Tuesday, May 8, 2012

MyCity+20 at the White House

This morning, MyCity+20 was invited to the White House for the launch of the "Youth Sustainability Challenge".

Celine (Paris+20) who is currently based in DC and Kate (NY+20) who came from New York were there to represent MyCity+20.

This event was interesting, as it gathered high level representatives from across the Obama administration, including:
- Gary Guzy, Deputy Director and General Counsel, White House Council on Environmental Quality
- Ronan Farrow, Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Global Youth Issues
- Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
- Bob Perciasepe, Deputy Administrator of the US EPA

The speakers talked about the role of youth in moving towards a sustainable future. They insisted on the crucial role youth had to make change happen in their communities.
Ronan Farrow mentioned the recent youth mobilizations around the World (from Santiago, Chile to Northern Africa, to Spain and Greece) and explained that the time is crucial for youth action. "We need to be the change we want to see" he said. Youth is now more connected and innovative than ever before. We need to use this potential to put our issues on the table and to lead the global conversation.

Speakers insisted that since the last Rio confernence, change happened thanks to young people who have stood up and said that something needed to be done. We should continue to do this today.

The panelists also explained what the administration is doing to promote public engagement within colleges (with the EPA On-Campus Ambassador program), communities, and at the global level.
In different countries, thanks to a powerful network of embassies, the US is trying to empower youth throught the creation of youth councils and though direct conversations with young people. You can have a look at the websites of US embassies around the world to find more about this.

Mr. Gary Suzy presented the "Youth Sustainability Challenge". It calls on young people to submit videos online showing how they make a sustainable difference in their communities. They call for innovative, individual or collective videos, presenting sustainability commitments and innitiatives. The best videos will be shown in Rio and their authors will be invited for an event at the White House.

More info can be found here www.whitehouse.gov/sustainability-challenge

Another very important part of this event was the presentation of sustainable initiatives led by US young people. Several campus initiatives were explained by students from George Washington University, Georgetown University, American University, and the University of Virginia. MyCity+20 was able to describe its recent successes, and why we think the movement can really make a difference in Rio+20 and in the lives of young people. MyCity+20 was a very good example of "what can we do to advance sustainability", which was the theme of the discussion, and the audience received it very well. The panel, who seemed already familiar with this initiative, congratulated us and said it was a great project to connect different cities and people all over the world. Kate also talked about the success of NY+20 that was held in NY two weeks ago. You can find more info about this here http://newyorkplus20.wordpress.com/

You will be able to find some pictures very soon on our facebook!

Overall, this event was inspiring for the youth audience, we were able to discuss youth commitment for sustainable development with the US Government directly.
Take part in the Youth Sustainability Challenge and add your voice!
We want to thank again the White House Council on Environmental Quality for inviting us there!