Rio+20 delegates' blog
The Rio+20 delegates are using this blog to record their experiences. Stay tuned for updates!
|This page is written and maintained by youth delegates. It is not necessarily the view nor the official communication of WAGGGS.|
Wednesday 18th July 2012
Nadine El Achy, Chair, World Board
Rio was the time and space to imagine the future 7 billion people want so that we have a new vision for a common future, with the imagination and creativity to achieve it…a future where we have international justice and global equity, where the gap between wealth and poverty, hunger and excess is minimized.
We know that beyond words and agreements, it will require from all governments and civil societies a holistic, multicultural, multigenerational and urgent response to ensure climate stabilisation in the future, and to address the huge injustices and inequalities being aggravated by its present and future impacts.
Although the text was not as inspiring as civil societies would have wanted we all know that without a legally binding international agreement there is no obligation to act, and we know also that youth will without any doubt go beyond the compromise the government reached.
The evidence shows that women's economic contribution is central to the development of countries, as it is central to tackling climate change. If we are to find effective solutions to climate change, then we have to include all of those who can make a difference. Ignoring or undervaluing the contribution of girls and women restricts the potential for collaboration, innovation and our capacity to act efficiently. When women enjoy equal rights and opportunities, poverty, hunger and poor health decline and economic growth rises.
Each one of you will have a role to play...
The WAGGGS delegates at Rio+20 represented each one of our WAGGGS members: YOU - in this process. They were negotiating on the text, lobbying on behalf of girls and young women and showing once again that WAGGGS has a key role to play in unlocking the potential of girls and women and including them more fully in decision making with the accounting of how women already are driving growth.
You can you be part of this roadmap to a more sustainable future by leading the change in your MOs for inspiration you could start by looking at the FAO Climate Change and Food Security Badge Curriculum, The FAO Biodiversity Badge Curriculum, The Gat Badge and The World Thinking Pack for 2012 on MDG 7. You could by taking part in the Together Greening Projects or the FAO Mini Grants for Environment Projects, you could apply to be part of the WAGGGS delegation to COP 18 in Qatar in Novermber 2012 (application opening soon)...or you could get in touch with a girl who was part of the RIO+20 delegation and ask her to share her experiences with you and tell her about the action plan she will be creating to create the future we all want.
WAGGGS Visibility at Rio+20
The WAGGGS delegation was made up of inspiring Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from all over the world, who worked together and learned from one another, helping us to achieve our common goals.
|Beatrice Omweri, Kenya: As girl guides and girl scouts we are friends and sisters and we are stronger when we work together.|
As highlighted in our pre-conference training on how to be a super WAGGGS delegate, the girls were hugely visible and could always be found sitting at the front and asking insightful questions at side events, lobbying for our key aims, taking part in panel addresses or speaking to the media.
At Rio+20, WAGGGS spoke out on behalf of girls and young women and as advocates of policy change we definitely ‘made some noise’ as requested by Ban Ki Moon. We worked closely with the Major Group for Children and Youth before and during the conference, both within and outside of the negotiating rooms and successfully introduced a paragraph on non-formal education:
Education 2bis: We encourage Member States to promote Sustainable Development awareness among youth, inter alia, by promoting programmes for non-formal education in accordance with the goals of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.
It was very inspiring for our delegation to see negotiators discussing and including a youth-led proposal.
Our lobbying on gender equality and sexual and reproductive health rights unfortunately did not result in text amendments. However WAGGGS did assist with pushing progressive messaging around reproductive rights and Caroline Spelman (UK Environment Minister) told us that the mention of reproductive rights in UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s address to the conference was because of WAGGGS lobbying on the subject.
|Nick Clegg: I am pleased to see that the centrality of reproductive health and family planning to sustainable development has been recognised in the outcome document. This includes creating an enabling environment in which reproductive rights, particularly those of women and adolescent girls, can be realised. The UK will continue to be a strong champion for sexual and reproductive health and rights.|
Caroline Spellman also reported on how she had been inspired by youth and the girl guides in her DEFRA blog.
|Emily Rodriguez, USA: WAGGGS delegates have a very positive attitude and are able to push their key messages in a positive way even in the face of adversity.|
Our delegation was definitely seen and heard at Rio+20 with many partners commenting that “Girl Guides [and Girl Scouts] are everywhere!”
