World Youth Alliance
Information
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: World Youth Alliance
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Poverty eradication (5 hits),

Full Submission

Submission by the World Youth Alliance for the Rio+20 compilation document

For more detailed information about the World Youth Alliance and our position on the relationship between the dignity of the human person and global sustainability, please visit http://www.wya.net or contact Elyssa Koren, Director of Advocacy, at elyssa@wya.net.

The World Youth Alliance, a global coalition of young people committed to promoting the dignity of the person, stresses that the following principles should be included in the Rio+20 consensus document:

? Each human person is a precious and vital resource, capable of answering the challenges societies face with innovation and invention.

? The inherent dignity of the human person lies at the root of the goal of promoting sustainable development practices.

? Education is a foundational element of development.

? Poverty eradication takes place at an individual level, by educating and investing in persons, and enabling their creativity and natural capacities to develop and flourish.

? The role of women in achieving sustainable development is critical because they are at the center of social and economic life in their communities.

? Maternal health occupies a special place in our efforts to achieve sustainable development.

? The desire of women and men to found a family must be considered by States in their creation of policies on sustainable development and women?s health.

? The entry point for resolving resource scarcity challenges is the infinite potential for innovation and advancement that resides in the human person.

? The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is essential in protecting human participation in sustainable development.

Expectations for the outcome of Rio + 20

1. Each human person is a precious and vital resource, capable of answering the challenges societies face with innovation and invention. In accordance with Principle 1 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the World Youth Alliance affirms that ?human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development?. It is the intrinsic worth of the human person that provides the basis on which to found policies and laws that create conditions under which human beings can flourish. Without such a foundation, human dignity becomes secondary to the protection of the environment and development. Instead, human dignity is the reason for the pursuit of a sustainable world and the foundation of human rights.1 This fundamental relationship between human dignity and the protection of the environment must be emphasized in the Rio +20 process.

2. The inherent dignity of the human person lies at the root of the goal of promoting sustainable development practices. The recognition of this dignity is the basis for authentic development. Authentic sustainable development is understood as taking place at all levels of society, thereby creating a social, political and economic environment that allows persons to reach their full potential. It is thus the dignity of each individual person and the value of human capital as a whole that comprise our greatest resource, and recognition of this should be at the core of all efforts for sustainability. The Rio +20 outcome document ultimately should reflect this emphasis on the integral link between the dignity of the human person and sustainable development.

Human capital at the root of sustainable development

3. At its very essence, global sustainability is about a world that puts people at the center and uses its economy to serve their interest. The World Youth Alliance recognizes that energy, food, land and water scarcity is a growing challenge for countries at all levels of development, and we place great value on our natural environment as a source of both physical sustenance and immeasurable beauty to be cared for with responsible stewardship. It is imperative that a response to these challenges be predicated on authentic sustainable development, which holds the human person at its center and directs human potential towards improvements in society. Such integral development will ensure the fulfillment of basic needs, and achieve advancements in every sector of society so that each person will be able to live in a manner commensurate with his or her inherent dignity.

4. Education is a foundational element of development. The goal of education must be to help people recognize their dignity and equip them with the necessary tools to exercise their potential. When members of a population are aware of how their education contributes to development, they will be more able to fulfill their responsibility in society.

5. With the human person at the center of development, Poverty eradication becomes an important goal of efforts to create a sustainable world. As noted by Principle 5 of the Rio Declaration, ?All States and all people shall cooperate in the essential task of eradicating poverty as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, in order to decrease the disparities in standards of living and better meet the needs of the majority of the people of the world?. Poverty eradication takes place at an individual level, by educating and investing in persons, and enabling their creativity and natural capacities to develop and flourish. It requires whole communities to work together for the common good. Poverty eradication requires strong families who take seriously their duties and responsibilities in caring for their members and building intergenerational solidarity.

Gender equality and sustainable development

6. The World Youth Alliance recognizes that the role of women in achieving sustainable development is critical. As mothers, providers of food and caretakers of children, the elderly, and the sick, women are at the center of social and economic life in their communities. Empowerment of women brings about reduced family poverty, increased health and reduced child mortality.

7. As such, maternal and women?s health occupy a special place in our efforts to achieve sustainable development; they are fundamental for the education and economic advancement of women and girls. Health education that is life-affirming, person-centered, and evidence-based equips women with the tools to know their bodies, which empowers them and contributes to their overall health.

