Friday, April 6, 2012

The only simul-action that will make Rio+20 a success

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.

There 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.

As 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.

But 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 trajectory.

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.

And 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).

There’s 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 its 90+ 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.

MyCity+20 joins the Rio+YOU campaign as the key initiatives that the coalition is supporting in the lead up to the summit. We’re encouraging and empowering young people to organize events, share stories, grow a global online conversation, educate each other, become more entrepreneurial, and become advocates of the future they want.

On 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 sustainable future.

So 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.

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