Speaking out for Children and Youth
On the final day of the conference, Harriet spoke to Heads of State at the High Level Round Table on behalf of the Major Group for Children and Youth.
Here is the full speech:
“Honourable Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Good morning, this is your conscience speaking.
I ask you to imagine that i speak with the voice of the child you once were, or of your own children back at home.
I am very upset that you haven’t been listening to me much recently. I hope you will take a minute to do so now....
Children and Youth have come together from all parts of the world to put our differences aside and speak with one united, strong and ambitious voice. We know that this is the only way we can achieve the future that we all need.
We are motivated by planetary boundaries, not by national ones.
We are frustrated and saddened that our governments have not been able to experience the same solidarity that we have achieved.
How can we build our future on the brittle and incomplete foundations you have given us? Regardless of the outcome document's lack of ambition, Children and Youth will attempt to fill the gaps and work together to build the future we need. We will inspire you, where your document has failed to inspire us.
Your inaction and lack of strong commitment to key issues has been raised repeatedly by civil society. We have regressed where we had hoped to move forward. This has set us back many years when we cannot afford another minute to spare.
Children and Youth make up over 50% of the world’s growing population, yet our participation in this process has been minimal. Although we have had support from some member states we do not feel we have been properly represented.
You can look to us for inspiration, from you we need jobs, reproductive rights and someone to look after our interests and the interests of Future Generations.
The hard work really begins now, and we urge you to join us in implementing the solutions you have agreed to. We urge you to go above and beyond what is set out here in your own countries when you go home.
Listen to your conscience.”
Harriet Thew, WAGGGS Environment Programme Coordinator.
There was a real sense of solidarity within civil society at the High-Level Round Table and the representatives from the Major Group for Women, Major Group for Indigenous Peoples and the Major Group for Businesses were especially supportive. The representative of the Major Group for Farmers said afterwards:
“We need more young women leaders like you.”
On our final day together we had a full delegation debrief, in which we wrote down our experiences. WAGGGS delegates undoubtedly came away feeling exhausted after two weeks of long, hectic days in close quarters, and of course, we were disappointed with the many shortcomings of the outcome document. However, there were many happy moments and we also came away feeling:
Pippa Gardner, UK: “To participate in a conference of this scale is a once in a generation opportunity, and I am proud of all that, by working together as a delegation, we were able to achieve. I learnt that my voice matters and that I do have a tremendous power to influence decision makers.”
Maria Nitszch Hastrup, Denmark: “It has been an amazing experience – with a lot of hard work, laughter and wonderful friendships.” On top of it all I learnt a lot about the world we live in and how we as girl guides can make a difference.”
Maggie Simmons, UK: “Rio+20 has helped me recognize the skills I already have and has inspired me to take action at home.”
Anon: “How difficult it is to put onto paper the weeks of work, learning, teaching, For sure it was a huge learning experience for myself and I will bring it back to my federation. What I really learn is…lots of love, patience and to trust myself and realise that Yes, I can!
Allison Hooper, Australia: “Challenges aren’t always about testing your body physically. It’s about challenging your mind to think outside of the square and do things a little bit differently and try things you haven’t done before that change the way you think.”
Hillary Clauson, Canada: “Going down the mountain is easier than going up, but the view from the top is much better.”
Grace Olubufarin, Nigeria: “I was able to talk to many Heads of State and many ministers from different countries. It was a great opportunity…and I will collaborate with the state government about WAGGGS programmes and activities…and continue to eradicate poverty through skills training for young girls and women in the communities.”
Stephanie Kobori Belck, Brazil: “New personal, professional, cultural discoveries at Rio+20.”
Prerana Shakya, Nepal: “It was great to meet people like Michele Bachelet and others and to learn and attend side events on women, organic farming, youth and children etc.”
Stephanie Avari, Brazil: “Being part of a WAGGGS delegation makes you grow like a person, a professional,and mostly as a guide and a leader, to be able to speak up for the voice of 10 million girls.”
