UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s words, “When I say make some noise, I mean raise your voices. Demand real action.” are the guidelines that the young people have been following at Rio+20. The youth seems to be out to prove that they are not just mere presences but effective stakeholders who are trying to influence their country delegations by consistently picking up issues, educating their representatives and lobbying around these points.
To say that the youth have suddenly appeared on the Rio+20 radar without doing their homework would be grossly incorrect. It seems that the youth have been strategically organizing themselves over the past few years through google list-serves and online meetings to prepare themselves for the negotiations.
Closer to Rio+20, MyCity+20 is a colourful example of a campaign, which was organized locally by the young people across the globe in cities like Hidalgo, Kinshasa, Sao Paolo, Dhaka, New York, Mexico City, Kathmandu, Paris etc. to help mobilize and educate the youth on sustainable development issues. These events also helped to encourage the youth living locally to understand and involve themselves in the negotiation processes of Rio+20.
The Dutch youth took their zeal to push their government even further by asking students, adolescents and young professionals to send a cake to their Prime Minister, Mark Rutte with their tweet message “DUS RUTTE NAAR RIO”. They were not able to convince him to promise his presence despite the incessant efforts, which included presenting him with money collected from young people to provide him with airfare to reach Rio. However, their efforts were not wasted. He has promised the official Dutch youth delegates a lunch to get an overview of Rio+20 from their perspective.
Youth Blast in Rio was organized by the brazillian youth with some international voluntary groups prior to the actual negotiation meetings. It helped orient the youth towards the negotiations and resulted in the formulation of an official document that has been submitted for Agenda 21 discussions.
During the preparatory meetings, which will feed in the text for the government heads and representatives to discuss during the actual summit dates, the young people seem to be working in two ways: by urging their delegations to decide on text that would be progressive and by organizing creative events/actions. Examples of the former working method would be interventions made due to their meaningful participation. They have successfully been able to influence some countries to change their positions from “flexible” to “retain” with regard to green jobs as well as get ¨non-formal education¨ included in the text. Though, the countries change their stances faster than the weather changes in Rio these interventions speak of youth interest and desire for change. These meaningful additions are also recognized by countries, who specially raise these concerns at points of disagreements to underline that they encourage public participation of young people and other civil society members.
Rio Fossil is a good example of a direct action where the later method of working is applied. A young person from the country who might have blocked progressive negotiations tends to get the award. This can cause a little concern and quite a lot of change in the text due to creative liberties that the young organizers take in making a country infamous. Other actions like flash mobs and peaceful blocking of the negotiating hall doors such that the leaders cannot leave until something concrete is decided are some of the creative ideas being floated to spice up the slow process.
Nora Mahmoud working with the Earth Charter International says, “Rio+20 doesn’t mean the end. Actions will continue and we will use this as a platform to become stronger. ”
This reflects the tenacity with which the youth has been preparing themselves so much so that there is a Post Rio Dialogue item on their agenda too. This would include the activities that the youth should be involved in after Rio+20. A process of measuring youth participation and its effectiveness is also being worked upon by some of the youth organizations, for future reference, in their efforts to prove their worthiness to be involved in the UN processes.
This post is the first version of the article published by AlertNet which can be accessed through this link: http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/youth-blast-rio20-deal-as-pathetic/
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s words, “When I say make some noise, I mean raise your voices. Demand real action.” are…Read post →
This place is chaotically powerful. I mean there are so many things which are happening parallelly that it is difficult to keep a track and give an overview of Rio+20. People believe that the number of issues which are there on the tables along with the number of places these are being individually discussed dilutes the essence of Rio+20.
There are people who discuss these articles and sections as if they have been reciting these from their childhood while I feel pretty lost in this thick jungle of more than 50,000 people who have gathered for this conference. I sometimes wish that I had clones such that a few of them would sit simultaneously in some of the negotiation rooms where topics of my interest like gender, climate change and green economy were being discussed while one clone would be dedicated to researching at a reference library.
The negotiations are as unpredictable as the weather in Rio. On a morning when you see the sun shining bright, you decide to give the umbrella a miss only to realise when you reach Rio Centro that it has started drizzling. Similarly, just when you think that the negotiated text can’t go weaker than this, everything changes, new clauses are introduced.
Oh! a quick primer for everyone who does not know what the UN lingo with regard to the negotiations could mean: retain means to keep text, delete means to remove the text that is bracketted and reserve means that to be decided later. Generally, the people occupying the floor for speaking out aloud and making a stand are US, Canada, EU (all European Union countries negotiate as a bloc (I haven´t seen them disagreepublically on the negotiating tables though they do chime in individually fro time to time), Switerland, G77 (the largest Third World coalition provides the developing world to enhance its joint negotiating capacity on all major international issues) and the Holy See (the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome).
At the informal sessions of the negotiations which took plce between the 13-15th June, 2012 Holy See managed to kick quite a storm so much so that people questioned their participatory Rights if not aloud then at least in their minds. While I questioned the G77 (negotiated by Indonesia) stand specially as the block does not always have a consensus position on the text. Where were the voices from countries like India when people on the negotiatig table supported every ammendment proposed by the Holy See and in addition proposed the deletion of the following language in the Health Section:
• Delete “full” implementation of ICPD (International Conference on Popultion Development) and Beijing.
• Delete human rights of women and add men and children because women are not a specific category.
