Posts filed under ‘RIO+20’

What do the Youth Want from Rio+20?

With the United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development just around the corner, different groups are doing their best to make sure their agendas for Rio+20 are heard. While there are some interesting agendas out there, I wish to focus on the youth agenda for Rio+20. In the past, youth were often mistaken for being lazy and uninterested in what is going on around them. However, the reality was that the youth lacked the opportunity to participate since many people did not believe in them.

That was of course until the preparations for the Rio+20 conferences began and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon specifically asked the youth to bring “dynamic new ideas, fresh thinking and energy to the Rio+20 process.” In addition, Mr. Ban on 17th May 2012 asked the youth to “make some noise” so as to speed up negotiations ahead of the conference as he was disappointed that the negotiations were not moving fast enough. Click here to read Ban Ki Moon’s speech in full. A United Nations Major Group of Children and Youth was formed so as to act the official voice of young people in sustainability negotiations.

Taking up Mr. Ban Ki Moon’s invitation to participate in the Rio+20 process, the youth, through the Major Group for Children and Youth have spoken up about what they are hoping to gain from Rio+20. The youth want:

  • Sustainable food systems which produce adequate and healthy food for everyone.
  • Elimination of harmful subsidies in agriculture, energy and fisheries
  • A reduction in unemployment. Governments need to create green jobs which will help to reduce youth unemployment
  • Support for education for sustainable development. This includes integrating Education for Sustainable Development into formal learning and supporting non-formal methods of Education for Sustainable Development.
  • Involved of all relevant stakeholders in environmental conservation
  • Promotion of sustainable use of water resources
  • Promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency
  • Sustainably planned cities
  • Improved national healthcare systems
  • Sustainable tourism which encourages community participation.

Make you voice heard today at Rio+20 by voting for the future you want at Also, check out what Ban Ki Moon has said about the future he wants.

Book mark this blog because in the next days, we shall be giving you real time information on what is happening at the Rio+20 conference.

June 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment

My World on Earth: voices from the favela in Rio+20

Following several months of an online survey, where 2000 youth were asked to indicate the most important challenges for humanity today, an open debate was organized in the heart of Favela Babilônia, Rio de Janeiro. The discussion organized by ICA – Information, Knoweldge & Attitude, was designed to stimulate youth to critically reflect on their daily actions and their impacts on the environment. Opinions, attitudes, and a resolution to be delivered to heads of states.

I was there, and had the opportunity to open a discussion about our food choices and how they impact the society, the economy and the planet. Watch the video here.

June 12, 2012 at 11:34 pm Leave a comment

The food shed- or why the Young Organics already save the world!

by Zoe Heuschkel

On June 5th the President  of Germany kicked off the “Week of the Environment” in “his garden” at Schloss Bellevue in Berlin. But I could see neither much  of a garden or much of environment.

The reason for my participation was that our project about the Future of Food had been invited to host an expert forum on sustainable agriculture in the scope of the Rio+20 summit.

The food shed

By far the most intriguing presentation was given once again by Vandana Shiva. She talked about an idea that came up in the late 1920´s and translated it into our time: the “food shed” theory. In 1929 Walter P. Hedden published the book “How great cities are fed” where he discusses the necessity of big cities to feed their inhabitants by using resources from the surrounding areas. Today, Vandana Shiva pointed out, there seems to be a strong relation between the size of a city and the distance food is travelling before it reaches the city:  “the bigger the city, the longer the travel” she said. Why do we eat food that has been transported  for 10.000km instead of tapping into local suppliesVandana suggested tocreate more self-sufficiency and “food sheds” that would not see food come from into the city from far away.

How Young Organics already save the world

Our gardening plot in Bonn will not feed the city, it  hardly can supply enough food for all the gardeners, but it it is a sign. Sustainability issues are  negotiated in Rio or elsewhere, and the message is clear: we need to take over  responsibility: for our own consumption, for the planet and for future generations. Young Organics gardening fits into a global pattern of people’s actions related to take over responsibility for our own nutrition. We might not be gardening experts, farmers or horticulturists and sometimes we get overwhelmed by slugs, rabbits and other uninvited guests, but we want to take on responsibility for our food system.

