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IN THIS ISSUE
Something big is happening….
From 20-22 June 2012, thousands of delegates and heads of state will meet in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to discuss the world’s future*. This conference could be considered as the most important one in the history of the United Nations so far:
What is Sustainable Development pp. 2 - 3 Introduction to MGCY pp. 4 - 5 Developing your personal message pp. 6-8 Success Stories p. 9 Contacts p. 10
The Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development
In 1992, Rio was the stage for the first Earth Summit, where it was recognized that human actions and the way humans had been organizing the world was causing severe inequality and harm to the planet. It became urgent to make sustainable development a priority to secure the survival of the planet. Twenty years on, a lot of positive changes have taken
The decisions taken in Rio this June will have an impact fixing. This means that strong decisions need to be on how the world will be, and taken at Rio in June. on the future of young people across the world.
place, but it’s not enough. A lot of things still need
Everyone should participate in making those decisions happen.
Most of us will not be able to travel to Rio. However, the most important decision makers are us. Sustainable development is not just for politicians to handle—as young people, we inherit the consequences of the decisions taken now. This is why it is important for each of us to think globally, act locally and raise our voice. Every action counts! This toolkit series will help you to:
Gain more practical knowledge about sustainable development Become informed about the background and happenings related to Rio+20 Take local action by joining other young people to make a real, lasting impact on shaping the brighter future we all want!
Thank you for taking the step to learn more about sustainable development, Rio+20, and you! Look out for webinars, videos and other information. We look forward to keeping you in the know!
Understanding Sustainable Development
Sustainable development is more than just caring about the environment or generating money through economic growth. It is the intersection of THREE pillars: ENVIRONMENT, ECONOMY and SOCIETY. Sustainable development is about balance and a holistic approach to development. This means that some things need to be preserved and sustained while others should be given the incentive to be developed. What needs to be sustained: People and Cultures Natural Resources Biodiversity Environment and Ecosystems What needs to be developed. Quality of Life Justice and Social Equality Equal Opportunity Institutions Fair Income Culture of Sustainability We should approach sustainable development by considering that everything is interconnected across generations and across countries.
This may seem daunting— how do we keep track of everything? We all need to understand the principles behind sustainable development; principles such as equality, green living and social justice. Then, it will be easier to reach some agreement about what sustainable development truly is, and what the conditions necessary to achieve it are.
When we think of sustainable development, we must think of a system, where the decisions taken ensure that each component of the system—man, trees, environment, society, wealth—is capable of flourishing without hindering the capacity of the other component to do so, whether in the present or in the future.
Sustainability requires looking at everything as parts of a whole: the issues which we face are multiple and complex. We need a vision which addresses the wellbeing of people and the planet together.
There is no clear definition of sustainable development. SD truly occurs when economy, environment and society are in perfect harmony.
The most agreed upon definition of sustainable development comes from the Brundtland Report in 1987, a document which introduced the concept of sustainable development on the political agenda:
“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Sustainable Development is about you. Previously we mentioned what needs to be sustained and what needs to be developed. What items do you think should be sustained ? What items do you think should be developed? Make a list and discuss it with friends.
What is my role in Sustainable Development (SD)?
Sustainable development requires the active involvement of all stakeholders: governments, NGOs, private sector but also civil society. It is not just politicians, or policy makers, who decide what SD should be like. The most important stakeholder in SD is YOU! You can push policy-makers to make decisions that protect your future. You can demand better jobs, cleaner cities, more equal sharing of resources. Above all, you can push policy-makers to guarantee a secure future full of opportunities, a pleasant world to live in and a healthy planet. Sustainable development is especially important for young people. The sustainable development policies implemented today determine the future we will inherit ! By advocating for sustainable development and adopting sustainable practices, you are actively participating in shaping your own future. Making sustainable decisions…. The challenge is to devise policies which balance economic growth, environmental protection, and social equality. We can measure the progress of sustainable development policies using established indicators to evaluate if more needs to be done! We need to think about others and view our contributions as part of a system, to shape SD policies achieve goals that are beneficial to each of us and our planet.
Elements needed for Sustainable Development
Youth have an official voice on sustainable development at the United Nations.
The Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) is the official voice for young people in the UN sustainability negotiations, specifically the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and the Rio+20 Earth Summit. The MGCY is made up of organisations and individuals who care about the sustainability of our planet and actively want to participate in shaping the future. Through networking and collaborating with young people around the world, we develop policy recommendations for the official sustainable development process and participate in the negotiations to lobby for their adoption. In addition, the MGCY is a platform for youth involved in sustainability at a local level to share their ideas, tell their stories and voice their opinions.
The MGCY operates on the above principles. These principles guide our work in terms of policy and what we advocate for, and also how we work together.