Uche Aneka, Nigeria: “I learnt how to make my voice heard by sharing my ideas and opinions with people of different countries.”
Anon: “Girl Guides has always given me a place to belong. Now Girl Guides has given me a place inside the United Nations, one I wouldn’t have been able to access without WAGGGS and one that must listen to what girls and women have to say.”
Mirna Fernandez Pradel, Bolivia: “I had a good time and a lot of hard work, everything was worth the effort, not just because of the results but because we grew up together.”
Lisa Höllbacher, Austria: “It was really exciting to be part of such a huge event. I recognized that girl guides/scouts can really achieve political goals – I saw that we can change our world! I’ve never thought that my favourite hobby would become my dream job. Through guiding I found out which the way is I want to go in my life.”
We met many inspiring, dedicated people at Rio+20 and made good contacts with whom we will continue to develop strong national and international partnerships. As grassroots practitioners of sustainable development WAGGGS delegates will not be deterred, and will continue to sow the seeds of change on a local level, making the Future We Want become a reality within our communities.
Special thanks to the Federação de Bandeirantes do Brasil for their on-going support and warm hospitality. They did an excellent job of hosting us, helped us to navigate the city, taught us some Portuguese and also taught us to dance a little samba, all whilst maintaining a strong educational presence at the People’s Summit with over 150 of their members!
And the text is closed…
So today, the text was closed until the higher-level negotiators turn up tomorrow. Whether it is to be opened again is yet to be seen.
A little about the UN process
The negotiations are like a game of Risk: each country forming alliances with others when it benefits them most. However, at the UN, this game is on a much larger level, with more countries, more groups and more alliances than you could imagine. Firstly there are regional groups such as the African Group, the Asian Group and the Western European and Other Group (WEOG). This is fairly simple and based on location in general but there are many other groups in existence that countries can also be members of. Some of the key players are outlined here:
G77 and China – a grouping of developing countries whose aim is to improve economically. There are 132 countries in this group and includes our delegate countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Rwanda and Sri Lanka.
European Union – this group includes 27 UN member states that cooperate on issues such as trade, security and development. It includes our delegate countries of Austria, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
Holy See – the Vatican City is an observer to negotiations, so any objections raised must be agreed upon by a member state.
The Non-Aligned Movement – was originally formed by countries during the Cold War that remained neutral. This is not now the case and it includes 117 countries, including our delegate countries of Bolivia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Rwanda and Sri Lanka.
JUSCANZ – is a sub-set of the WEOG regional group and includes our delegate countries of United States, Canada and Australia.
Countries often form alliances outside of their groups during negotiations. This is often messy and confusing, as well as making it complicated to know who to lobby! The below examples will illustrate this.
Sexual and Reproductive Rights
Here we are talking about it again– remember #sexrightsrio? Reproductive rights have been completely removed from the final text. This issue illustrates perfectly how groups can differ in opinion and alliances can be formed. Being formed of so many countries, the G77 failed completely to come to a decision so allowed countries to speak for themselves. As a result several G77 countries rejected the inclusion of sexual and reproductive rights in the final document. In contrast, although the majority of the EU were actively promoting for the inclusion, a final decision was not reached and therefore they did not defend the inclusion. Although a member of the EU, Malta created an alliance with the Holy See to reject the inclusion. This meant that the few countries not recognising sexual and reproductive rights ultimately had control over proceedings.
In Risk terms, the G77 have disbanded their alliance and they are free to invade or defend any country they like. Whereas the EU has not allowed any country to invade
or defend, meaning that the countries are basically uninhabited.
All these players, but where are civil society?
Civil society are left floating in a sea of legs in suits. Their only hope is to persuade negotiators to support their recommendations and give them some solid ground to stand on.
|Monday 18 June 2012|
The green dream
Her hair is braided in beautiful braids, she is always smiling and is laughs easily. She is an African woman and has had much hardship throughout her young life.
Beatrice is 26 years old and living in Kenya. She works at the University of Nairobi, but what might be more important is the fact that she is a girl guide in Kenya Girl Guides Association.
