Day 8 at CSD-19

The day of the official opening in the General Assembly Hall. Always impressive.

Some good speakers, including Dr. Jeffrey Sachs who highlighted the global ethics crisis. His speech was very strong, focusing on the influence of the strong oil lobby (especially in the US). Unfortunately he didn’t really explore the concept of this ethics crisis further. But he mentioned that what the world needs is a technological road map, global carbon taxation, strong regional cooperation (he praised the EU), and a global knowledge network. It’ll be worthwhile to see the webcast again of his speech.

The Baha’i International Community had organized a side event on Making the invisible visible: Values and the transition to SCP in collaboration with Consumers International, The One Earth Initiative, and the Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL). Its speakers focused on the values hidden behind our consumption and production behaviour. It was pretty amazing how each presentation linked very neatly into the next.

We then had our BIC briefing and in the evening I attended an event organized by the Major Group for Children & Youth on ‘Youth, Social Media, the Arts, and Rio+20’. Some very inspiring ideas out there. Definitely worthwhile checking out these initiatives: WE CAN, Rio+Twenties, Road to Rio and Greenbiz, Inspire Change (a performing arts initiatve from all UN regions, directed by Kiara Worth), Alas de Rio, Feather Project and the Human Impacts Institute.

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Day 7 at CSD-19

Today’s most interesting event was a side event hosted by the UN Programme on Youth (UNPY) and the Major Group for Children and Youth will host a side event on Youth Participation: guarding the needs of current and future generations, in the context of the Commission on Sustainable Development and the International Year of Youth.

All speakers spoke without notes (always nice, but very rare at the UN). They talked about the importance of Youth involvement in CSD and Rio+20, discussed how to include children in the whole process, explained the responsibilities of being a youth delegate on a government delegation, and made a plea for raising awareness about Rio+20.

I guess the latter will be my job when I get back to the UK.

Oh, and those negotiations? All going painfully slow. The ‘average’ speed seems to be dealing with 3 paragraphs ( including subparagraphs) in about 3 h. They’ve got a long, long way to go yet…….

day 1 at CSD-18

The new North Lawn building at the UN is, well, what shall I say? It’s very square, white, light (compared to the old venue) and has sufficient sockets. Other than that, I don’t know what to say about it. It’s temporary as well (that might explain some of its design). Security queues were long due to CSD coinciding with negotiations about the non-proliferation treaty on nuclear weapons. So, lots of TV crews and demonstrators, but of course not for CSD!

Because many people were still getting their UN passes, attendance at the morning briefings was low. Jan-Gustav from the NGO Major Group couldn’t get rid of all their secondary passes for the afternoon session! He gave them to us, noting they’d expect something in return.

Well, our briefing only had about 10 attendees, so I struggled with getting rid of all the secondary passses as well. Completely the opposite of my expectation! I’m not sure if day-1 is a good indication of what will happen in these 2 weeks, so I’ll wait and see.

The first woman I knew from last time who walked in this morning was ‘charmed’ into presenting our 1-minute statement. Luckily I knew Sabinah wouldn’t say ‘no’ to my request, so at least our seat at the microphone was occupied during the opening session. However, apparently all these secondary passes weren’t really needed since security wasn’t aware of them and let anyone in……..Typical! Again, let’s wait and see what happens at day-2.

Anyway, I didn’t go into tthe opening session but explored the new building instead and sat in the ECOSOC room which acts as an overflow room with many big screens showing what was happening in conference room 1. Opening statements from the Major Groups were amazing, full of principles close to Baha’i principles. Let me show you the statement presented by the children & youth Major Group and delivered by Michaela Hogenboom (youth representative on the Dutch government delegation):

Thank you chair for giving me the floor

Dear delegates,

As this is the 18th session of the CSD, we have finally come of age. We are no longer in our childhood stages of determining sustainable development – the time of maturity has arrived. This year is the International Year of Youth and now, more than ever before, the youth are taking a stand.

The need for a change in our societies is stronger than ever. This transformation – that enables us to shift towards a more sustainable world – should be an organic process, guided by principles of compassion, integrity and justice. We need to pragmatically rethink our behavioral patterns, to enable a paradigm shift that is based on a cyclical process of action, reflection and meaningful participation, which involves citizens as a key driver of change.

Awareness, education and empowerment are fundamental requisites to enabling this process. We are ready to take on this challenge, as our organizations are key providers of non-formal education. Through peer-to-peer learning we are already investing in our own social capital to build patterns of awareness. We want to be empowered and count on your recognition to do this.

Youth are energetic and passionate about holding governments and all relevant stakeholders involved accountable for their actions. We are equal partners in this process and commit ourselves fully to achieving the challenges as will be identified by this Commission and the solutions required beyond today.

We need to transcend national borders and individual action. We all together have a common but differentiated responsibility.

Let our vision be world embracing.

I spent the afternoon catching up on reading, sorting out stuff for the Women Major group, skyping with my love, chatting to my BIC friends and attended our BIC briefing at 5 pm. Got home early (it was still light!), so I actually had time to go for a run in Central Park.