Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Rio Challenge

It’s late into the night, and I should be finalizing my assessed essay on international climate governance, which is due in a few days time. However, I can’t avoid reading between the lines everything that my friends keep posting on my social networks. Today, I am disrupted by what international experts would call the challenges of sustainable development. I prefer calling this the Rio Challenge.
In 1992, the world leaders at the Rio Convention set out Agenda 21 (I wonder how much its spoken about) the UN CBD, the UNFCCC, among other international agreements.
8 years later, the UN set out the Millennium Development Goals, and which were to last for the 15 years promising us a better world. I have been living in these 12 years of the MDGs, and I have not seen a ‘major sacrifice’ by the governments and the international community towards achieving these goals. Whereas there is much that we can say has been achieved, would still argue that the world leaders have not been ‘daring’ enough to be praised at this juncture.


Yet again, a draft outcome of the Rio +20 tells me that, the world leaders, have proposed to set new goals called the Sustainable Development Goals! I am getting this into my head, with all the views I have held in the past months studying policies and governance, and understanding world crisis. This time round I am not just living, I am studying international environmental policies, and as such it’s of interest to me to know what will happen in Brazil. I am reading between the lines of all the 1992 Rio Conventions, and comparing their successes and challenges with those of the 21st century.

From a Guardian post on the Rio +20 report
One 21st century challenges that has shook governments is the issue of the young people. In the last 20 years, we have seen an immense growth in the youthful population of the world, and especially in the developing nations. In the past one year, we have seen the uprising in all corners of the world, where young people are demanding governments to be more accountable and innovative in the governance models to address public interests not only their needs, but for the whole nation.

Probably, the Arab Spring is not something to scare the governments and the international community, and probably not as much as the Euro crisis, but it is spreading in various forms, shapes and sizes, and most definitely at an alarming speed. In 2010 and 2011, couple of European, African and Arab world young people protested against governments for the purpose of better public policies. Although the #occupy movement addresses other issues, it is mostly led by young people with a desire to see a different way of doing things- innovative governance- it is now being emulated across the world for several reasons. In #occupynigeria, citizens, and mostly the young, energetic and armored with e-skills, are relentlessly urging their Head of State to address the removal of fuel subsidy crisis. From the Durban Climate Change conference, we now have #occupyCOP17. This list is endless, and in a month’s time, it will be extensive as youthful generations realize the need to address crisis of power.




Captions of where 'youth' have been mentioned in the Rio +20 Draft Outcome
However, even with the evidence that young people matter in international governance, the Heads of States will have failed in Rio +20 if they don’t put more weight on the YOUTH agenda. The current text of the draft outcome, has a count of #6 ‘youth’, no mention of young, and it all seems it has been a phrase added to please the generation, locked up between many commas and long sentences.
I cant help but wonder what will happen to governance in the next decade if the power of the young continues to reshape the way we think about governments delivery of public services, and the same governments remain quite about it.

Its time to watch the space!
I will focus in my next article on what each of those articles would mean to young people, and how this can be improved ahead of the Rio +20



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