When Beatrice saw climate change affecting her city, Nairobi, Beatrice could not help but take action:
The project goes on in primary schools in three different districts in Kenya. The project has three different dimensions. First of all the children in the primary schools get visits from local girl guides. Through peer education these girl guides teach the children how to conserve the land. Another dimension is the planting of trees. This shows that a small action by a child will make a big impact in the future, when there will be green forest all over. The last thing the project works with is education in gardening, making the children more knowledgeable of biodiversity and permaculture.
A billion acts of green
The project is called ‘A billion acts of green’, because it is the hope of Beatrice that it will spread. Not only should it cover more regions in Kenya, but the children, who come in contact with the project, should also spread the idea in their local community – spreading one act to a billion.
Beatrice has a dream:
|Sunday 18 June 2012|
The Story of Non-formal
We mentioned briefly on Saturday that we were successful in getting non-formal education back in the outcome document. I think we’ve recovered enough to tell you all about it…
As Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, we know the importance of non-formal education as we are involved with it every week. You can imagine our disappointment then when it wasn’t included in the draft outcome document. Luckily, we had the Major Group for Children and Youth on our side, and the events that unfolded demonstrate exactly why youth should participate, and continue to participate, in UN processes.
A long journey for that little word
Non-formal education is curriculum-based education that occurs outside of school through extra-curricular activities such as Guides and Scouts. Clearly, WAGGGS and its Member Organizations would continue educating without it specifically in the text, but the inclusion legitimizes the work that we do. As one of the WAGGGS key messages, the work for it began long before Rio+20. In May, Darlene (Canada) attended the informal-informal (discussion of the text) where she spoke with negotiators about non-formal education, while Emily (USA) helped the MGCY draft amendments to the text.
(A summary of) the hard work at the conference
On arrival at Rio+20, WAGGGS delegates began lobbying governments through handouts with proposed text, emails, partaking in informal discussions with negotiators and many met with their government representatives.
On Saturday, negotiators met to discuss the education section. The youth rallied in the room, putting unspoken pressure on the negotiators to make a decision. Switzerland came through for us and suggested the inclusion of the new paragraph, with the EU, US and Australia showing overwhelming support for it. The US went as far as to say: “What you learn inside the classroom is just as important as what you learn outside the classroom – in groups such as the Girl Scouts”. Despite this, the proposal was immediately opposed by the G77.
The final challenge
Without the support from all negotiators a proposal cannot be accepted, so although there was a huge amount of support for the proposal, there was still a lot of work to do. In the couple of hours that discussions were suspended, youth from around the world joined together to speak to the lead G77 negotiator from Indonesia and their unified voice persuaded the G77 to support the proposal.
Just before the strike of midnight, the education chair from Norway confirmed consensus on the proposal and the youth clapped.
It was unique that youth stakeholders inspired the inclusion of a new paragraph just days before high-level negotiations and goes to show the power of youth when they get together and speak out with a unified voice. So here it is:
Education 2bis We encourage Member States to promote Sustainable Development awareness among youth, inter alia, by promoting programmes for non-formal education in accordance with the goals of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.
But it’s not the end….
There are still several days of the conference left, so we need to ensure that non-formal education remains in the text. Remember #EducationEverywhere.
/Maggie with thanks to Emily
|Saturday 16 June 2012|
So, we got heard. They put the ‘non-formal education’ in the text. But we also get seen.
When we walk around at the Rio +20, we all wear our WAGGGS-scarf. It sure looks nice and we are all very proud to wear it, but it also comes in handy. First of all we can always find each other, at meetings, in the food court or in the hallways.
Most important is however that we stand out from the crowd and there are very few people left in the world that do not recognize guides or scouts by their scarf. So most people, if they have met one of us, feel like they have met us all. Just this day, I met a man, who said: “You ask very good questions, please come to my side event”, and I have never seen the man before, so he was probably thinking about another girl guide.
A helping hand
I am guessing you have tried it before. You walk down the street wearing your guide or scout uniform and some random person, who passes you, stops to talk to you, because “I have been a guide once….”. The same happens for us here in Rio. Just today we got help to print by an official delegate from the Seychelles, because he was a boy scout. And Caroline Spelman, the Minister for Environment from UK, met the UK girls today – she has been a guide too.
They loooooove us
The media is also giving us a lot of attention. Just check out these links:
Germaine (Rwanda) is in the local newspaper (photo)
Surely more will follow, so keep your eyes open and please send it on, if you find us mentioned in your local media.
The Tree of Visions
We also get a lot of attention, because we help out at the tree of visions. It is a way for people to take positive action on entering Rio +20.
Just in the lobby, when you arrive, you will find a big tree on the wall, where everybody put colorful papers, writing their visions for the future. At the Tree of Visions we have met delegates from Libya, people working at the cafeteria, youth delegates, Asian musicians and a lot of other interesting people. And then it is quite beautiful to look at.
|Saturday 16 June 2012|
We did it!
Just an short, extraordinair update on this blog:
Youth pushed together and success was achieved. 'Non-formal education' is now in the text.
In the end the negotiators could not ignore the united voice of the youth. We are all so proud of the huge work done by many of our delegates and other youth here at Rio +20.
|Friday 15 June 2012|
Today the negotiations have been going on and all hands have been on deck, girl guides and scouts have been running around trying to connect with the right people and getting our small detail in the text – ‘non-formal’. At the time of writing this blog the negotiations are still going on, but we promise, we will update you tomorrow.
Another thing that all youth organizations are working for here at Rio +20, is a High Commissioner for Future Generations. “Say what?”, you might think, but even though it sounds very strict (and a bit boring), it will an important person giving youth a voice. We could explain it with loads of words (again, maybe a bit boring), but we rather have you watching this amazing video:
As for now the text about High Commissioner for Future Generations is in the draft for Rio +20, and it seems like everybody is enthusiastic about keeping it there, but we still need to keep pushing to make sure it stays that way.
Please help us by sharing and liking ‘Future Justice’ on Twitter and Facebook.
If you want to know more, visit: www.futurejustice.org
|Thurday 14 June 2012|
Today has been a day for getting our voices heard and promoting the WAGGGS key messages.
Whilst many members of the delegation were out around the Rio+20 conference interacting in side events and being a visible, active group; somewhere, deep in Riocentro (the conference centre), a crack team of super delegates were working on policy with many of the major groups.
|At UN Conferences, civil society forms many major groups based on similar interests to lobby Governments and the negotiations. These are: Children and Youth, Business and Industry, Farmers, Indigenous Peoples, Local Authorities, NGOs, Scientific and Technological Community, Women, Workers and Trade Unions.|
A couple of sentences
One key issue for today has been surrounding the weakening of the language of the text surrounding sexual, reproductive and women’s health as a right. Never fear though, we have been out trying to rectify this oversight. Pippa (UK) and Maggie (UK) attended a working group meeting of the NGO Major group, where they contributed to the position statement to be read at the Interactive Dialogue later in the day.
They managed to get a couple of sentences included in the two minute statement outlining the concerns that the group had for the regression in the language of the text surrounding sexual and reproductive rights, and the disappointment that previously agreed language was being weakened.
They were joined later by Mirna (Bolivia) and Harriet (UK) at a meeting to form a young women’s sub-group of the Major Group for Women. With common visions for the future, they developed the basis of some social media campaigns. If you’d like to get involved in strengthening the text surrounding sexual and reproductive health rights, we are using: #sexrightsrio on Twitter.
One little word
Jane (Australia) also submitted a question surrounding violence to women to the Major Group for Women, a group we work closely with, to be asked at the Interactive Dialogue. Meanwhile, Hillary (Canada), Emily (USA) and Darlene (Canada) had a careful eye upon the current negotiations, seeking opportunities to get one little word – non-formal – included in the final text surrounding education.
As you can see, we have been very busy today so we hope you won’t be too disappointed about us not having a dancing video for you today!
First day at Rio +20
|Wednesday 13 June 2012|
Our first day at the Conference began very well. Our delegation did a great job giving our Girl Guide cookies for the people taste. So we could have a bigger audience to talk about our association and our Side Event “Youth led solutions to sustainable development”.
Sharing Guiding projects
In the Side Event we had excellent representatives, they spoke about their Country projects:
|When developing projects ensure that they involve young people in the planning as well as the execution. Ensure that there is an evaluation element to build project planning skills and develop a sense of accountability|
|The mountains made me feel like one small person in a very big world but with their heights I could reach the sky! As Edmund Hillary once said: “It is not the mountains we conquer but ourselves.|
Wouldn’t it be a beautiful future to look forward to? I dream that one day through sustainable development, that future generations will not be expressing the hardships that we, as young people are going through today.
|It was really rewarding for me to see that those kids who weren’t neither guides or scouts became multiplying agents of what we’d thought them.|
What did you get out of the event?
Visibility in the world of suits
It was amazing to see all the faces looking for us with our official uniforms and saying how nice and engaging we are.
We had so much attention just being like we are and doing what we really do: making the other people more confortable with our smiles and creating a positive atmosphere with the spirit of youth amongst all the old men in suits.
Dinner at the National Brazilian Association
We had a very good and fun dinner with the National Executive Officer and another national members.
They give to us a beautiful T-shirt and a national book as well.
After enjoying the dinner we had some samba class with all our Brazilians friends. It was a very good time and we had a very good hospitality from the association.
|Tuesday 12 June 2012|
A top politician, a captain and the perfect delegate
The day started bright and early, as we left our hostel and adventured out into the Brazilian metro system. Not to worry: We are in safe hands with the Brazilian girl guides, who translate, show the way and answer all the possible (and impossible) questions that we have.
The first point on today’s schedule was the Youth Blast, which is a gathering of youth from all over the world discussing sustainable development.
It was very exciting to hear for example former Brazilian presidential candidate Marina Silva talk about how youth should get involved. She had great faith in us, even though “Adults are a little bit scared of what you youth can do”. When asked about her thoughts on the outcomes of Rio+20, Ms Silva answered: “We cannot be optimists. We cannot be pessimists. We need to be persistent”. WAGGGS Delegates were successful in securing 2 of 3 questions to Ms Silva – hopefully a good sign of things to come!
Dancing in Rio
The Youth Blast ended on a high note. First of all was the opportunity to meet the creator of Captain Planet (a children´s cartoon character who saves the environment) and of course the captain himself. “Wow… Is he really here?”, was all Ally (Australia) could say, while she jumped a few times. Captain Planet then led everyone in the Youth Blast in dancing the Macarena. If you want an insight to the joy, just watch the video.
We also held the first WAGGGS side event, where we invited youth to participate in dialogues about youth led solutions to sustainable development. The side event was a great success with lots of participants and everyone learning about the importance of non-formal education and acting through a gender lens.
Ready for Rio +20
Youth dancing the Macarena
Monday 11 June 2012
We’re (almost) all here!
There are now 23 members of our delegation here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Most of us picked up our UN passes yesterday, but those who arrived later picked up their UN passes this morning. We are now official delegates and prepared to speak out at Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development!
Emily (USA) and Hilary (Canada) were selected to attend the TED X Rio+20 event at Copacabana Forte. They listened to seven speakers talking about sustainable development projects and ideas. The most inspiring talk was by a Brazilian lady from the Amazon Rainforest who learnt to read and write when she was 16. She now runs sustainable development projects with her community to stop deforestation in the Amazon.
We spent the afternoon at Federacao de Bandeirantes do Brasil (FBB), the National Guide and Scout Association, to start our training for the conference. Our first activity was to write an interesting fact about ourselves, put it in a balloon and draw our face on it. Here is Lisa (Austria) drawing herself on a balloon.
After some loud balloon popping, we learnt that Pippa (UK) has driven a tram, Ally (Australia) has lived in three countries and Maria (Denmark) loves spinning classes. We then split into small groups and drew what we have done before Rio+20, what we expect at Rio+20 and what we plan to do when we return home. We discussed it in our groups, like Prerana (Nepal), Darlene (Canada) and Priyanthi (Sri Lanka) in this photo.
We also drew what the ideal WAGGGS delegate would look like. One group drew a super delegate: speaking clearly, looking presentable and spreading the WAGGGS messages far and wide.
Here is one of our super delegates, Maggie from the UK, telling you all why she’s happy to be at Rio+20!