title: youthxchange:
a unep & unesco project

Planet Earth is facing a severe global crisis. Economic and social development is putting an unbearable strain on our environment. Inefficient production and consumption patterns, together with uneven distribution, have widened the existing gap between North and South. It has been estimated that if the rest of the world were to consume like the developed world, we would need the equivalent of 4 extra Earths.

consumption & production patterns: according to the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), the world’s population is expected to increase by 40% by 2050 bringing the grand total of people on this planet to some 8.9 billion. Nearly all growth is projected likely to take place in the developing world. This will put immense pressure on our natural resources, biodiversity and the ecological balance of the planet we all call home. We need to change the way we view our resources and, more importantly, how we use them. Promoting sustainable consumption is more urgent now than ever.

youth role: half the world’s population is under 20 years old and 90% of all young people live in developing countries. Young people are a critical stakeholder in the global economy and will be the main actor and motor for change in the near future. The habit they develop now will play a decisive role in future consumption patterns. Their decisions as consumers exercise a growing influence on markets and lifestyles. Thus the energy, motivation and creativity of youth are essential assets to bringing about change.

UNEP & UNESCO: as the environmental conscience of the UN, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) underlines the importance of and the urgent need for a worldwide change in consumption and production patterns and attitudes. For its part, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) emphasises the role of education in shaping attitudes, values and behaviours, while developing the capacities, skills and commitment needed for building a sustainable future.

Through youthxchange, UNEP and UNESCO try to show young people that it is possible for all of us to translate our aspirations for a better world into everyday actions.

the YXC tool kit: this website and the related guide are intended as a tool kit to help trainers involve young people. It has been designed to assist youth groups, NGOs and teachers to help raise awareness of sustainable consumption (SC) and empower youth to put theory into practice.

We should look at what and how we produce and consume. But in order to do so without too much cost, we - as consumers - need: clear information, accessible sustainable products & services, and adequate infrastructures.

For this reason and to make SC more immediate to youth, the YXC tool kit uses a broad and inclusive approach to the issue. For example, although healthy eating, the sex trade or media literacy are not always considered strictly related to SC, the kit views them as significant factors in developing consumer awareness.

Using accessible information, concrete examples and everyday language, the YXC kit provides many facts & figures on SC issues. It highlights the links between cultural, geographical and inter-generational factors. In particular, youthxchange underlines how SC directly relates to quality of life, efficient use of resources (both human and natural), reduction of waste, and ethical issues such as child labour, animal welfare, fair trade and general equality.

the target group is urban youth who have access to information media and have comparable consumption patterns. But anybody with access to the Internet can participate in the YXC initiative.