Sustainable development has emerged as one of the most prominent development paradigms over the last four decades. It aims at providing a holistic approach, enveloping several dimensions such as economic, environmental, social and participatory development into a single framework. Over the years, we have seen a growing institutionalization of sustainable development on the international level. In 2009, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) decided “to organize, in 2012, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development at the highest possible level, including Heads of State and Government or other representatives”
In June this year, world leaders will convene in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, called Rio+20. The Conference is aimed at Spurring actions that will help people and countries move toward a greener economy that will promote more jobs, greater prosperity, less poverty, and ensure that we all live in decent and safe communities and in addition to improving the way we manage the challenges of sustainable development.
World leaders will also consider actions to achieve a more sustainable world– a world where we have less poverty and a better quality of life, where we enjoy greater security, and can deal with difficult challenges such as global climate change, rapid urbanization and greater resource needs of the world’s growing population. It is my hope that the outcomes will be “forward-looking and action oriented” and should result in a “focused, political document”. For Rio+20, Young people want to move beyond being seen as “token” representatives but significant, credible and active actors in influencing change at Rio+20.
Thus, the youth need to get a hold of this golden opportunity to get involved in the process of shaping the future they so desire to see by actively engaging themselves in issues of Sustainable Development or else others will shape it for them. The Children and Youth are key moral stakeholder when it comes to Sustainable Development. As a matter of fact, the youth and children are an officially recognized stakeholder within the processes leading to Rio+20 but ensuring their meaningful participation and being taken seriously will require determination and work. This calls for active involvement of all stakeholders, governments, NGOs, private sector but also civil society. We should not leave matters of sustainable development to politicians or policy makers alone, to decide for us what Sustainable Development should be like but take action ourselves because our existence rests on it.
Sustainable development is more than just caring about the environment or generating money through economic growth. It is the intersection of Environment, economy and society. As we think of sustainable development, we must think of a system, where the decisions taken ensure that each component of the system man, trees, environment, society, wealth is capable of flourishing without hindering the capacity of the other component to do so, whether in the present or in the future.
I call on the government to formulate policies that will protect our future. It’s our demand as young people because it’s a basis for which our country will ensure better jobs, cleaner cities, and more equal sharing of resources.
Written by Kaviri Ali
A Youth activist and Uganda Outreach Team Leader / Outreach Volunteer for the Capacity Building Team of the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development (UN CSD) Major Group of Children and Youth (MGCY)./Founding member Young Leaders Think Tank for Policy Alternatives/Community Based Rehabilitation Student Kyambogo University/member FOWODE young leaders.