16 June 2012, article by Lucie Rosset, UN Youth Delegate for Switzerland:
One of the many achievements of the Earth Summit 20 years ago was the recognition of the important role that civil society has to play in decision-making processes relating to sustainable development. To create a participative system, nine «major groups» representing the different aspects of society were defined. These include the Major Group for Children and Youth, which is very big and involves thousands of young people throughout the world who have been working online for Rio+20 for months.
Just before the beginning of the final round of negotiations, from 9 to 12 June, around 2,000 young people from over 100 countries met for Youth Blast, a conference organised by young people for young people to discuss the challenges facing Rio+20. These days were teeming with ideas! Despite the fact that we come from very different economic, social and cultural contexts, we identified very similar concerns regarding our future.
«The Future We Want», the title of the final document which has been under negotiation for several months does little to respond to the expectations of young people. In addition to the already widespread problem of unemployment, we do not want to have to suffer the problems associated with the degradation of the environment and, even less, to live in a society that is already in serious decline in terms of human relationships. This is why we are appealing to the negotiators to find common solutions for the establishment of an effective institutional framework. We also ask that all of the States consider the decisions taken and put concrete action plans in place.
To conclude, I will recount an anecdote about the closing session of Youth Blast, which was attended by Mr Sha Zukang, Secretary-General of Rio+20. During a question-and-answer session, a young person asked him the following question: «If Rio+20 ends in failure, what will you say to all of these young people who will leave Riocentro (conference venue) disappointed? Mr Sha replied without hesitation and with undue conviction: «Failure, no! We should not allow this conference to fail!»
The people who still believe in this miracle are in the minority and I myself am in the sceptics’ camp. However, there are still some days to go so let’s hold on to a glimmer of until the final bell rings !