I admire my friends from the Major Group of Children and Youth, one of the 9 United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development Major Groups (ie. global civil society stakeholders). These groups went to Rio+20 in the hopes of salvaging something, ANYTHING useful out of those deliberations. Rio+20 was supposed to set an international agreement for improving the health and long-term security of Earth’s Systems via sustainable development, supporting human and natural communities now and into the future. Instead, the the so-called “greening solutions” for the global economy were condemned by civil society.
The youth reported that hundreds of non-governmental delegates walked out of the conference, returning their badges in a symbolic act of protest. Led by members of the climate change action movement and youth organizations, their message was “Walk Out, Not Sell Out!” Some shouted, “The Future We Want is not here!” contradicting the official UN document, “The Future We Want.” Bolivian President Evo Morales, called the direction “a new colonialism” that rich nations seek to impose on developing countries.
I had the pleasure of working with many of these young people directly during two Commission For Sustainable Development Conferences and at the Cancun Climate Talks, and i can say with certainty, the world will be in better, more unifying hands in the not too distant future. However, current and coming disasters they are inheriting are cause for major concern. The Youth’s brilliant Closing Statement tells it all.
Civil society and the Major Groups have done solid preparatory work over the past 20 years, and Rio+20 would have had a very different outcome if the MG’s had been allowed or been able to claim leadership roles at the UN over the past decade. Instead, the Youth along with the rest of the 9 Major Groups — Indigenous People, Farmers, Women, Union Workers, NGOs, Local Authorities, Science and Technology, Business and Industry — have become more and more side-lined during international conferences. As armed security escalates, the voice of the people gets pushed farther to the margins, and the stakeholders of the world get more and more frustrated and angry… and the vicious cycle continues.
Rather than be crushed by the dismal reception from the world’s governments, the Youth continued their networking and alliance building through the People’s Summit, an event parallel to the formal talks. Occupying Rio+20, the People’s Summit organized for the mighty struggle ahead, to reclaim a saner, more just, sustainable and cooperative international directive.
The following is a note from Kiara Worth, MGCY Delegate, working with the Youth as a youth and artist-educator for some years now… Sent on the last day of Rio+20. Kiara was selected to read the Youth Closing Statement, June 22.
Here is the link to the Major Group Children and Youth Closing Statement
It is worth noting that the Youth were not allowed to read this Closing Statement in an official capacity, and so they read it outside the plenary hall as the official delegates exited the talks. Please share widely so all will hear it regardless:-)