Nicolò Wojewoda Director, Road to Rio+20, Peace Child International

No guidance could be clearer than Elizabeth Thompson’s words at a recent youth briefing on Rio+20. Mrs. Thompson, a Rio+20 Executive Coordinator, encouraged young people to discover their power and “determine how [they] are going to use it at Rio and beyond”, by starting a revolutionary “Global Spring” at next year’s Conference and learn from the experience of youth activists around the world in the tumultuous events of the past year.

 

Road to Rio+20, a coalition of more than 60 youth-led and youth-serving organizations from around the world, is doing just that, by weaving a global movement to realize the potential of the Earth Summit 2012.

 

For months, coalition partners have been organizing national and regional meetings to get young people’s perspectives on the objective and themes of the summit, producing a series of declarations that were fed into the work of the Major Group for Children & Youth and used as a basis for national and regional advocacy efforts. This work has been complemented by diverse and wide reaching awareness-increasing efforts, ranging from caravans, video games, lesson plans, green economy business contests, social media campaigns, publications, TV interviews and even a musical on the theme of the green economy!

 

Those activities have allowed a strong network to form, which has lately consolidated into a full-fledged coalition that focuses on mobilizing youth around the work already done and planning the follow up to Rio to ensure implementation and accountability in partnership with and through the leadership of youth.

 

The results of these and other efforts are evident from the impact young people have had in the preparatory process, including on the ongoing 2nd Intersessional Meeting, where a side event on youth-led campaigns has been put together in collaboration with We Canada, SustainUS, Rio+Twenties, MobilizeUS!/Human Impacts Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Bahá'í International Community. Young people are also taking the conversation to the streets of New York, in an action under the banner ‘People Unite for the Future We Want’.

What’s next? Coalition partners have agreed to focus their coordinated action on three main initiatives:

 

  • Rio+YOU – our flagship campaign that will unfold over a series of Days of Action, including Earth Day (April 22nd) and that will inspire and provide practical guidance for getting the word out about Rio+20 and its issues in every school, household and town hall;
  • Online outreach – leveraging the wealth of educational tools and social media capabilities of coalition members to create a truly global online awareness push in the lead up to the summit;
  • Model Earth Summits – recognizing that not everybody will be at Rio, but that Rio should nevertheless enter the lives of millions on our planet; already 4 of these simulations are planned around the world (including the one that gave origin to the idea: ‘Paris+20’);

 

Will Member States, the UN system and other key stakeholders support these and other mobilization efforts? Will the summit achieve a successful outcome through leadership by not just Heads of State/Government, but also leaders in all other sectors of society, including youth? Will this truly be a “Rio for 20somethings”, as the US delegation remarked at the 1st PrepCom? Young people are already leading the way. It’s time to show your support.