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During the last days of the Youth Blast, we discussed an array of topics ranging from policy strategies for Rio+20 and post-Rio activities. The youth who attended the event sought the opportunity to answer an important question: What will be the future of the youth movement if Rio+20 fails? Only 37 percent of the text has been agreed on so far and young people are starting to worry about the fact that failure might be a reality.
First, what we would do if Rio+20 fails? Despite the negative pessimist nature of the question, Rio+20 will be a success in many ways. We will still be young people the morning after the summit; we will still care about the same issues that drove us to Rio de Janeiro; and if Rio+20 fails, we should use the opportunity to recharge our passions and to understand that the real change lies within civil society.
There is a shared sentiment that the main legacy and outcome of Rio+20 will not be a robust and binding document. The legacy of Rio+20 will be a strong platform for exchanging ideas and the creation of new partnerships that will define the future of Sustainable Development. Many of these partnerships will be developed through newfound alliances between international youth leaders.
Not everybody was as calm when discussing the outcomes of Rio+20. During the closing ceremony of the Youth Blast, Mr Sha Zukang,
the Secretary General of Rio+20, expressed his concerns about the lack of progress in the negotiations. His “call to war” included an invitation to lock down the negotiators in a room until they agree on an outcome document during the last day of the conference. Although I do not agree with his statements, I do understand the frustrations of the Secretary General. However, we as youth also have another responsibility in promoting change beyond the negotiation halls of Riocentro.
Sustainable development should not be dependent of binding treaties or trade agreements. We should all strive to live in a world where we can be safe and healthy in a world where the air we breathe is clean and where the water that we drink is safe.
As civil society, we have come up with innovative ways to promote sustainable development. From using social media to spread knowledge, to the creation of small-scale renewable energy schemes, everyday members of civil society are winning the battle for sustainable development.
We should not need a treaty that reminds/tells/dictates that a change is need in our lives. During the hallway conversations with some delegates, we concurred that one of the main achievements of Rio+20 was the discussion of important issues such as upgrading the UN Environmental Programme, Sustainable Development Goals, and the Ombudsperson for Future Generations. The fact that these kind of innovative proposals are being discussed by Member States is an achievement for the environmental community.
I began writing this post with the intention of giving an overview of the past two days. However, I believe it is important for everyone that is following the event to take a step back and remember the reasons that brought us to Rio+20: an undying will to promote solutions for improving processes and tools in order to forge a better world.
This blog post was written by Olimar Maisonet-Guzman of SustainUS, a youth organization for sustainable development. This entry reflects the author’s personal judgments and does not represent the views of the United States Government or the Department of State.