Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

A Youth Intervention towards Rio+20

by Lloyd on 04.04.12


Lloyd Russell-Moyle, European Youth Forum

As we approach the end of the March negotiations, I worry that we are taking steps backwards in a number of areas, not forwards, and I am fearful that we have failed to grasp fully the task that lies ahead. Yesterday, we presented to the Executive Coordinators three main points that are the top of our agenda: Participation that matters, Governance with teeth, and a Rights-Based Approach. The details of this intervention are as follows:

Participation that Matters
The Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) are increasingly concerned with the participation of civil society within the Rio process, particularly in regards to the Major Groups. We want to remind the Executive Coordinators of the original General Assembly resolution, which reaffirmed “the objective of enhancing the participation and effective involvement of civil society” as we feel that this is currently not being sufficiently met.

In the run-up to Rio, we see the embedding of civil society as essential, and have identified a number of necessary actions to be implemented. Firstly, we ask for complete access to information and negotiation texts at regular points, with the ability to send these materials to our networks in order to engage with global civil society within the negotiations in real time, and not just the privileged few that are physically present. Secondly, we must have meaningful space for participation in the plenary sessions, including speaking slots at the negotiations, scheduled at significant moments in the agenda. Finally, we want to ensure that access for Major Groups will not be increasingly limited in further rounds.

For more long-term reform, we believe the outcome of Rio should include:
• The ability of Major Groups to directly propose amendments and contribute to future discussions;
• The provision of structural support, including administration and practical financial instruments, made available to Major Groups; and
• The clarification of the legitimacy and democracy of the Major Groups.

Governance with teeth

Only through renewed and strengthened institutions can we achieve success at Rio. Without clear outcomes on institutional frameworks, all other agreements are futile, with no longevity or effective way to be implemented. At the moment, these institutions are toothless tigers and we urge everyone to focus on this area to achieve agreement. It is critical that we strengthen the environmental dimension of sustainable development, bringing to a halt the current siloing of each pillar.

We wish to highlight the need for Ombudspersons at the national and UN levels. However, this is clearly only the beginning of the creation of a longer term approach to our planet and we need to move in other areas. We recognise that we are unlikely to have a UN treaty change on the strengthening of ECOSOC, and this is why the only solution is a Sustainable Development Council, that brings together all the spheres of sustainable development directly under the General Assembly. Finally, we call for UNEP to be transformed and upgraded to be an organisation with universal membership that is able to coordinate and streamline MEAs, identifying synergies and increasing efficiency.

A rights based approach

Like many CSOs, we are deeply concerned that the Human Rights agenda seems to have been sidelined throughout these negotiations and that some States appear to be regressing on principles and wording already agreed elsewhere in the UN systems. This is due either to a lack of understanding by States on the difference between universal access and the right itself, or more worryingly, because they actively wish to undermine our rights. We cannot sit by and allow this to happen. In particular, the right for clean drinking water and decent sanitation must be re-affirmed, and the implementation of universal access should follow.

In this statement the MGCY has tried to address the immediate, as well as the longer term, concerns of children and young people in the Rio+20 process. We all know that negotiations are far from over, but we must make sure that children and young people are included – as already called for by the General Assembly – in government delegations as advisors or as civil society.

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Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

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