As the official Rio+20 conference began and the heads of state arrived to finish the work that their delegations had been struggling to complete over the past few weeks, there were significantly fewer opportunities for civil society to engage in the process. While some became frustrated, a group of youth chose to take the increased free time to converge, network, and see how they can support each other’s projects post-Rio.About fifty youth and those who are youthful in spirit came out to a small meet-up put together by Adam Hasz of SustainUS. Held in the courtyard withinRio Centro, activities included “speed dating” – giving everyone the opportunity to catch up with friends and learn about personal interests outside of the Rio Centro walls – and to even meet some new friends. Afterwards, everyone wrote their name and their post-Rio+20 plans on sticky notes and then organized them into groups according to relevance. This broke down the larger group into smaller factions where the conversations were easy to come due to the common interests of the people involved.
As the text became weaker and the commitments less inspiring, it became evident that the true work for a sustainable planet has only begun. It will be up to the youth of today to take on the challenge and find the solutions for today’s problems and the many that are sure to come in the near future.
This event, dubbed ‘Youth Fiesta Collaboration,’ was meant to create a space for young people attending Rio+20 to genuinely connect with others. This filled an important and pressing need; overall, there were very few spaces for youth to genuinely connect at Rio. The countless side events and workshops provided little opportunity for us to participate, or to contribute our own passions and experiences. By creating collaborative groups based on specific shared interests, such as Youth Fiesta, we hope that the established relationships for which this experience created a platform, will continue beyond Rio+20 and help to support our work in the years to come.
By Brendan Schoenman, 2012 Human Impacts Institute Environmental Leadership Intern