32 representatives share their voice at Rio+20 through the YMCA
YMCA delegates from Kenya, Brazil, Norway, Sweden, Angola, Korea, Argentina and Zambia participated at Rio+20, the UN conference on Sustainable Development ending today, June 22.
The process towards the conference included a preparatory event for young leaders which took place at YMCA Ilha do Governador, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Organized as a camp, the event included a dialogue on YMCA and its relation with Sustainable Development as well as activities with the surrounding community. In total, about 600 people were mobilized in the community to clean up a mangrove area and visit various community projects including a public school.
During the Rio+20 Conference, the YMCA hosted the Ministers of Environment from Korea and Lebanon, the Swedish Ambassador for the Environment, and a specialist on Youth Participation from UN-HABITAT as panellists at their Rio+20 Conference for Youth. Marcus Gustafsson of Sweden, a member of the YMCA delegation, expressed that this panel was one of the most positive elements of the conference. In his words “the event really showed the strength and potential there is if we can just harness our global organization…how many contacts and resources we have at our disposal.”
The young leaders from the YMCA shared their visions through passionate speeches informing world leaders of their concerns and expectations regarding environmentally sustainable policies for the future.
Despite the general feeling of frustration concerning the final resolution of the Rio+20 Summit, the YMCA delegates are very engaged in continuing to share their opinions with various authorities and press present in Rio.
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, in meeting with representatives of major groups, which the YMCA is part of, encouraged world citizens to continue to demand and advocate for sustainable development in order to guarantee justice for all people.
Rio+20 is already one of the biggest UN conferences in history and is also historic in terms of involvement of civil society. This is also one of the largest YMCA delegations to ever participate in an UN event.
Marcus expressed very clearly the importance of involving youth in discussions about environmental sustainability, stating “if we are to empower youth, we need to ensure that they have a future.” For the young YMCA leaders, being at this conference and speaking with world leaders was a rewarding and empowering experience, demonstrating the profound potential of the YMCA change model of Space, Transformation and Impact.