ceturtdiena, 2011. gada 21. jūlijs

European Youth Meeting 2011 for Sustainable development, Day 2- Part 1-Opening session and discussions

First morning of the EYM started with breakfast, of course. Hmm, quite poor choice on green carpet. The Tallink Express hotel has only few options of food for breakfast, from which I chose the porrige. That seemed to be made in water only, no milk added :( And the only jam available tasted a bit synthetic. My suggestion would be to add some milk when cooking and put at least some honey for guests to use (especially for those who drink tea with honey instead of sugar). Talking about teas- the only option was black tea and even that was Lipton, which I strongly refuse to drink due to horrible practices implied on tea pickers. Have they never heard of other tea companies and some herbal teas? And one more minus point was that there was only margarin available, no butter at all. I would NOT recommend this hotel for environmentally friendly travellers who care what they eat and drink.

Nice walk took us to the Meriton Hotel- well that was a good change, and according to the speech of the GM, they have been very sustainable in their business. For example, they close the whole floors to switch off the heating during low season, they have put the movement sensores to their outside lights, they cook fresh food etc. Sounds nice! I have to spend some more time here to comment or recommend.
Now, finally, to the point of the EYM.

Opening session was mainly dedicated to the topic Green economy (GE) and how we should "marry" the Economy with  "Fair and Green". And it is time for youth to be involved. There are major groups that are having an official say in the UN, a mandate to talk about sustianable development given by the last conference- Rio Earth Summit. And now there are also several organisations that provide the space to be involved. Some of them I'm about to check out later- Rio+Twenties and Youth Caucus as suggessted by Michaela Hogenboom from Rio+Twenties. 
We should also compare some reports - UNEP, Green Economy Report (from environmental and social perspective) and OECD, Towards Green Growth (from economic perspective) as suggested by Gabe van Wijk from Dutch Youth Council.

Mr Friedrich Bart, Senior Advisor on Environment, Climate and Energy to UNDP in Europe/Bonn reminds us that such problems as poverty, lack of resources, energy, water etc. and deforestation, desertation, 'plastic soup' in Pacific etc, are none created by climate change. They are created by bad management. But the climate change will put ane normous pressure and accelerate all of them. So we must think of new ways of management for it, and Rio must be one tool to do it.
Previous practice was to build and develop first and clean up later. This must be changed now, we have to remove the pressure from environment immediately. Therefore we can't help developing countries to develop in the same way that we did. They have to develop within and using GE instead. For that we need more jobs in GE than conventional one also in the developed countries.
Part of the GE is the inclusion of external costs - the environmental impacts should be taxed, the pollution cost should be included in the prices of products etc.
We already know many answers to our problems- efficient energy consumption, knowledge how plants harvest natural energy, organic farming for agricultural issues etc, we just need to pressure it more. Some say the waste management is a problem. The problem is in the name- in reality there is no such thing as "waste", it's all resources that we throw away, therefore solution must be the reduction first.
But GE roadmap should include one more thing- changed budgeting systems. We must get rid of subsidies for unsustainable practices and create a system where you pay to the eco-system. And that must be done in a way that also the poor countries can participate. They need investment opportunities and capacity in the governments to do it. Money, technology, skills - it's all neccessary for the GE, but if the national government is very weak, we need tough environmental legislation first. And our problem at the moment is that also international governance level is very weak, UN is too small, UNDP and UNEP are lacking people, capacity and power.
The change starts with awareness of little things, like, if you know how many litres of water per day you use, you are more likely to be both willing and able to reuce it. But to make a change you also need skills to do it. Too many people can speak on what needs to be done, but too little people can actually do it. Therefore the first step is to change this mindset personally and within the education.
Rio needs both the input and the pressure. But it must not end with that- we must see through the promisses our governments are making, we have to create a checking system in society.

Ms Marina Kaljurand, Undersecretary for Foregin Economuc Relations and Development Aid in the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was presenting the Estonian practices on "Development Cooperation and Sustainable Development". The aim of the development cooperation (DC) is to reduce the porverty, support economic and social development and increase welfare, and the very important part of doing it well is teaching that to children and youth. The society must be educated that communities receiving the aid are not just poor people who get something, they are partners. The aid effectiveness is depending on various relations between partners and donnors, and working together as partners is the only way to be effective.
She reminded us about Millenium Development Goals (MDGs)- it was the first time in mankind history when all UN Members could agree on something all together. We must put a pressure to achieve such agreement also in Rio+20. Even though many MDGs are far from reach, some even getting worse, we must not think of this as a fialure. We must focus on Rio and what can be done now from individual to international level. Better small steps than none, it can be "a hen"- project by young people to donate a hen to African family, or a goat or cooperation in between the countries. But it must be there. And the more practical the DC is, the better it is. More on Estonian DC.
Sustainable development should be one of priority sectors for every government. The Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) must be devleoped and implemented, but the society again is the one who must check it and remind it to the governments every other Monday.
Ms Kaljurand reminds- get others more interested in the world around you!

Mr Lloyd Russell-Moyle from European Youth Forum was giving an enthusiastic and passionate speech on youth envolvement, our vision, good and bad practices. He emphasises that "not going dar enough is a failure", and there are many failures after Stockholm 40 years ago or Rio 20 years ago. We still fail to agree on consumption and production patterns for 19 years already. UNEP is created and paid by only 5 countries and it will cease to exist if Rio+20 is another failure.
But even with all this history, we must not lose our vision- world environmental organisation that is powerful and capable. We all together have to contribute in creation of an institutional network in Rio, because we will be the ones to work with and within this system.
We must be more efficient on how we do it. We must talk with the youth around the world- Asia, Africa, Latin America etc, and then the voice of youth in Rio will be strong. We have to work together with every group of youth-young politicians, scientists, street activists and others. We need this support from each other.

All of the speeches were very encouraging, but during the discussions young people were asking- what mandate do we actually have in such negotiations? 
  • as long as the civic society is self funded, the mandate is weaker than if it was supported by governments or large lobby groups, but that is our task to get this support
  • individuals should come together in national coalitions, those would come together in regional coalitions, which then would meet at the UN, and then the voice would be billions strong. The positions must be coordinated between the activists to gain greater weight.
  • also the civic society must be transparent in their decision making and functions to see that the processes are democratic and reliable. There must be high professionalism to participate in negotiations, great knowledge for not to be played into advocating something else in the end. However, sometimes it's the governments lacking expert knowledge....
  • the approach must be tailored, separate to each and every country's government, because each one of them have different story, problems and background. Make it individual to just that government.
The young people were worried that it still goes nowhere, sometimes we doubt if youth involvment is actually working?
  • Good examples of yout contribution is Article 21, Youth Caucus, and Article VI in Cancun, where the amendments were made from concrete proposals by young people. They were not just recommendations but 'real decisions'. 
  • One of the significant ways to impact something is to be the agent of change, and sometimes it's more important to have the effect on society- families, friends, schools, jobs etc. Then it reaches the government via different approach.
  • We must remember, that even though the online participation is great, it is neither the only, nor the best practice as it is very Western tool. Actual working groups and meetings are important, especially when you work with other regions. And once you have participated in a group meeting, don't just leave it be- bring it then both online and to home organisations!

The Part 1 of the second day concluded with lunch, which was a bit better than the coffee break as it had some vegetarian options available (but I highly doubt any organic). But the food was not the most important on these moments- we were all hungry for networking, new contacts, getting to know the backgrounds and experiences of each other. All new friends are very welcome on green carpet! :)

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