I returned to Canada earlier this week after an exciting four days in Indonesia attending the TUNZA Conference 2011. Here are some of my recollections of the event in the form of a short diary.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011
We arrive at the conference centre, part of a university campus located in a forested pocket of the city, by bus from hotels scattered around the old Indonesian colonial capital of Bandung.

It is the first morning of the TUNZA Conference 2011. All of the participants are in their national dress. Children chatter with each other excitedly as we line-up to enter the conference centre. The theme of the week is “Rio+20: Sustainable Lifestyles and the Green Economy.”

Once through security we enter the auditorium and take our seats. Within minutes I am surrounded by whispered conversations in different languages.

The dignitaries take the stage to address the participants and officially open the conference: Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) and Gusti Muhammad Hatta, the Indonesian environment minister are inspirational and get warm applause, clearly making an impression on the participants.

We are off!

A plenary session, breakout regional meetings, time for lunch with a live band providing entertainment, then back in the afternoon for workshops on such varied topics as Youth Wisdom Council.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
I decide to walk the 3km to the conference centre rather than take the bus, and stop in at the city zoo on the way. I take in Ta’kaiya Blaney’s workshop on writing environmental songs for YouTube and Aleksandra Nasteska of We Canada on how to effectively use social media.

The engagement level and knowledge of the participants is really inspiring. I can’t wait to give my workshops.

chairs tunza conference

Thursday, September 29, 2011
My workshop day is here at last! Youth Climate Report gets a good turnout.

We introduce ourselves to each other. Participants are from Mongolia, Uganda, East Timor, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, among other countries. I feel very humbled to be standing before these eager kids who have travelled so far to participate here this day.

I start by showing some clips from our two climate change science documentaries — The Antarctica Challenge: A Global Warning and The Polar Explorer. The clips are designed to illustrate the type of things interviewers and segment producers need to keep in mind in order to produce professional looking interviews.

Then we set up the cameras and practice, practice, practice. The kids are keen, joking around with each other behind the camera but also serious about their work once their turn comes on camera or running the camera. All too soon, the time is up.

I wrap-up the workshop by telling them to get ready to be journalists and to tell their friends and classmates about what they have learned in the workshop: that they are the workshop leaders once they return home.

reporters tunza conference

I hand out buttons (BUTTONS!) and we take a group picture to celebrate. And then they are gone, back into the hallways, back to their regional meetings, back to the plenary work they have come to the conference to do: back to the negotiation of the final declaration, the instructions they want the government of Indonesia to take to the countries, governments and peoples of the world at the Rio+20 conference in June 2012.

In a short few hours they will be making history: children coming together from around the world to charge the generations in charge to take control of global sustainability and create a green economy on behalf of the coming generations.

It has been the best possible audience to introduce Youth Climate Report: children and youth who want their voices heard and want to participate in the global dialogue of issues that matter the most to them.

Thank you TUNZA!

 

John Kelly is the CEO and self-declared Emperor Penguin of Neko Harbour Entertainment Inc. and the Executive Producer of Youth Climate Report.

 

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