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History & Mandate

A look through the history of UNEP, Civil Society engagement, and Youth inclusion


The mandate of the Children & Youth Major Group, therefore, comes from various GA resolutions, UNEA resolutions and Stakeholder Engagement processes of UNEP. Notably - 






UNEA Rules and Procedures

Stakeholder Engagement procedures 

Mandate of the Major Group Facilitation Committee (MGFC)

1972 - UNEP is created

The first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the "Stockholm Conference'' held in 1972 brought delegates from 113 nations together in Sweden.


The conference was unprecedented and became the starting point of the international attempt to tackle “environmental problems". It adopted the "Declaration on the Human Environment" with a set of guiding principles, and led to establishment of the UN Environment Programme. 

1992 - Major Groups formalised 

The 1972 Conference was succeeded by the "Earth Summit" in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro that recognised that achieving sustainable development would require the active participation of all sectors of society and all types of people. As such its outcome, Agenda 21, formalised nine sectors and rightsholder groups of society as the main channels through which broad participation would be facilitated in UN activities related to sustainable development. These are officially called "major groups" and have since been expanded and referenced in over a dozen UN General Assembly resolutions as “Major Groups and other Stakeholders” 


1995 - the Year of Youth 
UNEP began its work with young people in 1985, which was designated International Youth Year 

2003 - TUNZA is born 
In February 2003, the Governing Council of UNEP adopted a long-term strategy for engaging young people in environmental activities and in the work of UNEP. The strategy was entitled the Tunza Youth Strategy. The word “TUNZA” means “to treat with care or affection” in Kiswahili (a sub-regional language of Eastern Africa). 

The overall Tunza Concept, therefore, aimed to create a global movement in which children and Youth will actively participate in sustainable development. Part of this strategy include the annual Tunza International Children and Youth Conference, Tunza Youth Advisory Council, Tunza Junior Board and a quarterly Tunza magazine.

2003 - 2013: TUNZA program operates 

TUNZA program operated through various International Children and Youth Conferences convened by UNEP, notably International Children and Youth Conference in Daejeon, South Korea (2009), International Children’s Conference in lead-up to UNCBD COP10 in Nagoya, Japan (2010), International Children and Youth Conference in Bandung, Indonesia (2011), etc. 

The TUNZA Youth Advisory Council (TYAC) and Tunza Junior Board (JB) were elected for a period of 2 years at these conferences that engaged in different processes of UNEP and facilitated engagement of youth within their region. 

Tunza Program Operates

2012: Children and Youth MG in context of UNEP  

In the lead-up to Rio+20, Major Groups started to restructure within the UNEP processes as well and UNEP Children and Youth Major Group came into existence in mid-2012. 


2013-2014: UNEP Governing Councils become universal - birth of UNEA

The UNEP Governing Council (GC) hosted its final 27th Session in its new incarnation as a UN Environment Program with universal membership, i.e., all 193 member states of the United Nations automatically became members of the UNEP Governing Council.  The new structure obviated the need for any formal role of the General Assembly to elect members of UNEP’s plenary body—to be now known as the UN Environment Assembly

2013-2014: Major Groups formalised within the process of UNEP, Stakeholder Engagement processes adopted 

In the same period as establishment of UNEA, the 9 Major Groups also referred to as "Constituencies” were formalized as space for formal engagement of civil society within the process of UNEP. It is further governed by processes enshrined in the UNEP Stakeholder Engagement Handbook.


The CYMG subsequently facilitates engagement of children and youth at UNEA and processes of UNEP.

Tunza Program Operates
 Major Groups formalised
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