Thursday, May 31, 2012

PHOTO Story: #Stockholm+40

Speaking at the Third High Level Panel on Sustainable Living. #YoungPeopleRights #OccupyNigeria

With the Honorable Maurice Strong  UN 1992 Rio Earth Summit Secretary-General and Earth Charter Mentor  . 
Sir Maurice Strong is a man I have admired from far when I get involved with the Earth Charter Network, a group he inspired.. I had hoped to see him at the Earth Charter+10 Anniversary at the Peace Palace in the Hague, but that wasn't the case. I finally met him at Stockholm+40. You could only Imagine who happy I was.  

“Youth are those with more dreams than memories, which is why they are the leaders of the revolution for sustainable development” – Maurice Strong, UNEP’s first Executive Director at the closing ceremony for Stockholm+40.

What About A World Run by Women?

The Future I Want for My Great Grandchildren

Achieving global sustainability: The Elders in conversation with young global leaders
PAI Atlas Fellow, Esther Agbarakwe meets with the Elders in Oslo. Photo Credit: Jeff Moore | The Elders
Nelson Mandela once said that, ‘‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.” The world has been discussing sustainable development way before I was born. Now we have a chance to set our feet on the ground, to unite our voice, and take things more seriously. No more “business as usual” – not with 7 billion people on earth and many still living in poverty.
Last week, I traveled to Oslo, Norway to join a team of amazing global leaders who have dedicated their time to making the world a safer and sustainable place to live. I was invited as one of four “Youngers” to meet with The Elders, an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights. Our job is to call on the heads of government, and all individuals, to begin urgent dialogue on sustainable development.
At a panel titled Achieving Global Sustainability – The Elders in Conversation with Young Global Leaders, I joined Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chair of The Elders; Gro Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and member of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Sustainability Panel and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Elders reaffirmed the need to strongly consider the social dimension of sustainable development: poverty, food security, and women’s access to voluntary family planning. Women’s’ and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights is about equality, and women play an important role in development. Gro Bruntdland asked: “What about a world run by women?”
Then it was time for the “Youngers” to present their vision for “The Future We Want.” For me, when I think about the kind of world I want for my great, great grandchildren, my heart is heavy. I reflect on what is happening around us, how women suffer so much to take care of their children, how many women badly want to space their children, how they want the right to determine how and when to have children without losing their lives in the process.
We have overly exaggerated the promise of our children’s future. We tell them they “are the future” without explaining in concrete terms what that means. We don’t provide the ecological, social and financial order and discipline that will result in a better world.
What does the future that I want look like? I want a world where girls have to right to school first before marriage. A world with equality for women and girls, where young people are consulted and truly involved in governance process at local, national and global levels.
This is what I want from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) next month in Rio. This is the vision that I asked the Elders to extend to heads of country delegations during Rio+20.

From Stockholm to Rio. Again!!

The relationship between economic development and environmental degradation was first placed on the international agenda in 1972, at the UN Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm. The Rio Earth Summit was held in 1992

Earlier this year in April, I was invited by the Swedish  Government (Lena Ek,  Swedish Minister for the Environment and Gunilla Carlsson Minister for International Development Cooperation) to participate and speak at the one of the High level panel on Sustainable Living  during  the Stockholm+40 Partnership Forum on Sustainable Development in Sweden, an event that marked the historical 40th anniversary of the first UN Conference on Human environment held in 1972 in Stockholm as well as a preparatory meeting for the UN Rio+20 Conference At the event  500 participants - young people, researchers, decision-makers and representatives of the business community and civil society from 72 countries - had the opportunity to meet , listen to and participate in panel discussions, seminars, workshops and not the least conversations during the breaks. Young people were seen as an integral part in moving towards a more sustainable society.

But this conferences isn’t enough. We need a more radical change in moving forward as the ‘old way’ of doing things hasn’t helped. This radical change must also start inwards as well as at  local and national levels.

The Occupy movement and the Arab Spring have thoughts us so many things. My country Nigeria last year witnessed a transformation in the electoral process when young people rallied around and where effectively engaged in the electoral processes from mobilization, to civic education to monitoring of the elections as citizen journalists and as voters. We were involved, and we even made getting involved fun. We saw for the first time what the power of young people combined with access to technology and information can lead to the radical change we all so desired. 

Rio+20: The 20th Anniversary of the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

"Next June, the United Nations will gather in Rio for one of the most important meetings in its history. Young people can and must play a central role in bringing dynamic new ideas, fresh thinking and energy to the Rio+20 process. We should all work to engage them and ensure that their voices are heard." ~UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon

we believe that youths are the greatest resource on earth and should be empowered to have say in defining their future. As the world population reached 7 billion in October, Young people are becoming more socially aware of issues and are making a difference. Now, more than ever, young people are in need of comprehensive family planning and reproductive health services which will better empower them for the future. When women are empowered to plan and space their children, they are better able to adapt to world’s challenges including climate change and ensure the survival of their families

In 1992, world leaders recognized the vital role that youth play in contributing to the process of Sustainable Development with the adoption of Agenda 21. Twenty years later, young people should and will be present again in Rio de Janeiro, at the conference dubbed Rio+20, in order to strengthen their profile as The moral stakeholderwhen it comes to Sustainable Development. As the conference aims amongst others at securing a renewed political commitment to Sustainable Development and addressing new and emerging challenges young people are preparing to show once again their own commitment. Indeed, balancing the needs of the current generations with those of future generations will be a matter of survival for those who are young at the moment

November 15th 2011 Over 35 youths from around gathered at the UN headquarters in New York to discuss effective youth participation in the UN Rio+20 Conference on sustainable development. The Event titled Mobilizing Youth for successful Rio+20 was organized by The European Union, The United Nations and PeaceChild International and had the UN Deputy secretary Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro and, Mr. Thibault Devanlay First Secretary, Environment, Sustainable Development EU Delegation to the United Nations as well as David R. Woollcombe, President, Peace Child International in attendance.

Esther Agbarakwe, NYCC Co-founder was supported by Population Action International to attend the event.