UNEP strives for 'greener' future at Innsbruck 2012
INNSBRUCK, Jan 14 - Engaging youth in sustainable development one conversation at a time.
This is the goal of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as it strives to pass a 'greener' planet over to the next generation.
As part of the Culture and Education Programme of the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, UNEP aims to educate and engage participants through a host of interactive sessions.
"We are talking about protecting the future of the planet," Wondwosen ASNAKE KIBRET (ETH), the UNEP Regional Coordinator, said.
"Our world is choking and bleeding, and we need to do something about it. This generation wants to be remembered as the one that fixed the planet, not as the generation that destroyed it."
For the duration of the Games, UNEP will have a dedicated kiosk at Congress Innsbruck, home of the Culture and Education Programme, where athletes can learn about a wide range of environmental issues affecting their daily lives.
"I think young people have the right spirt and this is why we need to invest more in engaging and involving young people in our decision making processes," ASNAKE KIBRET said.
"This is the most educated generation ever and they are willing to help. We just need to involve them more."
ASNAKE KIBRET said that one of the major stumbling blocks in the struggle for sustainability was the false perception that 'going green' was an expensive undertaking.
"Politics and business always get in the way. But working on improving the environment is not expensive. Right now it is perceived as a cost, but if we invest a little now, we will not have to invest a lot tomorrow."
As part of a wider campaign, UNEP has created an Athlete's Wall at Congress Innsbruck where members of the Olympic Family can write short messages which will then be delivered during the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 20-22, 2012.
The main objective of the Conference will be to secure renewed commitments from all stakeholders involved in the global sustainable development movement.
International Olympic Committee President Jacques ROGGE (BEL) is expected to be in attendance.
"If we have a healthy planet, we will have a healthy society," ASNAKE KIBRET added.
"We also need to invest in young people and not in words. We should plant that seed today so that tomorrow we have a better future for them, the planet and the children to come."
IOC Young Reporter Alan Harris