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Young environmentalists return home with backpacks full of new ideas


UNEP and Bayer extend partnership for a further three years.

Leverkusen. – The TUNZA International Youth Conference hosted by Bayer in Leverkusen ended with a tree planting event. All 180 participants planted a tree on the Bayer site as their personal contribution to the “Plant for the Planet: The Billion Tree Campaign,” an initiative launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Bayer is taking part in several countries in this project, under which UNEP has called on governments, non-governmental organizations and private individuals to plant a total of one billion trees in order to actively counter climate change.

“This year’s conference was a strong impetus for the international environmental youth movement” said UNEP Communications Director Eric Falt. “New members who share the same passion for the environment have joined the community of young environmentalists.”

“Bayer was delighted to host UNEP’s Youth Conference” said company spokesperson Michael Schade. “The participants’ dedication was impressive: They not only had stimulating discussions, they also came up with concrete proposals to address environmental problems in their home countries.”

Participants from 85 countries spent four days exchanging ideas on “Technology in Service of the Environment” and key global environmental issues such as climate change and the importance of renewable energies. They also gained firsthand experience through visits to Bayer sites and external model environmental facilities. They take new ideas for their environmental activities back home with them, and some have already formulated concrete action plans. Following a discussion in Germany, some Chinese participants are planning a pilot project to produce fuel from rapeseed oil.

Conference participants also elected some of their own to serve on the Tunza Youth Advisory Council, which will advise UNEP on issues relating to youth environmental work for the next two years. Its members were elected according to the UN’s principle of “One Member Country, One Voice.” Elected were two representatives each from North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, West Asia and Asia and the Pacific. 22-year-old Sara Svensson from Sweden and 19-year-old Dimitri Tasmali from Turkey will in future represent Europe. “My goal is to promote environmental protection and a sustainable lifestyle and be a trendy role model, in order to motivate more youth to get involved” said the young Swede, who is active in the organization Youth and Environment Europe. As for Dimitri Tasmali, he takes part in environmental education projects for school students in Turkey, and wants to tie these activities with similar projects in other European countries.

Bayer and UNEP also used the conference in order to extend their cooperation agreement in the area of youth and environment by another three years. The two partners will further expand and jointly implement about a dozen international environmental projects for youth and children. Bayer will provide funding for these projects of EUR 1.2 million per year, thereby increasing its annual financial contribution by EUR 200,000. In 2004 the Leverkusen-based company became the first and the primary private-sector partner to UNEP in youth and the environment.

The projects of the Tunza program sponsored within the context of the Bayer-UNEP partnership include the Tunza International Youth and Children’s Conferences, which take place in alternate years, youth networks in various regions of the world, the Tunza magazine and the annual International Children’s Painting Competition on the Environment. Alone this year, more than 13,000 children from over 100 countries submitted paintings.

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