The following is a guest post by Nicolò Wojewoda, Director of Road to
Rio+20, a coalition of organizations weaving together a global
youth-led movement towards the Earth Summit 2012.
are two clear reasons for young people worldwide to drop all plans in the
remaining months until the summer break, and organize a MyCity+20 event.
other Model UN simulations, it’s a full educational experience by itself. You learn
about global issues through preparatory research, you develop writing, public
speaking, problem solving, consensus building, conflict resolution, leadership
and cooperation skills. It’s fun.
And it makes for excellent extra-curricular activity, complementing what you
learned in the classroom.
if that was all there was to it, we wouldn’t be shouting from the rooftops how
crucial organizing such an event is for the future of your community (or, for
that matter, the world). There are already numerous excellent Model UN events
and networks that do wonders for your CV and professional development
MyCity+20 is about more than that. The
outcome of the simulation is only part of the picture. When you finish your
discussions, when you draft your final declaration, and when you take your
country delegate hat off, you realize something: the simulation is just the
start – action needs to follow.
here’s where reality comes into play. Despite being touted by the UN
Secretary-General as one of the most important conferences in the history of
the United Nations, Rio+20 is now flying completely under the radar.
Few governments (if any) are making commitments in policy and funding that
match the current challenges of an unsustainable world and its multiple
multi-faceted crises. Most people around the world don't even know what the
summit or its themes are, due to the notable absence of discussions around it
in schools, universities, and mainstream media channels (aside from the
occasional mention in the environmental column).
an incredible potential for young generations to take on a leadership role and
address these issues, in international negotiations, and in communities around
the world. Road
to Rio+20 is weaving together such a global youth-led movement, with
organizations and their combined outreach to millions of people on
all continents (and yes, even in Antarctica!). Since 2010, we’ve been
mobilizing youth to make their voice heard and to take
action – pushing world leaders in all sectors to play their role in
the development of a more sustainable world, and creating that world ourselves.
April 22, Earth Day, we’ll take the next step in our journey by Mobilizing the Earth towards Rio+20. Our hope
is to see MyCity+20 events spread like wildfire all over the world, in quickly
growing numbers from that day of mobilization. Our belief is that these events
can shift the conversation we’re having in our communities, and build solid
plans of action, led by youth, on how to transition those communities towards a
next time somebody asks you “why another
Model UN?”, remind them that yours is not just a simulation, but more of a simul-action. And that when the outcome
of the event is finalized, and all roles have been successfully played, that’s
when the work really begins.
Katharina Hess and Susanne Salz of ICLEI explain why local authorities need to be included in and empowered to play a greater role in global environmental governance. To find out more about ICLEI’s involvement with Rio+20, visit their website at www.iclei.org/local2012.
ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) is an international association of local governments and national and regional local government organizations that have made a commitment to sustainable development. ICLEI highlights its work with 110 large cities in its membership, 12 of which are mega-cities as well as over 1000 medium-sized and smaller cities and towns in over 70 countries. Amongst others, ICLEI supports cities to become low-carbon, resilient, bio-diverse, resource-efficient, and to green their infrastructure and urban economy and to achieve a healthy & happy community. Its basic premise is that locally designed initiatives can provide an effective and cost-efficient way to achieve local, national, and global sustainability objectives.
ICLEI realizes that summits such as Rio+20 hold great significance in shaping the future we want. We are currently living beyond the carrying capacity of our planet and in the next 40 years we have to build the same urban capacity which we have built in the past 4000 years. ICLEI’s vision is to make systemic changes to ensure sustained human life on earth and for Rio+20 to be more than just a declaration – the conference needs to decide upon and present concrete actions! ICLEI’s submission for the outcome document at Rio+20 therefore calls for a greater role of local authorities in the process, amongst others.
Why cities and local governments you ask? In 2050, 9 billion people will live on this planet with two-thirds of the population living in urban areas. Cities will account for 90% of the global economy and between 2005 and 2025, an estimated 200 trillion dollars will be spent globally on fixed urban assets. This economic growth should be resource-productive, resilient, low-carbon and low-risk urban infrastructure. Moreover, cities will consume 80-90% of the global energy, and will be responsible for just as much greenhouse gas emissions stemming mainly from building heating and cooling, transport and energy production. It therefore makes sense to include cities, and more particularly local governments, in global environmental governance since they are part of the problem but can also be part of the solution.
The idea of MyCity+20 to engage citizens at the local level into the global Rio+20 debates is the embodiment of something at the core of ICLEI: "Think global, act local!". Let's work locally for a successful global Rio+20 conference!