Part I: Our Future is Worth It: How YOUth can take ACTION for Sustainable Development


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Part I of a Rio+20 Toolkit Series designed for youth to learn about sustainable development and to become aware of Rio+20. This toolkit is made in collaboration with Earth Charter International and the UN CSD Major Group for Children and Youth.

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Part I: Our Future is Worth It: How YOUth can take ACTION for Sustainable Development

  1. 1. A Rio+20Toolkit Series : Part I Our Future is Worth It: How YOUth can take ACTION for Sustainable Development In partnership with:
  2. 2. Get Started IN THIS ISSUE Something big is happening…. What is Sustainable From 20-22 June 2012, thousands of delegates and heads of state will meet in Rio Development de Janeiro, Brazil, to discuss the world’s future*. This conference could be con- pp. 2 - 3 sidered as the most important one in the history of the United Nations so far: Introduction to MGCY The Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development pp. 4 - 5 In 1992, Rio was the stage for the first Earth Summit, Developing your where it was recognized that human actions and the personal message pp. way humans had been organizing the world was caus- ing severe inequality and harm to the planet. It be- 6-8 came urgent to make sustainable development a Success Stories priority to secure the survival of the planet. p. 9 Twenty years on, a lot of positive changes have taken The decisions taken in Rio Contacts place, but it’s not enough. A lot of things still need this June will have an impact p. 10 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. 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 deci- sions 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!1
  3. 3. Understanding Sustainable Development 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 develop- ment is about balance When we think of sustainable development, we must think of a system, where and a holistic approach the decisions taken ensure that each component of the system—man, trees, to development. This environment, society, wealth—is capable of flourishing without hindering the means that some things capacity of the other component to do so, whether in the present or in the need to be preserved future. and sustained while oth- Systems Approach ers should be given the incentive to be Sustainability requires looking at everything as parts of a whole: the issues developed. which we face are multiple and complex. We need a vision which addresses the wellbeing of people and the planet together. What needs to be sustained: There is no clear definition of sustainable development. SD truly occurs  People and Cultures when economy, environment and society are in perfect harmony.  Natural Resources  Biodiversity We should approach sustainable development by considering that everything is interconnected across generations and across countries.  Environment and Ecosystems This may seem daunting— how do we keep track of everything? We all need to understand the principles behind sustainable development; principles such as What needs to be equality, green living and social justice. Then, it will be easier to reach some developed. agreement about what sustainable development truly is, and what the conditions necessary to achieve it are.  Quality of Life  Justice and Social Equality The most agreed upon definition of sustainable development comes from the  Equal Opportunity Brundtland Report in 1987, a document which introduced the concept of  Institutions sustainable development on the political agenda:  Fair Income “Sustainable development is development that meets  Culture of Sustainability the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”2
  4. 4. Remember: What is my role in Sustainable Development (SD)? Sustainable development requires the active involvement of all stakeholders:Sustainable governments, NGOs, private sector but also civil society. It is not just politicians, or policyDevelopment is makers, who decide what SD should be like. The most important stakeholder in SD is YOU!about you. You can push policy-makers to make decisions that protect your future. You canPreviously we demand better jobs, cleaner cities, more equal sharing of resources. Above all, you canmentioned what push policy-makers to guarantee a secure future full of opportunities, a pleasant worldneeds to be to live in and a healthy planet.sustained andwhat needs to be Sustainable development is especially important for youngdeveloped. people. The sustainable development policies implemented today determine the future we will inherit !What items do By advocating for sustainable development and adoptingyou think should sustainable practices, you are actively participating inbe sustained ? shaping your own future. Making sustainable decisions….What items doyou think should The challenge is to devise policies which balance economic growth, environmentalbe developed? protection, and social equality. We can measure the progress of sustainable development policies using established indicators to evaluate if more needs to be done!Make a list and We need to think about others and view our contributions as part of a system, to shapediscuss it with SD policies achieve goals that are beneficial to each of us and our planet.friends. Elements needed for Sustainable Development3