We get in touch with the soil again, we gain and share experiences and learn while aiming to contribute to a more sustainable future of the planet. We meet and exchange, enjoy and work together and maybe someday  we will be able to feed ourselves. And make our peace with the slugs.

What did I learn?

1)      If you want to get your seats filled- invite Vandana Shiva for your event

2)      We need to make peace with our planet. The struggle for the survival of the fittest species has ended and if we continue fighting we will eradicate ourselves from the planet.

3)      It is time to accept that we are responsible for our nutrition. We can not continue to simply hand over all decisions on how our food is produced.

We live in a wonderful and terribly crazy world – instead of being terrible we should focus on being wonderfully crazy!

June 12, 2012 at 8:21 pm Leave a comment

The relationship between UNEP and Youth is a logical one

Environmental problems today are much more prominent than 20 years ago.  Climate change, erosion of biodiversity and genetic resources, depletion of soil and water resources, desertification and natural disasters are just a few to name. They are all coming towards us at the same time, in rates that no-one can predict. Most importantly, they impact more the poorest and most marginalized parts of the society.

It is crucial that the Rio+20 Conference renews its interest about the environment as the driving force for sustainable development. To this, the United Nations Environment Programme needs to obtain a more central role in decision making, hence getting the mandate to move forward with its plans for a Green Economy.

Naturally, “the relationship between UNEP and Youth is a logical one”, as UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said while addressing youth delegates from every corner of the world in the Youth Blast Conference of Youth for Rio+20.

I met Achim Steiner for an exclusive interview. Watch it on video here.

June 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm Leave a comment

Expectations from Rio+20

Thousands of people from governments, civil society, the private sector and other groups coming together in Rio+20, one of the most important conferences in the history of the United Nations. The environmental challenges are greater today than 20 years ago, and the question remains whether political leaders will manage to commit to the necessary concrete actions. The expectations are low, as many rich nations are battling with  financial crisis and a production-consumption system that seems to have reached its limits in a great part of the world.
I met Jonathan Watts at the campus of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro at the Forum on Science, Technology & Innovation for Sustainable Development. In this interview, Watts reflects on expectations from the Rio+20 process, and provides interesting insights on the necessary transition to sustainability.

With a decade of experience as Asia Environment Correspondent for the Guardian, Jonathan Watts is in Rio as freshly appointed Latin America Correspondent. An influential author, with his latest book When a Billion Chinese Jump exploring the leadership role of emerging new global powers like China.

June 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm Leave a comment

The Future we want is Organic

Rio+20 is already providing a vehicle for civil society organisations to form new alliances with governments, agencies, businesses and each other. With governments of the developed world being in massive debt there will be very little new money on the table in Rio. However, Rio has the potential to be a massive catalyst for sustainable development, just as Copenhagen was for climate change.

Of course, like in Copenhagen, politicians might fail to see beyond strict GDP figures and the undue influence of powerful lobbies. However, this conference is an one-in-a-generation opportunity for organisations from all over sectors and from every corner of the world to come together and plant the intellectual seeds that will mainstream sustainability at all levels: from policy making to our everyday lives.

The food movement, and youth in particular, have a unique opportunity to catch this new wave and position sustainable agriculture at the centre of the agenda.

I am in Rio+20 as a youth reporter for Young Organics and I will be mainstreaming sustainability to youth networks around the world. Follow me on twitter @geopavlos under the hashtags #YORio & #IFOAMrio

June 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm 1 comment

Young Organics Rio+20 bloggers depart to Rio

Grace and Pavlos, the two Young Organics bloggers are prepared to start their journey. Pavlos will join the UN Youth Blast Conference from 7th of June. Grace will follow later to join in on IFOAM sessions from 12th of June.
We cross fingers for their preparations and the journey!
You will find their blogposts here soon.

June 5, 2012 at 10:16 pm Leave a comment

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