Thursday, May 31, 2012

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. 

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