  5. 5. 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 Commis- sion 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 devel- opment process and participate in the negotiations to lobby for their adop- tion. 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. The MGCY is open to every young person and the more people involved, theThese principles guide our work in terms of stronger our influence will be to inspire change. At the United Nations, we design the way the world works. We design the future.policy and what we advocate for, and alsohow we work together. The MGCY is your voice. Let it be heard. How does the MGCY work?The work of the MGCY is done entirely by volunteers: Rio+20 process. Members of the FT are energetic and resultinternational young people who are committed to making a oriented people with a common interest in advancing thedifference. There are different layers of organisation within role of young people, and working with the MGCY.the MGCY to help facilitate the inclusion of youth voices in the Task Forcessustainability process. Three Task Forces (TFs) have been established in line withOrganising partners the thematic discussions for Rio+20. The TFs are focused onThe Organising Partners (OP) are the main liaison between the policy contributions and work with youth internationally toMGCY and UNDESA, the UN Department of Economic and So- develop and lobby for policy that reflects the voices, aspira-cial Affairs, under which the CSD and Rio+20 fall. Their main tions and concerns, of youth.role is to disseminate relevant data and information for the Working GroupsMGCY to help facilitate activities that maximise youth Youth activism with the MGCY is facilitated through theparticipation. Working Groups (WGs). Different WGs have been estab-Facilitation Team lished to enable young people with different interests to get involved in their own capacity. The WGs have a primaryThe Facilitation Team (FT) is the MGCYs decision-making focus of inspiring local action to help build the strength ofbody with the mandate to facilitate children and youth the youth voices in the process. participation and activities within the MGCY and4
  6. 6. 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+20who work towards creating policy. The Task Forces are:  Green Economy in the context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication.  Institutional Framework (Governance)  ObjectivesThese Task Forces developed the MGCY contribution to the ‘Zero Draft’,which will become the primary negotiating text at Rio+20. Since then, wehave been attending formal and informal negotiations to advocate for ourpoints and influence policy. Here’s an overview of the groups:Green EconomyThe Green Economy aims to create an economic model that fully integratessustainable development and poverty eradication. MGCY believes it is asystem that can improve human wellbeing and social equality within thecarrying capacity of the planet. We have developed youth-specific policyrecommendations, such as youth employment through green jobs foryouth , and lobby for these to be adopted.Institutional Framework—GovernanceThe MGCY believes there is a need for reform in the governance for sustain-able development. We believe that the establishment of ombudspersons forfuture generations and the greater participation of all stakeholders provideconcrete solutions to shift the focus of our decision-making from short-termbenefits to the long-term interests of younger and future generations.ObjectivesThe MGCY objective for Rio+20 is commitment to the implementation ofsustainable development, guided by a number of goals. The MGCY arecreating a vision of these goals that integrate existing arrangements, in-clude the 7 critical issues and have an action oriented approach. The MGCYalso 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
  7. 7. How to talk about Sustainable Development and The first step in Rio+20 : Develop your own message. influencing Rio+20 is to talk about it! 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. 2. Sustainability includes a protected environment, prevents climate change, respects all living beings and creates positive social change for us now and in the future. 3. 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 hand- out!)Getting the messageacross—Remember: Next, know where to direct people for more information. Do your homework— Everyone processes information differently, and having a clear way to access re- learn a bit more about sources is always helpful. The best place to direct people with internet access is the topic so that you the Rio +20 official website for Children and Youth: feel more confident 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 Know WHO your you know where to directs audience is The next installment of our toolkit will tell Know WHERE your you all you need to know about Rio+20! audience is located The Rio+20 conference is focused on na- (find out their back- tions renewing their commitments to sus- ground) tainable development. Two main themes Know WHAT does your will be discussed—how to have a "green" audience already economy and how to create a good know? framework for sustainable develop- ment. You can do some background Make it interesting! checks yourself on: Sustainability does not have to be formal or boring!6
  8. 8. A graphic created by youth designer Dario Calonaci 7 critical issues for Rio+20.
