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


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Part 3 of 4 in the Rio+20 Toolkit Series. This issue focuses on the concept of the Green Economy and how to use media for advocacy.

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

  1. 1. A Rio+20Toolkit Series : Part III Our Future is Worth It: How YOUth can take ACTION for Sustainable Development In partnership with:
  2. 2. Moving toward a Sustainable Future! IN THIS ISSUE Recalling the focus of Rio+20 In the previous toolkits, we discussed what Sustainable Development is, the Recalling Rio+20 story of Rio+20 and how to take basic actions to start impacting your world. and Moving Let us take a quick look back to remember key points for Rio+20. from Brown to Green The Conference will revolve around 2 main themes: p. 1  The Green Economy in the context of Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Defining Green Development Economy  The Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development pp. 2-3 and 7 Critical Issues: Green Jobs and Key  Cities, Disasters, Energy, Food, Jobs, Oceans and Water. Challenges p. 4 Using Media as Moving from Brown to Green an Advocacy As young people, we are all concerned with growth, development, income, Tool and jobs. p. 5 Economy refers to the whole set of production, distribution and consumption Sample Letters of goods and services in a country or in the world. Sustainable Development pp. 6-7 encompasses an economic pillar which is a crucial factor in ensuring income generation and sustained human activity and jobs. Creating Your own The system of economy that the world currently uses is called the Brown Media Economy. The Brown Economy is an economy that lacks respectful use of pp. 8-9 environmental resources and provides enough wealth for communities to live well. The future of Sustainable Development depends to a large extent on Contacts whether we can move from a Brown Economy to a Green Economy. p. 101
  3. 3. Defining a Green EconomyThe resources we have on Earth are limited. Current practices use more resources than is healthy for the planet.Collectively, we prevent a large section of the world from enjoying the benefits of economic growth. Our economicgrowth pollutes nature, aggravates social inequality and erodes fertile land.We desperately need to change the pattern of our economy and our consumption. Changing our economy to onethat is green is an important part of the Rio+20 agenda. A Green Economy can help us to eradicate poverty andensure Sustainable Development.There is no agreed definition of a Green Economy. However, it is generally agreed that a Green Economy shouldinclude low carbon emissions, resource efficiency and social inclusion. Low Carbon Emissions: Socially Inclusive: Resource Efficiency: Public and private industries Currently, wealth and Current forms of are partly responsible for income are not being consumption and production releasing dangerous levels of fairly distributed. A Green are rapidly depleting the carbon dioxide (CO2) into the Economy should provide fair natural resources available atmosphere. CO2 is known to access to social and on Earth. A clearly defined contribute to climate change. economic benefits. This Green Economy would In a Green Economy, these includes equal access to commit us to use natural industries would be required jobs, healthcare and resources in ways that to control their emissions. education. conserve them and over-exploit the Earth. Below are some additional principles which are necessary to create a Green Economy. Can you think of any others ?The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has offered some perspectives for policy makers on how totransition into a Green Economy. You can read more in Towards a Green Economy, a Synthesis Report: out the following UNCSD Major Group for Children and Youth infographic which looks at the puzzle piecesthat we need for a thriving Green Economy! The UNCSD Major Group for Children and Youth have called forthese elements to be recognised in the Outcome Document for Rio+20. 2
  4. 4. Creating Green Jobs for Young People According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. Over 75 million youth worldwide are currently looking for work. Millions of jobs in key sectors would need to transition into more sustainable practices within a Green Economy. These jobs would also directly benefit young people struggling to find employment. Building a Green Economy is especially relevant to children and youth. Future generations are more likely to face shortages of food, water and energy, if we continue to operate in the way that we do. Challenges of Key Economic Sectors  Food The population of the world is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050. Green agriculture has the potential of combating food insecurity as well as providing jobs.  Tourism Global tourism accounts for 5% GDP and about 8% of employment. Tourism also accounts for a large part of CO2 emissions and damages healthy ecosystems.  Industry Manufacturing is responsible for about 20% of CO2 emissions and 17% global air pollution! However, it also provides over 35% of global jobs.  Energy The energy sector is responsible for about 2/3 of global greenhouse gas emissions. Investing in renewable energy could help us avoid global temperature increases by reducing CO2 emissions. Facts and figures taken from: 1. Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication - A Synthesis for Policy Makers, UNEP - 2011. 2. Recommendations on Future Financing Options..., UNFCCC - 2009. Did you know? Economic growth is usually measured in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which often is used to represent well-being. total country income ÷ number of people in country = GDP per capita However, GDP does not consider the ecological and social consequences of producing wealth. Can you think of other indicators that can measure the success economy? Consider Gross National Happiness Index that measures the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well-being of people as factors to economic success: Want to learn more about efforts toward the transition of a Green Economy? Check out the Green Economy Coalition: picture. To keep up with the latest news on Green Economy progress, visit: .4