The MGCY is open to every young person and the more people involved, the stronger our influence will be to inspire change. At the United Nations, we design the way the world works. We design the future.
The MGCY is your voice. Let it be heard.
How does the MGCY work?
The work of the MGCY is done entirely by volunteers: international young people who are committed to making a difference. There are different layers of organisation within the MGCY to help facilitate the inclusion of youth voices in the sustainability process. Organising partners Rio+20 process. Members of the FT are energetic and result oriented people with a common interest in advancing the role of young people, and working with the MGCY. Task Forces
Three Task Forces (TFs) have been established in line with the thematic discussions for Rio+20. The TFs are focused on The Organising Partners (OP) are the main liaison between the policy contributions and work with youth internationally to MGCY and UNDESA, the UN Department of Economic and So- develop and lobby for policy that reflects the voices, aspirations and concerns, of youth. cial Affairs, under which the CSD and Rio+20 fall. Their main role is to disseminate relevant data and information for the Working Groups MGCY to help facilitate activities that maximise youth Youth activism with the MGCY is facilitated through the participation. Working Groups (WGs). Different WGs have been estabFacilitation Team lished to enable young people with different interests to get involved in their own capacity. The WGs have a primary The Facilitation Team (FT) is the MGCY's decision-making focus of inspiring local action to help build the strength of body with the mandate to facilitate children and youth the youth voices in the process. participation and activities within the MGCY and
Task Forces: Facilitating youth involvement for the creation and
advocacy of policy amendments. There are three MGCY Task Forces aligned with the objectives of Rio+20 who work towards creating policy. The Task Forces are: Green Economy in the context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication. Institutional Framework (Governance) Objectives These Task Forces developed the MGCY contribution to the ‘Zero Draft’, which will become the primary negotiating text at Rio+20. Since then, we have been attending formal and informal negotiations to advocate for our points and influence policy. Here’s an overview of the groups: Green Economy The Green Economy aims to create an economic model that fully integrates sustainable development and poverty eradication. MGCY believes it is a system that can improve human wellbeing and social equality within the carrying capacity of the planet. We have developed youth-specific policy recommendations, such as youth employment through green jobs for youth , and lobby for these to be adopted. Institutional Framework—Governance The MGCY believes there is a need for reform in the governance for sustainable development. We believe that the establishment of ombudspersons for future generations and the greater participation of all stakeholders provide concrete solutions to shift the focus of our decision-making from short-term benefits to the long-term interests of younger and future generations. Objectives The MGCY objective for Rio+20 is commitment to the implementation of sustainable development, guided by a number of goals. The MGCY are creating a vision of these goals that integrate existing arrangements, include the 7 critical issues and have an action oriented approach. The MGCY also advocates for improved monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.
the working groups
Join us now. Get involved! The MGCY is your platform—the platform for all youth! 5
The first step in influencing Rio+20 is to talk about it!
How to talk about Sustainable Development and Rio+20 : Develop your own message.
Talking about sustainability can feel intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier. You do not have to be an expert to spread the word. Sustainability affects all of us, so relating your cause to that of others is already easier than you may first think! First, know some quick facts about sustainable development and Rio+20! 1. People participate in Rio+20 through the 9 Major Groups. The UNCSD Major Group of Children and Youth (MGCY) focuses on engaging young people in the Rio+20 process and tangible sustainable actions after Rio. Sustainability includes a protected environment, prevents climate change, respects all living beings and creates positive social change for us now and in the future. There are seven critical issues that are going to centre discussions at the conference. These are: Jobs, Oceans, Energy, Water, Food, Cities and Disasters. (Note: see the 7 issues explanation graphic on the next page which explains the importance of each issue. You can even use it as a handout!)
Getting the message across—Remember:
Do your homework—
Next, know where to direct people for more information. Everyone processes information differently, and having a clear way to access resources is always helpful. The best place to direct people with internet access is the Rio +20 official website for Children and Youth: uncsdchildrenyouth.org. If internet access is not available, share the country overview drafted by outreach team leaders about the issues instead. After you are familiar with quick facts and you know where to directs The next installment of our toolkit will tell you all you need to know about Rio+20! The Rio+20 conference is focused on nations renewing their commitments to sustainable development. Two main themes will be discussed—how to have a "green" economy and how to create a good framework for sustainable development. You can do some background checks yourself on:
learn a bit more about the topic so that you feel more confident
Know WHO your
Know WHERE your
audience is located (find out their background)
Know WHAT does your
audience already know?
Make it interesting!
Sustainability does not have to be formal or boring!
A graphic created by youth designer Dario Calonaci
7 critical issues for Rio+20.
After you are familiar with quick facts and you know where to direct people for further information, you can start developing a strategy for how to talk to people about sustainability and Rio. Key elements you should think about are:
WHO Who is your audience?
