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Something really big and extremely important is happening!
From 13th -22nd June 2012, thousands of negotiators, ambassadors, civil society movement, children & youth, business sector, delegates and heads of state will meet in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to discuss the world’s future at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development.
This conference can be considered as the most important one in the history of the United Nations so far.
I hear you asking “What is so important about this meeting?”
Sustainable development is growth that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
In 1992, Rio was the stage for the first Earth Summit, where it was recognized that human actions and the way humans had been organizing the world was causing severe inequality and harm to the planet. It became urgent to make sustainable development a priority to secure the survival of the planet.
Twenty years on, a lot of positive changes have taken place, but it’s not enough. A lot of things still need fixing. This means that strong decisions need to be taken at Rio in June.
Everyone should participate in making those decisions happen because the decisions taken in Rio this June will have an impact on how the world will be and on the future of young people across the world.
“Rio+20 will be one of the most important global meetings on sustainable development in our time. It is a historic opportunity to define pathways to a sustainable future – a future with more jobs, more clean energy, greater security and a decent standard of living for all”, says the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
Sustainable development is more than just caring about the environment or generating money through economic growth. It is the intersection of THREE pillars: ENVIRONMENT, ECONOMY and SOCIETY.
When we think of sustainable development, we must think of a system, where the decisions taken ensure that each component of the system—man, trees, environment, society, wealth—is capable of flourishing without hindering the capacity of the other component to do so, whether in the present or in the future.
Sustainable development talks about balance and a holistic approach to development. This means that some things need to be preserved and sustained while others should be given the incentive to be developed.
What needs to be sustained? • People and Cultures • Natural Resources • Biodiversity • Environment and Ecosystems
What needs to be developed? • Quality of Life • Justice and Social Equality • Equal Opportunity • Institutions • Fair Income • Culture of Sustainability
The approach towards sustainable development requires us to consider that everything is interconnected across generations and across countries.
You’re probably thinking: “What is my role in Sustainable Development?”
Most of us will not be able to travel to Rio. However, the most important decision makers are us and the most important stakeholder is YOU! Sustainable development is not just for politicians to handle—as young people, we inherit the consequences of the decisions taken now. This is why it is important for each of us to think globally, act locally and raise our voice. Every action counts.
You can push policy makers to make decisions that protect your future. You can demand better jobs, cleaner cities, more equal sharing of resources. Above all, you can push policy makers to guarantee a secure future full of opportunities, a pleasant world to live in and a healthy planet.
Sustainable development is especially important for young people. The sustainable development policies implemented today determine the future we will inherit. By advocating for sustainable development and adopting sustainable practices, you are actively participating in shaping your own future.
Youth have an official voice on sustainable development at the United Nations, specifically in the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and the Rio+20 Earth Summit through the Major Group of Children and Youth (MGCY). The MGCY is made up of organisations and young individuals who care about the sustainability of our planet and actively want to participate in shaping the future.
As young people from Pacific, our opinions & leadership in sustainability matters as well. Project Survival Pacific works to provide a platform for Pacific youth to get involved in sustainability at a local level; share their ideas; tell their stories and voice their opinions.
The challenge is to devise policies which balance economic growth, environmental protection, and social equality. Pacific Consciousness, that is, the need to think about others and view our contributions as part of a system, is required to shape development policies achieve goals that are beneficial to each of us and our planet.
Join us and let’s get moving towards a future we want because our future is worth it!
Krishneil Narayan is the Executive Director of Project Survival Pacific. Project Survival Pacific is a youth environmental organization based in Fiji that works to safeguard the survival of the Pacific island people from the impacts of climate change and to promote sustainable development within the Pacific.