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National Youth Environment Forum

5 June 2003 Media Statement

National Youth Environment Forum

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs marked World Environment Day today by announcing the establishment of a national Youth Environment Forum.

"Young people can make a real difference to the environment," Marian Hobbs said. "Many other countries have environmental youth councils which have propelled young environmentalists to the world stage.

"A formally structured national forum for young New Zealanders with an interest in the environment will have a real impact.

"We need young people with a strong understanding of the issues facing this country, and the energy, enthusiasm and commitment to tackle these issues, at a community, regional and national level. The leaders of tomorrow must come from the young people of today, and investing in them - building their confidence and experience is another form of sustainable development.

“The Ministry for the Environment will convene the first National Forum in Wellington this September and I will be closely involved."

The forum will be open to people between the ages of 15 and 18 and three representatives will be invited from each of the 16 regions in New Zealand.

"I am working with local government to explore ways of making this happen, both by nominating representatives to the national forum and by considering establishing a youth environment forum or council in their own region," Marian Hobbs said. "It is the local places and regional issues that will help young people relate to their environment. Their understanding of their region will be an essential base for contributing at the national level.

"I am encouraged by the responses I have already received from councils.

"The Ministry will be working with advisers from the Ministries of Youth Affairs and Education and the Department of Conservation as well as representatives from regional councils, the youth sector, and NGO’s to make this dream a reality."

Youth Affairs Minister John Tamihere said he would be happy to take part in the forum.

"Meeting young people around the country, I find that environmental issues are a frequent matter of interest and concern among our youth," he said. "The forum will be a great opportunity to bring those issues to the fore and let young people have a say in the future sustainability of our environment."


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