Where is your audience located? It may not be necessary to talk about consuming less in a place where there is not enough for people to consume.
What does your audience already know? One way to open up a conversation is to start by talking about what information you find interesting as information.
Be ready to give more, or less, information, depending on who you are talking to (this is where knowing where to direct people for additional information comes in handy!)
You do not have to be an expert. Just talk about what you know.
Instead, it may be more appropriate to speak about how to deal with waste in ways that are easier on the earth.
People become interested in what you believe in, so speak about sustainable development from your own experience and perspective. This will make you more comfortable speaking about it.
You decide the information you want to use to open up the dialogue; you know best what makes the most sense in your area of the world.
Talking about sustainable development does not have to be discussed formally, just speak as you would with friends, comfortably, in a language which you all understand.
GET INSPIRED: Take a look at this video that communicates why Rio+20 is important. http://vimeo.com/37579437
Youth-led successes in Sustainable Development
“One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” These words from J.F.Kennedy will always ring true. Changing the world is a daunting task and you will be faced with doubt. Young people across the world are trying to make the world better in their own way.
Educate the Children, Reforesting Nepal
Everyone has the
One of the main issues affecting the environment is deforestation. Read about Prem Bahadur Boharas’s reforestation project in Nepal: “I believe that every child has potential capacity to make a difference in his/her own life, school and community where they live” - Prem Bahadur Bohara, Earth Child Institute Nepal Prem heads the NGO Earth Child International (ECI) Nepal, that works with the community and local schools to restore the environment. In 2012, ECI Nepal launched the “Green School Campaign”. The campaign aims to educate and inspire young people to plant 100, 000 trees before June. According to Prem, the key is to empower young people through practical education and skills toward green and healthy lives. Informing youth in a way that relates to their personal experience, allows Prem to be successful in his work. “Here, climate change is considered as a global issue but we know we need to tackle it locally”, says Prem.
heard. I am afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in the ozone. I am afraid to breathe the air because I don’t know what chemicals are in it. I used to go fishing in Vancouver with my dad until just a few years ago we found the fish full of cancers. And now we hear about animals and plants going exinct every day — vanishing forever. In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds “(…) Coming here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future. Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come. I am here to speak on behalf of the starving children around * You don’t know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer. * You don’t know how to bring salmon back up a dead stream. * You don’t know how to bring back an animal now extinct. * And you can’t bring back forests that once grew where there is now desert. and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see. Did you have to worry about these little things when you were my age? All this is happening before our eyes and yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all the solutions. I’m only a child and I don’t have all the solutions, but I want you to realise, neither do you!
potential to make a difference.
People can be taught
about complex issues like sustainable development by connecting them to their own experience.
You can address
Here is an example of how to deliver a strong message for sustainable development. This is an A Strong Message... extract from the powerful speech given by Severn Suzuki Cullis, who raised her voice about her future 20 years ago at the plenary of the first Earth Summit:
global issues with simple local actions.
“The girl who silenced the world” - at the age of 12, Severn Suzuki Cullis addressed the plenary of the first Earth Summit (1992) with a powerful message. You can see her whole speech here: http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=uZsDliXzyAY
the world whose cries go unheard. I am here to speak for the countless animals dying across this planet because they have nowhere left to go. We cannot afford to be not
If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!
I’m only a child yet I know we are all part of a family, five billion strong, in fact, 30 million species strong and we all share the same air, water and soil — borders and governments will never change that. I’m only a child yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal.
This completes the first section of our Rio+20 toolkit series.
Learn more about Rio+20 and gather more resources in Part 2 of our series. Part 2 will tell you all about Rio+20 , tips and tricks for lobbying and more!
If you are interested in getting involved, taking action, or simply knowing more about what we’re doing, feel free to contact any of us for more information: MAJOR GROUP FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH Website: http://uncsdchildrenyouth.org/ Facebook: www.facebook.com/UNCSDYouthCaucus Twitter: @MGCY_UNCSD EARTH CHARTER INTERNATIONAL Website: http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EarthCharter Twitter: @earthcharter EOTO WORLD Website: http://www.eotoworld.org/ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EOTOWorld Twitter: @EOTOWorld
Thanks and acknowledgements
Authors : Barkha Mossae (Mauritius), Sasha Pratt (UK), Neringa Miliauskaite (Lithuania), Elischia Fludd (USA), Nora Mahmoud (Costa Rica/USA) . Contributors for Part 1: Aanas Ali (Thailand), Kiara Worth (S.Africa), Saba Loftus (Ireland), Sini Illmonen (Finland), Prem Bohara (Nepal) and everyone who gave their valuable input and feedback. Photo Credits: Oliver Rieche, Cynthia Keza, and Vietnam Jump , Radomir Dolejsi, and Kyle Kaianaupuni Robertson.
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