• Right of adolescents to decide freely and responsibly on matters relating to their sexuality (delete adolescents, replace with youth, delete sexuality, keep Sexual Reproductive Health).
• The Holy See stated that the CPD Outcome Document was not the reflection of international consensus but “only a commission of the UN”.
I have to question the Indian stand because we are the second most populated country in the world. We have been rated worst country in G20 to be a woman and yet we let such text crop up at the International negotiating tables? Do governments like playing games with us by shaking us up through such debacles and test our tenacity or do they just do not want to move on instead of backwards in terms of International stands? Don´t the governmental reps understand that it is their duty towards us, the citizens of their countries to get productive results from such gatherings such that a tax payers money is not spent supporting them wastefully in such expensive places?
Thank goodness for the engagement of civil society. It seems that they did a good job of lobbying and persuaded the G77 to not support the Vatican’s stand on sexual reproductive health. SRH might seem like a unimportant topic for this conference, with its focus on all kinds of issues related to the environment, economics and social development, but it isn’t. Maria de Bruyn of Ipas is of the view, “When women and young people are able to better control their reproductive health and have autonomous decision-making about their sexual and reproductive lives, they are also in a better position to take advantage of opportunities offered by a green economy and to deal with environmental challenges” and it seems that view is supported by many studies done by Population Action International.
The policy lingo for anyone who would like to check what the stands made were at the negotiating table such that text could be given to the Brazillian government for collation such that it could be discussed at the High Level government representative meeting next week:
Gender 7 was ‘agreed ad ref’ today and the Health 8 (Health and population) had a new language referenced from ECOSOC 2009 para 16, proposed by G77. The new text was adopted by all delegation while the Holy See registered their deep reservation.
Gender 7 is something we will discuss another time specially because it talks abt gender mainstreaming in accordance with the national legislation and policies >think about countries where there are no gender policies(!!)< but other than that it is good to see that if we haven’t moved ahead on the path of development, at least we have been able to (somewhat) remain at the same place that we have earned over the past 20 years or more (!!) during the Prep Meeting of Rio+20.
This post is a tweaked version of the post on www.amplifyyourvoice.org.
This place is chaotically powerful. I mean there are so many things which are happening parallelly that it is difficult…Read post →
Youth Blast is the place one should visit if you want to learn about concepts (old and new, abstract and concrete). This is the time when there will be multiple events with (generally) young people conducting small workshops in spaces where their soft voices might not always be heard but their passion is. While running around the venue and trying to choose a workshop, people (young and old) end up attending sessions that would increase their knowledge quotient or give them an opportunity to advocate as well as mobilize people.
One such workshop which I happened to peep in on when it was about to conclude was being led by a very passionate young lady, Louise. She was leading this discussion on ECOCIDE. I had heard of the concept but was hazy on details so meeting Louise was a boon. She allowed me to dig a bit deeper and understand the concept. She also speaks of what they aim for through their presence at Rio+20.
(Thanks to Seb for the camera and Chris for being the cameraman)
The words ‘Rio De Janeiro’ for a film student would bring to mind rushes from the film “City of God”.
The race sequence where one runs for survival, the unfolding of the story in retrospect because we are all a part of a one sided narrative that the main character experiences and only when one looks back in time with the collective vision of the director do we see the connections rather than disjointed events and of course, the sense of self-discovery which overwhelms one and all at the end.
Well, I might not be here to make a film (only history) but all the three points are pretty relevant and run parallel to what I envision, feel and expect out of Rio+20. Indians expect everything to have a hidden meaning and I am no different. On a personal level, I have been running around to make this “moment in history” happen. I mean, after locking up your guilt of the number of carbon footprints you are spending to attend a conference and concentrating only on the excitement one feels on attending a global (UN) event that would affect global governance, policy and “aam aadmi” (ordinary man) alike.
Rio+20 could mean (“could” being the operative word) a concrete framework for a faster transition to a sustainable world or maybe recognizing that monetary elements should take a back seat while abstract elements like happiness should start playing a bigger role such that people start recognizing the threat called “climate change” as real and caring about Mother Earth.
Uh! Uh! There I begin again. It is the young person in me which starts clamouring to seek attention such that people are pushed to think, act (now) and race for our survival.
And trust me, I am not the only one. More than 650 young people who met at the Youth Blast (fancy name for a fancy event at a fancy place with fancy food where everyone carries fancy (i)devices which might get stolen specially because equity, a principle of sustainable development is still nowhere in sight! Hence proved, we need to work harder to bring about the change) tried to do the same.
However, I am being the actor right now and you, my dear reader are just seeing the world through my eyes.
The eyes which ignore the fact that these young people voluntarily worked for months to make this event come to life. The grandness (of course) was added by the government which has to prove that it is capable of hosting such events better than anyone else could. (Ah! The competitive spirit…governments everywhere are alike.) So, the blogger/actor of this film called Rio+20 obviously will only critically see the events in segregation, the director has to step in for a deeper perspective.
A perspective, which cannot be unbiased (unfortunately as “main samay nahi hoon” or I am not time) but will be coloured by the background, environs and events that unfold over the next couple of weeks. A perspective which will become clearer as the observation of the struggle for a sustainable world is made by the stakeholder who will ultimately walk the path of self-discovery.
About the authorRoli Mahajan
Roli is an editor, activist and journalist living in India. She has worked as videographer for the MacArther Foundation; she was an International Year of Youth Journalist at UNFCCC conferences in Cancun and Durban; and she is a Rio+20 Fellow.