Youth Charge Ahead with Global Environmental Leadership at the “Youth Blast!”

On Sunday, May 1st, 2011, to kick off its’ involvement with2011 United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-19), the Human Impacts Institute(Hii) participated in the “Youth Blast” by the Major Group for Children and Youth. Over forty youth from around the world spent all day organizing lobby and focal points for the coming weeks on this year’s CSD issues of a 10-year Framework on Sustainable Consumption and Production, Transportation, Waste Management, Chemicals, and Mining.

Hii brought sixteen NYC high school students from our three-part Environmental Leadership training with the LIFTT program to the Youth Blast to learn about the CSD process, meet international youth leaders from around the world, and to give input into proposed global environmental policy. These students represented all five boroughs and brought their diverse heritage and experience to the room. In addition to this, five of the Human Impacts Institute’s staff and interns participated in the Youth Blast, some of whom took leadership positions in break-out sessions and development of policy texts such as the “opening statement” for the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY). It was a fun day, filled with brainstorming, discussion, and hard work. Nothing can be boring when you bring excited and motivated youth together to fight for their futures!


The MGCY has divided up into six focus groups around the themes of the conference, as well as “interlinkages”, which looks at cross-cutting themes amongst the policy issues. This way, each participant can be fully involved in fighting for the issue that is most important to them. During the two-week CSD-19, representatives from each group will develop policy strategies, lobby country delegates, report on proceedings, and engage youth from around the world–both in attendance at the conference and via online collaborative processes. Hii has a representative in each thematic group that will be active throughout the conference.

It is a remarkable thing to see the young people of our planet joining forces to lobby the UN for more actions toward sustainability. As nearly half of the population of the world, they have a vested interest in the decisions made at CSD-19, and in planning for their own futures. As stated in the Major Group for Youth and Children’s carefully drafted opening statement, they “are here not only to be seen, but to be heard.” Such determination is what gives the youth of the world their drive forward in CSD-19, and their hope for the generations to come.

Stay tuned for more updates on this year’s CSD process from the Human Impacts Institute team!

by Kate Offerdahl, 2011 Human Impacts Institute Environmental Leadership Intern and Tara DePorte, Human Impacts Institute Founder and Executive Director

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