The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) enlisted the help of North American youth to help tackle climate change at a summit kicking off today in the United States city of Chicago.
The “Kick the Carbon Habit” education campaign is being launched at a three-day event featuring 20 youth representatives, between the ages of 18 and 22, from the US and Canada.
The new project seeks to raise awareness of the importance of resource conservation, and UNEP stressed the importance of education and youth leadership in addressing global warming.
“With the unprecedented environmental challenges facing the world today, we applaud the commitment of these 20 young Americans and Canadians to demonstrate that youth are not just the voice of tomorrow but the leaders of today,” said Amy Fraenkel, the director and regional representative of the agency’s Regional Office for North America.
The representatives were selected for their leadership skills and experience in working on environmental issues as part of UNEP’s three-prong outreach strategy to target children from eight to 14 years of age, youth from 14-22 years and the general population.
At the Chicago conference, the youth will be given a start-up kit of educational tools to use in their respective regions. They are expected to utilize the website to spread the word, distribute a monthly e-newsletter to update volunteers and help decide the network’s future goals.
In a related development, a UN gathering to combat desertification wrapped up today in Istanbul, Turkey.
Delegates from the 193 countries which are party to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) discussed how to resolve scientific problems, as some 12 million hectares of land are lost every year to degradation and other environmental causes.
Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the Convention, cautioned that without action by both developed and developing nations, “some 50 million people could be displaced by desertification and land degradation within the next ten years.”
Along with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UNCCD, which entered into force in 1996, is one of the outcomes of the historic environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.