Press release

Young Canadians Leading the Way to Sustainable Development

August 29, 2002

Minister Whelan Recognizes the Contribution of Canadian Youth at WSSD

WINNIPEG — Former participants in the Canadian Government's Youth International Internship Program (YIIP), representatives from international organizations and Canadian government officials gather at a reception hosted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development to hear how programs such as YIIP have advanced Canada's contribution to sustainable development.

The YIIP program is funded through the Youth Employment Strategy and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

"Many of the answers to the complex challenges of sustainable development involve fundamentally changing the way we think and the way we live; and youth are not only better prepared to make such changes, they are better prepared to lead the way, " said Minister Whelan. "Canada supports international internships to provide youth with the skills, knowledge, and contacts required to deal with the realities of the world today."

IISD has been a sponsoring organization of the Government of Canada's YIIP since 1997. The IISD works to match the skills and interests of young Canadians with the needs of international organizations focused on sustainable development issues. Over 130 young Canadians have been placed in over 50 different host organizations where they have had the opportunity to share their skills, promote sustainability, and gain international work experience. The reception for Canadian interns will highlight the success of YIIP and the direct contributions being made by the youth of Canada to the WSSD and to the sustainable development movement at home and abroad.

"It is no accident that wherever you go in the world, you find young Canadians making progress towards sustainability within the United Nations, international corporations and non-profits. The YIIP program has been instrumental in cultivating a generation of young leaders with a global outlook and concern for the environment," said David Runnalls, President of the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

Former interns recognize the contribution it makes to building careers in sustainable development. "The program was invaluable to me in my pursuit of a career in development," said Alyson Slater, a former YIIP intern who helped to organize the World Summit parallel event. "The face-to-face contact and cross-cultural flow of ideas has allowed me to develop extensive international contacts, and enriched my ideas and values."

Many current and former interns are playing a pivotal role at the WSSD, including organizing NGO participation, developing sustainable development reporting guidelines for companies, and contributing to key WSSD documents, most notably the Global Environment Outlook (GEO), and Conserving the Peace.

The event will be held at 6:15 pm - 9:00 pm at the IUCN Environment Center, Aloe Room 135 Rivonia Road, NEDCOR Bank Building, Sandton Square, Johannesburg.

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 250 experts come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries.