Rio+20 delegates speak out for sustainability
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12 Juin 2012
WAGGGS delegates are speaking at high-level environmental events ahead of this month’s Rio+20 sustainability conference in Brazil.
The official conference takes place from 20 to 22 June, but side events and related discussions are already in full swing. Our delegates are now in Rio, working to make girls’ and young women’s voices heard on the global stage.
Below, four of our delegates explain the events they have taken part in so far.
Emily represented WAGGGS in a Google Hangout online video conference with Rio+20 executive coordinator Brice Lalonde.
"As one of five international youth participants, I asked Mr. Lalonde questions about how to get non-formal education into the formal negotiation text and how he will support youth at the conference in Rio. Regarding non-formal education, he said, “What you are doing is so great, so keep on doing it.” He urged me not to worry about the wording of the formal negotiation text.
"On the subject of gender, Mr. Lalonde said that the status of women is a prerequisite for sustainable development and that “the voices of women are heard in the negotiation, but perhaps not enough in the outcome”.
"He emphasized the importance of volunteerism and encouraged youth to work together in taking action. He said, “You, the young generation, are the actors of change. Rio+20 is about your future and this time we need people to stand, to challenge, to inspire, to dream.”
"Mr. Lalonde will meet with youth while in Rio and he supports all youth who are taking environmental actions. The WAGGGS delegation is a powerful actor of change, and I look forward to seeing how we lead and inspire change in Rio during the next couple of weeks."
You can watch a recording of the Google Hangout below.
Maggie spoke at a meeting of the UK United Nations Global Compact.
"Former WAGGGS delegate Leah Parsons and I attended a Quarterly Meeting on Gender and the Environment of the UNGC UK to discuss the important role of girls and young women in sustainable development.
"I spoke on the panel about what needs to be in place for a girl to become an agent of change, using WAGGGS as an example, and the plans the delegation has for Rio+20.
"Leah was a member of the WAGGGS delegation to COP17 in November. She spoke about how girls make the best agents of change for sustainability, using examples from her experiences with WAGGGS in Durban and back home with her Girl Guide unit.
"We both joined business leaders at round-table discussions to help develop actions and partnerships that encourage equality.
"The event aimed to raise awareness of the importance for businesses to engage with and empower young women and girls. Other speakers included Ros Kelly, former Australian Cabinet Minister for Environment, Sports, Art, Tourism and Territories, and Linden Edgell from ERM."
Pippa, spoke as an expert at a Rio+20 discussion attended by UK Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and organised by the UK government, UNICEF UK and the British Youth Council. Maggie also attended and led a group discussion, and fellow Rio+20 delegate Miriam Otieno from Kenya gave a speech via Skype.
"I felt the event was really positive and was impressed by the engagement and knowledge of the young people.
"The audience was very receptive to the ideas I put forward in my talk – especially around the topics of non-formal education and grey water recycling – and the experts with years of experience of research in the field were very impressed at WAGGGS work and commitment to this field.
"One of the participants listed the Skype call with Miriam as their favourite part of the event, and her contribution of a Kenyan youth perspective was very much appreciated and well received by all.
"I wish that Caroline Spelman had come earlier in the day so that she could have heard some of the contributions and discussions in more detail, but it was great that she did come to listen to what we were saying and was taking in our requests (even if she didn’t completely respond to all of them). I hope we can keep her to her promise of a rendez-vous in Rio!"
Leah, who was a WAGGGS delegate at COP17 in 2011, spoke at a public debate with the UK government’s Environmental Audit Committee, and at the UK United Nations Global Compact meeting with Maggie. Download Leah’s UNGC speech.
"Speaking at this open public discussion on the Rio+20 agenda was great. I feel proud that I could be there to represent both Girl Guiding members as well as youth members and tell them about what youth and women are doing to fight climate change, as well as the impact it is taking on them.
"The event was moderated by Joan Walley MP, Chair of the committee. Other speakers included experts from the Hard Rain project, University College London, the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, the BBC’s World Challenge, Sustainable Finance, and the UN.
"I look forward to seeing what happens at Rio+20 and hope that it forms a stepping stone in saving our planet and home."