• Lead-organizer: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)
  • 11:00 - 12:30
  • Date: 21 Jun 2012
  • Room: P3-5

Sustainable Futures: Youth, Innovation & the MDGs

Organizing partners

EOSG, MDG Advocacy Group, DESA



The UN has recognized the need to harness the energy, imagination and initiative of the world?s youth in overcoming the challenges facing humankind, from enhancing peace to boosting economic development and dealing with Climate Change. This event will focus on youth as agents of change and catalysts in achieving the MDGs and beyond, with a focus on innovations that are youth driven dealing with sustainable development. It will: a) present some powerful examples of youth-led initiatives which impact local decision-making processes b) showcase tech and social business solutions which empower communities and c) provide recommendations for ensuring stronger linkages between the youth and MDG agenda 2015+.

Detailed programme

"Young people can and must play a central role in bringing dynamic new ideas, fresh thinking and energy to the Rio+20 process."
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General

Venue: Side event at Rio+20, June 2012

Meeting format: Roundtable discussion (with media), the Secretary-General, MDG Advocates, youth leaders in Development (TBD), interactive format which will promote youth involvement through robust social media engagement to raise visibility of the work of MDG advocates.


(tbc) Youth Speaker: representing youth led organization to focus on the role of youth in the MDG agenda, linkages between the MDGs and youth development goals (i.e., World Programme of Action for Youth) and what young people are doing to ensure a youth voice in the Post 2015 MDG agenda.

Professor Yunus on Social business, YY tour, micro finance, and will demonstrate how he is bringing young people of the world together, with the massive power of technology and support of social business, to ensure that Millennium Development Goals (MDG) are achieved in all countries.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs can focus on Sustainable and rural development in the context of youth.

Marina Silva, Environmentalist and politician
 (environmental sustainability)
Judith Diers, UNICEF Adolescent Development and Participation Unit, presenting innovative youth led digital mapping on environmental risks in their community and its impact on local decision-making.

Bharati Chaturvedi, Chintan - A Delhi based NGO that works with youth waste pickers to convert waste into social wealth, has been awarded the US Secretary of State's Innovation Award for the empowerment of girls. Chintan will use funding from the Secretary?s Innovation Award to strengthen public-private partnerships to create sustainable livelihoods for women waste pickers, and education opportunities for waste picker girls. The Innovation Award jury -- composed of Judith Rodin of the Rockefeller Foundation, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank, and Melanne Verveer, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women?s Issues -- described this program as an initiative that ?truly holds the promise of transforming the lives of women and girls.?

Global Poverty Project ? Presenting ?Shine a Light? Campaign as an innovative and sustainable solution cutting across a majority of the MDG by providing solar powered light to children and youth thereby eliminating the need for kerosene, providing light for studying and business, decreasing in violence against women and children, decreasing pulmonary disorders associated with inhalation of toxins, and decreasing environmental degradation such as CO2 emissions and deforestation.

Key Questions/Issues to be explored:

1) Why engage youth in Rio+20

1) The economy and green jobs. Unemployment and underemployment are major concerns for youth around the world. The global economic downturn has hit youth disproportionately hard compared to their presence in the labor market. However, growth in the Green Economy has the potential to benefit youth, simultaneously providing career opportunities and the environmental benefits of a more sustainable economy.
2) Young people have to opportunity to influence policy. Both the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements are fueled in part by lack of economic opportunities for youth. Young people can ride this wave of youth activism and assert their influence by demanding that world leaders commit to concrete actions for sustainable development at Rio + 20.
3) Youth are demanding accountability. Diplomats have been making pledges to act on environmental problems for many years. Yet today, we?re facing a potentially disastrous environmental future. One of the main themes of the Earth Summit will be improving international governance on environmental issues. One idea on the table, proposed by NRDC, is an international registry of environmental commitments and pledges. This would be a way of tracking progress, forging partnerships, and holding leaders accountable for their promises. Youth are key agents for promoting this change and holding leaders accountable.
4) Rio + Twenty-somethings. Just as the first Earth Summit was a pivotal moment in the lives and careers of an earlier generation of environmentalists, Rio + 20 is an opportunity to make their voices heard. And people are listening. The world is looking to this new generation for innovation and action.
5) Future We Want. Young people will be living with the decisions made at Rio, successes and failures of the environmental movement for the rest of their lives. Now is the time to assert their influence and it's the UN?s responsibility to give them agency to advocate on their behalf. The Earth Summit is an opportunity to prove that international environmental action is possible, and that commitments will bring action. #FutureWeWant is the official hash-tag for Rio + 20. Youth will be tweeting, posting, and talking to their communities about the results you want from Rio + 20.
Copyright (c) United Nations 2011 | Terms of Use | Privacy Notice | Contact | Site Map | New