As a member of the Major Group for Children and Youth, the Human Impacts Instituteand our representative Mariana Orozco reports on youth and global environmental policy gearing up for Rio+20.
On November 1st,2011, over 500 submissions for the Rio+20 outcome document were received by the United Nations. The goal of these submissions is for diverse groups to voice their opinions as to what our governments will negotiate at the June 2012 Rio+20 conference. The over 6,000 pages of submissions will be reviewed by the Rio+20 Bureau and the Co-chairs and integrated into the initial draft—or “Zero Draft”–policy document for the conference. The input from all these documents will be discussed by UN Member States and non-governmental groups in New York in December, with negotiations due to being in January.
There are three key words underlying the outcomes of the Conference: Integration, Coherence and Implementation. Mr. Sha, Secretary General of the conference, has emphasized the notion of Rio+20 as an “Implementation Conference,” which should carry out all the objectives that were already agreed upon in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit. TheMGCY document emphasizes the urgency of implementing Agenda 21 and the Rio declaration – young generations no longer have the luxury of time.
Seven themes have been brought to the spotlight throughout the preparatory process:
jobs and social inclusion;
energy (access, efficiency and renewables);
agriculture and food security;
disaster preparedness and resilience;
As well as 4 potential outcomes:
Sustainable Development Goals: a possible transition to the Millennium Development Goals, which only weakly addresses sustainable development.
A Green Economy Roadmap: a guide for countries to transition by offering policy options as well as best practices and lessons learned.
Establishment of a Sustainable Development Council: a new, higher-level mechanism that is better integrated across sectors.
A strengthened United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) submission addresses all of these issues, focused on the perspective that “youth and children are the building blocks of a sustainable future.” Of particular relevance to youth, unemployment is considered of urgent importance.
According to the MGCY, this global problem should be addressed by the creation of “green jobs”. This means training young people must with the skills and knowledge to participate in a sustainable world, in both rural and urban areas. Education is also highlighted as paramount for youth. The MGCY calls for Education on Sustainable Development to be integrated into the basic curricula, and the importance of “non-formal” learning and peer education. The group also calls for the creation of a “Global Technology Sharing Facility”, which would make it easy to share know-how and best practices.
At the governance level, the MGCY is advocating for the establishment of “Ombudspersons for Future Generations,” independent institutions that would focus on long-term impacts of policies; as well as an office of the UN High Commissioner for Future Generations, which would work as an advisory and help establish intergenerational accountability, analyzing future harmful effects.
In the push for implementation, the MGCY supports the establishment of a World Environmental Court. Something that is key for the youth is intergenerational justice – recognizing that Rio+20 must account for the futures of the generations that are being born now, and those of the future.
If you are interested in reading the whole document from the Major Group of Children and Youth, or of any other Major Group or Nations State, including the Human Impacts Institute’s submission, you can view them here.
By Mariana Orozco, 2011 Human Impacts Institute Environmental Leadership Intern