8. However, the issue of women?s health must not be addressed solely within the framework of the provision of family planning services. The desire of women and men to found a family must be considered by States in their creation of policies on sustainable development and women?s health. Because the world?s greatest resource is the human person, sustainable development should focus not on slowing population growth but on utilizing the potential of people.

The value of technology and innovation

9. The entry point for resolving the challenge of resource scarcity is the infinite potential for innovation and advancement that resides in the human person. The creativity of the human person is the primary catalyst for development. Human creativity generates new ideas and alternatives for growth and sustainability. It is by empowering all people to take part in a global sustainable economy that we can begin to address the challenges of population expansion. The World Youth Alliance affirms Principle 9 of the Rio Declaration, which notes that ?States should cooperate to strengthen endogenous capacity-building for sustainable development by improving scientific understanding through exchanges of scientific and technological knowledge, and by enhancing the development, adaptation, diffusion and transfer of technologies, including new and innovative technologies?. The central focus of a human dignity-centered approach to achieving sustainable development should lie in harnessing the capacity and innate ingenuity of the human person to maximize technological advancements for the good of society.

Recommendations by the World Youth Alliance for the Rio+20 compilation document The World Youth Alliance specifically urges the Rio+20 process to incorporate the following paragraphs:

1. Principle 1 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which states that ?human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development,? recognizes that human dignity is the reason for the pursuit of a sustainable world and the foundation of human rights. Authentic sustainable development is understood as taking place at all levels of society, thus creating social, political and economic conditions that enable social and economic growth. The principle of subsidiarity affirms the importance of local input and solutions to development, and prioritizes the inclusion of these voices as the first and necessary step of sustainable development.

The right to health

2. The right to health is an essential component of sustainable development. Ensuring that individuals have access to health services directly contributes to Poverty eradication and economic growth. Health services refers to basic health care, which includes access to clean water, sanitation, and basic nutrition. Maternal health care

3. Developing areas in most regions of the world are furthest from achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Currently, MDG 5, on maternal health, is the least achieved MDG. The provision of basic maternal health care is critical to protect the lives of women and mothers and must be the focus in attaining the MDG and sustainable development. Recognizing that health of women enables protection of vulnerable children and in particular increases livelihood and educational opportunities for girls, maternal health is essential for sustainable development. Statistics show that maternal morbidity is highest in the rural areas of developing countries. Only one-third of rural women receive the recommended prenatal care and only twothirds receive prenatal care at least once. Furthermore, there are disparities between urban and rural women: urban women are twice as likely to receive professional care at childbirth than are rural women. In particular, sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and Oceania have the lowest attendance by skilled personnel and the highest maternal mortality.

4. For sustainable development, women must have access to maternal health care, including prenatal and post-natal health care and emergency obstetric care. The most important step in improving women?s reproductive health is increasing the number of skilled birth attendants, who are trained in treating obstetric fistula, hemorrhaging, high blood pressure and infection, the primary causes of maternal mortality. The UNFPA states that three-fourths of all maternal deaths could be averted by the presence of skilled birth attendants.10 Furthermore, better infrastructure, more hospitals and cleaner health care facilities will reduce maternal mortality.

Women and girls

5. Acknowledging the skewed ratio of births of male children to births of female children and the preference for male children over females in some cultures, gender equality is an essential component of sustainable development. The role of girls, who are at the center of social and economic life in their communities, must be protected if a society is to achieve economic growth and sustainable development.

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

6. Protection of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as affirmed in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, is necessary to achieving sustainable development. This right reflects that humans are born with dignity and conscience. It enables individuals to move forward within their professional and community obligations while being assured of protections for their beliefs and conscience.

7. In particular, given the importance of health care and maternal health care for women in the attempt to develop a sustainable world, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is critical for health-care providers. It enables them to feel comfortable in providing care for people within their communities and allows for increased participation in the provision of a fundamental need.

8. Furthermore, recognizing the centrality of education to a sustainable world, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion must extend to educators. Contributions of people of faith to the field of education have been of paramount importance, and these educators must be guaranteed protection of their beliefs so that they can continue to care for and instruct the next generations of global citizens.
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