What future do you want?

Still buzzing with excitement following Youth Declaration, or perhaps experiencing post-conference blues? Never fear, enthusiastic member, the opportunities to engage with global affairs just keep on coming. Allow me to elaborate:

In 1992 there  was a United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  This was known as the Earth Summit, or the UN Conference on Environment and Development. It was here that Agenda 21 was adopted, a comprehensive plan-of-action, meant to deal with all issues arising from humans using or exploiting the environment. Quite a hefty task, one might add.

As you will be well aware, the world is rapidly changing. The General Assembly found that there were a lot of new issues emerging as impediments to this plan, things that didn’t really exist two decades ago, or at least not on their current scale. Globalisation, for one thing, and unprecedented technological advancement. And although we have seen a growing global middle class, there are deepening inequalities on the fringes.  The reality of Agenda 21 was divorced from the original ideas and goals, despite commitment to ‘further action’ and ‘full implementation’ coming from the UN.

So, twenty years on, we get Rio + 20. Clearly the international community has more pressing issues than creative conference titles.


What is Rio + 20?

Clause 20 (a) of 2010 GA resolution [64/236] (a real one, keen Munsters) reads,

The objective of the Conference will be to secure renewed political
commitment for sustainable development, assessing the progress to date and the
remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on
sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges.

This conference will set the sustainable development agenda for the decades ahead.

The Economic and Social Council have identified seven key issues, which you can see in the symbolic diagram below:

So it is at about this point in the blog post that you might be starting to think, how can I get involved and play my part in this global conference, which is going to determine the world I live in? While pondering this, you may have also perused the aforementioned resolution, and came across operative clause 12, which of course reads,

Also reaffirms the objective of enhancing the participation and effective
involvement of civil society and other relevant stakeholders, as well as promoting
transparency and broad public participation…

And you’re right in thinking that this applies to you. So, read on, young global citizen, and prepare yourself for exciting information.

Your line: ‘Wow, this is neat! But how do I become part of the process?’

This questions plays on your mind for a while. You keep thinking, ‘These leaders are making decisions on my behalf. But how do they know what I think?’ So you get together with your friends, are you start talking about how super it would be if you could all somehow present your views to these decision-makers.

Well, dear friends, this blog post is going to make your day!

UNICEF, in cooperation with a bunch of other great organisations, are running Rio + 20 youth consultations in the three major centres in the coming weeks. Here, you will learn more and discuss the critical issues of sustainable development, and express your views to our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and also international forums like the World Youth Congress, which will run concurrently with the conference in Brazil.

Before you start think of excuses for why you shouldn’t go, consider yourself already qualified. It’s not about technical knowledge, but about your vision and hopes for your future.

Imagine the city you want to live in when you’re older.

Do you imagine safe streets and green, open spaces?

Do you want a well-paying job, and financial security?

Will you and all your friends drive your own car?

What kind of world do you want to live in? How will we get there?

This is the essence of sustainable development. You are a key stakeholder in these issues, and you now have the opportunity to influence the conference which aims to ‘define pathways to a safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and more prosperous world for all.’

During the consultation, you will hear from guest speakers and a panel of experts, as well as participating in facilitated group discussions. Your views will be brought together not only in a document, but expressed through an art project and video message.


What is ‘sustainable development?

If simplified, it can look a little bit like this:

Or summed up like this:

We must also remember that the human system is only one of  many, and it is imperative that it operate along side natural systems- climatic, for example.

We can’t solve all the world’s problems in a day, no matter how many UN Youth events we’ve been to. We can, however, through educating ourselves and engaging in society, build the foundations for sustainable change.

So, while you are recovering from this wildly inspiration post, register for a free youth consultation in your city!

Saturday 21st April
Case room 1, Owen G Glen building
University of Auckland

Saturday 28th April
Location to be confirmed

Saturday 5th May
Dovendale Village rooms DA1 and DA2
University of Canterbury

Register at: www.unicef.org.nz/thefuturewewant 

For more info email: [email protected]

See you there! 

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