+20 Earth Summit a top priority.

· Adopt more sustainable lifestyles and reduce their ecological footprints.

· Educate their communities and raise awareness about sustainable production and consumption.

· Support the work of young scientists and entrepreneurs that is geared towards Green Economy solutions.

· Contribute to the global, regional and national discussions on sustainable development

The overall objective of Rio+20 is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development and address emerging environmental issues. One of the central themes of the conference is the Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

The Young Environmental Envoy Program, launched in Asia in 1998, is one of the main initiatives in the partnership between Bayer and UNEP, which centres on youth and the environment.

Originally introduced in Thailand, the Envoy Programme was subsequently extended to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Since then, some 11,200 young people have applied for a place on the programme and around 500 envoys have been selected to travel to Germany.

Many former envoys now have jobs where they play a key role in environmental protection in their home countries. Through an alumni network on Facebook, envoys past and present can stay connected and exchange ideas and experiences on environmental protection with other green innovators around the world.

More information on the Environmental Envoy Programme is available at: www.bayeryoungenvoy.com

More information on UNEP’s Children and Youth Initiatives is available at: www.unep.org/tunza

Photographic material from the Envoy Programme can be found on the “Baynews International” server at www.press.bayer.com

More information on the 2011 Tunza International Children and Youth Conference and the Bandung Declaration is available at: http://www.unep.org/tunza/conference2011