  5. 5. Using the Media as an Advocacy ToolMedia can be used for advocacy and/or lobbying to influence attitudes in society and policies. By Media we refer to:  Online and printed newspapers and/or magazines  Television  Social Media (including Blogs)  Photo-Journalism  Radio  Internet News  Independent Film and CinemaOne way to influence the media is to write a letter or article. The following points will help you write aneffective piece. How to Write a Letter or Article Make sure you are clear about who you are writing for. For example, if you are writing for a community which relies on agriculture, you may want to explain sustainability through community issues. Use terms which your audience will understand. Keep it short and concise. You are more likely to make an impact if you present short, simple facts. Avoid long sentences. Check if the platform you are writing for has a word limit and if so, stay within it. Make it relevant. Usually letters refer to a recent event or article. Choose a popular issue and make sure you connect why it is relevant and should be discussed. Label your submission clearly. Remember that newspapers receive a lot of mail, so if sending by post make sure to label your letter and envelope clearly. If sending via email, be sure to include a clear subject line. Stick to a single issue. Make the issue clear at the very beginning. It is easier to call for action over a specific issue than if you present a lot of them without much detail. Use facts and figures. Back up what you are saying with evidence. Make your conclusion strong. End the letter with the message that you want people to remember and act upon. Avoid using jargon and complicated language. This may prevent the reader from fully understanding your message. Proof read. Watch out for typing and grammatical errors. Have a friend read your article to see if he or she understands it. To put these letter writing tips into action, take a look at the sample letters on the next pages.5
  6. 6. Letter to a Local Store The following is a letter sent to a local gardening store. You could use this type of letter to convince local businesses to be more sustainable. Dear HOME/GARDEN STORE: I come to your store whenever I need anything for my home. I love your store, however, I have some real concerns about some of the products you are selling. I want to know what Im buying is safe for everyone, and I am hoping you can be a leader and a resource in this area. Did you know that homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on their crops? 70 million tons of fertilizers are applied to residential lawns and gardens. Where pesticides are used, of 103.9 million households with lawns, more than half use insecticides; 40 million use herbicides and 14 million use fungicides. Many conventional pesticides used on lawns pose threats to human health and wildlife. Clorphyrifos (Dursban) has been banned because it poses threats to childrens brain and nervous system development, and is still in store shelves! Pesticides from our lawns dont just stay outside, but end up in our indoor air and on all indoor surfaces, usually in the form of floor dust. Exposure to household pesticides is associated with an elevated risk of childhood leukemia. Not to mention, 95% of streams sampled contained at least one pesticide. Synthetic fertilizers spiked with nitrogen and phosphorous readily run off lawns or penetrate oversaturated soil, move into our ground water, storm drains and streams. Please consider providing non-toxic, organic land care products at the very least as an alternative to synthetic pesticides or fertilizers--in good conscience, it would be best if you offered only or primarily non- toxic products. Further, it would be great if you could carry home-building supplies and products made from rapidly renewable materials, such as bamboo flooring, natural linoleum, cork and textiles made from wool, sisal, hemp and organic cotton. I would choose those any day over the alternatives. If you make these strides, I can guarantee I will continue to come to your store, and proudly encourage everyone else to shop with you for those very reasons. Best regards, Your Name Your Address Your Email Address Your Phone Number6
  7. 7. Letter to an Editor This is a letter sent to a newspaper or magazine editor about an article that was written. What is the significant difference between this letter and the one on the previous page? Dear Editor: As the world examines the achievements and challenges towards eradicating HIV/AIDS on this World AIDS Day, we must take a critical look at the conflicting realities making women and girls vulnerable to the perpetual face of HIV/AIDS. Access to treatment is extending the lives of HIV-positive people in remarkable ways, and yet unwanted pregnancy among HIV-positive women is on the rise. While incidents of HIV are declining in some African regions, women continue to become infected through sexual transmission at alarmingly high rates. Unless steps are taken to address their HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health needs, women and girls will remain the unwilling victims of this deadly epidemic. Contrary to what some may think, marriage poses significant risk of HIV infection for women in many parts of the world. In fact, more than eighty percent of new HIV infections in women occur in marriage or in long-term relationships. Despite global recognition of the unique vulnerabilities of women and girls to HIV infection, U.S. HIV prevention policy continues to emphasize abstinence education ahead of tools, like condom use, that would better safe-guard women’s health. Tragically, it also has all but abandoned its 40 year leadership of support for international family planning. The vast amount of funding for HIV/AIDS prevention are rarely, if ever, integrated with family planning and reproductive health programs that pro- vide desperately needed services to women and their families. Only through financial and political support for the integration of HIV/AIDS and family planning services do we give women and girls a true chance at survival. That would be something to celebrate. Sincerely, Your Name Your Address Your Email Your Phone Number7