  9. 9. 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 WHERE WHAT Who is your audience? Where is your audience What does your audience already located? know? Be ready to give more, or less, It may not be necessary to talk One way to open up a information, depending on about consuming less in a place conversation is to start by who you are talking to (this is where there is not enough for talking about what information where knowing where to direct people to consume. you find interesting as people for additional information. information comes in handy!) Instead, it may be more appropriate to speak about how Talking about sustainable You do not have to be an to deal with waste in ways that development does not have to expert. Just talk about what are easier on the earth. be discussed formally, just you know. speak as you would with friends, comfortably, in a lan- You decide the information you guage which you all understand. People become interested in want to use to open up the what you believe in, so speak dialogue; you know best what about sustainable develop- makes the most sense in your ment from your own area of the world. experience and perspective. This will make you more comfortable speaking about it. GET INSPIRED: Take a look at this video that communicates why Rio+20 is important.
  10. 10. Youth-led successes in Sustainable Development“One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” These words from J.F.Kennedy will always ringtrue. Changing the world is a daunting task and you will be faced with doubt. Young people across the world aretrying to make the world better in their own way. One of the main issues affecting the environment isPrem’s story: deforestation. Read about Prem Bahadur Boharas’sEducate the reforestation project in Nepal:Children, “I believe that every child has potential capacity to make a difference in his/her own life, school and communityReforesting Nepal where they live” - Prem Bahadur Bohara, Earth Child Everyone has the Institute Nepal potential to make a Prem heads the NGO Earth Child International (ECI) difference. Nepal, that works with the community and local schools to restore the environment. In 2012, ECI Nepal launched the People can be taught “Green School Campaign”. The campaign aims to educate about complex issues and inspire young people to plant 100, 000 trees before like sustainable June. development by connecting them to According to Prem, the key is to empower young people their own experience. through practical education and skills toward green and healthy lives. Informing youth in a way that relates to their personal experience, allows You can address Prem to be successful in his work. “Here, climate change is considered as a global issue but global issues with we know we need to tackle it locally”, says Prem. simple local actions. Here is an example of how to heard. I am afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in deliver a strong message for the ozone. I am afraid to breathe the air because I don’t know sustainable development. This is anA Strong Message... extract from the powerful speech 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. given by Severn Suzuki Cullis, who And now we hear about animals and plants going exinct everyraised her voice about her future 20 years ago at the plenary of the first Earth Summit: 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, and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my I have no hidden agenda. children to see. Did you have to worry about these little things I am fighting for my fu- when you were my age? All this is happening before our eyes and ture. Losing my future is yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all the solutions. not like losing an election I’m only a child and I don’t have all the solutions, but I want you to or a few points on the realise, neither do you! stock market. I am here to speak for all genera- * You don’t know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer. tions to come. I am here * You don’t know how to bring salmon back up a dead stream. to speak on behalf of the * You don’t know how to bring back an animal now extinct. starving children around * And you can’t bring back forests that once grew where there is “The girl who silenced the world” - at the world whose cries go now desert. the age of 12, Severn Suzuki Cullis ad- unheard. I am here to If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it! dressed the plenary of the first Earth speak for the countless I’m only a child yet I know we are all part of a family, five billion Summit (1992) with a powerful message. You can see her whole speech here: animals dying across this strong, in fact, 30 million species strong and we all share the same planet because they have air, water and soil — borders and governments will never change v=uZsDliXzyAY nowhere left to go. We that. I’m only a child yet I know we are all in this together and cannot afford to be not should act as one single world towards one single goal.9
  11. 11. THANK YOU 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! CONTACT US 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: Facebook: Twitter: @MGCY_UNCSD EARTH CHARTER INTERNATIONAL Website: Facebook: Twitter: @earthcharter EOTO WORLD Website: Facebook: 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 every- one who gave their valuable input and feedback. Photo Credits: Oliver Rieche, Cynthia Keza, and Vietnam Jump , Radomir Dolejsi, and Kyle Kaianaupuni Robertson.10