The declaration was finalized and adopted by people from 10 to 24 years of age gathered here as part of the global Seal the Deal! campaign spearheaded by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to rouse political will and public support for a comprehensive global climate agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions after the current Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2021.
"We are the generation of tomorrow. The decisions that are made today will define our future and the world we have to live in," said youth delegate, 23-year-old Anne Walraven from the Netherlands. "So we young people of the world urge governments to commit to a strong post-Kyoto climate regime. It is our lives we are talking about."
Their climate change statement, "Listen to Our Voices: The Future Needs Strong Vision and Leadership," comes four months before the critical climate talks in Copenhagen in December, and just four weeks ahead of the High-Level Summit on Climate Change convened by the UN secretary-general in September in New York City.
The secretary-general said, "This global youth and children gathering under the Seal the Deal! campaign is the largest international gathering of young people this year advocating for climate change action. Their voices will and must be heard because they will inherit the outcomes of our actions."
Some delegates at the Tunza Children and Youth Conference on the Environment (Photo courtesy UNEP)
Eight weeks of online discussions among young people across the planet shaped the declaration that was finalized at a Global Town Hall today in Daejeon.
During the Town Hall meeting, the hundreds of Daejeon participants were joined by over 200 young people in 15 cities around the world, including Cuernavaca, Mexico; Nairobi, Kenya; Canberra, Australia; Bangkok, Thailand; Vancouver, Canada; and Athens, Greece.
"It is very important to include the voice of children and youth in every environmental decision. It is our request to all politicians that they please take this statement into consideration in Copenhagen," said 13-year-old Yugratna Srivastava from India.
The Tunza declaration calls on world leaders to, "Agree on a more fair, just and action oriented post-Kyoto agreement adopted and implemented by all countries."
The young delegates support "strict laws and enforcement against those who pollute and degrade the environment, coupled with education and incentives to protect the environment."
They urge world leaders to, "Develop and implement clearly defined carbon action plans and climate response strategies, which can be monitored and reviewed by an independent multi-national climate facility."
The declaration calls for renewable energy, affordable energy efficient products, fewer private cars, more public and pedestrian transport systems, mandatory environmental education, strategic environmental conflict resolution, sustainable food production, and green industry, as well as carbon and ecological footprint information displayed on product labels.
The Tunaz conference delegates view themselves as representatives of the world's three billion young people. They pledged to stage large rallies across 100 capitals to urge global leaders to take action on climate change under the banner of the Seal the Deal! campaign.
They also will send a personal letter with a copy the declaration to governments in over 100 capitals around the world. to each of the world leaders, from U.S. President Barack Obama to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, urging them to "Seal a meaningful Deal on climate change" at Copenhagen.
While in Daejeon, UNEP's Steiner said South Korea is among several nations taking the lead on climate change.
Under a new partnership with the east Asian nation, UNEP has reviewed the South Korea's $40 billion stimulus plan, launched in January. More than 80 percent of the funding is allocated to environmentally-friendly investment, with an expanded $84 billion plan sketched out for the next five years. UNEP's review indicates that regulatory and fiscal reforms will drive sustainable growth.
Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.