  8. 8. Creating your own Media Earlier, we discussed how to use media to spread the word about sustainability. Traditional media like newspapers, journals, news stations and radio are all important ways to get your message across. Often traditional media is not as far reaching as you may hope in getting out the message you want. The 20th Century boost of innovation in technology gave us social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Tumblr and many others. Social media has become just as important to spread a message as traditional media. Below are some tips to create your own media brand to add to the sustainability movement. Be Free Many advertising spaces on the Internet are free. Do a search on free spaces to blog, advertise and network so you can spread your message. If you are a youth without Internet access, you can start by visiting places where you can find many people gathering and talk to them there. Investigate Find out all you can about sustainability. Turn that information into a series of presentations that you can do in person and/or online. Both online and offline presentations should represent your personality! People are bound to become excited just because you are active and showing enthusiasm towards the subject. There may even be opportunities to learn from each other. Spark it Every good piece of media has what marketing executives call a “spark”. The spark is that great line that is brief, catchy and says a mouthful all in one. One example of a spark in sustainability is “Go Green”. Both words give you instant meaning and imply a change in behaviour. Much in the same way, your media should create its own spark. What is the one thing you can say that fits your personality and makes a statement about sustainability? Start brainstorming and let the sparks fly. Test out your spark first with friends and family before putting it out to the world. Extra insight is always helpful. Less is More Long, drawn out points are BOR-ING! Keep your points short, with 3-4 points per topic. If you choose to write a blog, keep it within 800-1000 words.8
  9. 9. Maximising your Impact through Social Media Using social media opens up the possibility of mobilising a lot of people beyond your circle of friends. It is important to make Sustainable Development concepts accessible and inspire people to take action. Focus your social media activity (such as tweets, Facebook updates and blogs) on a specific issue to raise awareness on a global platform. Social Media Tips Blogging Blogs can be a good source of communication for young people to talk Check out for fast tips to create your blog about Sustainable Development. Start by searching for similar blogs on the topic- what do you notice is missing in the conversation? You can Consider sharing your start your own blog once you figure out the perspective you would photo albums on popular platforms like SlideShare like to bring to the online communities you researched. Create short animated Photos movie messages with Images speak for themselves! A single photo can send out powerful messages that make people think. Try your photography skills, Create your own media campaign on create a Tumblr account. Videos Create short videos about Sustainable Development issues to raise awareness. Make sure that your video is appealing and enthusiastic. If you use special effects like animations and flash graphics for your video, make sure they do not overpower your message. For example, you should not use music, animation, flash graphics and talk all at the same time. Twitter Tweets are short messages of 140 characters or less, usually used to share messages publicly. Creating a twitter account is a fast way to send and receive messages about Rio+20. You can retweet from many other Twitter users who post about the conference. Follow the official conference twitter account @UN_Rioplus20 and hashtags #Rioplus20 and #mgcy to see what people are saying! Facebook Start a Facebook page, group or event. Tag your friends, update your status (maybe one Sustainable Development fact a day) and spread the message through your profile pictures. Create a photo album, share links, comment and “like” pages relevant to Sustainable Development. What about those who do not have Internet access? Every young person deserves to have his or her perspective on Sustainable Development heard. You can support youth that lack access to the Internet by sharing information with them in workshops and personal conversations. Record their message. What do youth without internet access have to say about Sustainable Development? Share their messages through your networks to add additional perspectives to your online conversations. Lack of Internet access should not be an obstacle in crafting our future!9
  10. 10. THANK YOU This completes the third section of our toolkit series. In our final installment, learn more about theInstitutional Framework for Sustainable Development and how to use The Arts to advocate for sustainability! 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) . Photo Credits: Oliver Rieche, Cynthia Keza and Vietnam Jump , Radomir Dolejsi, and Kyle Kaianaupuni Robertson.10