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Closing statement by the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) at the Rio+20 UN Conference

By , July 11, 2012 2:13 am

The following is the closing statement by the Major Group for Children and Youth at the UNCSD (MGCY) at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development negotiations, supported by the 8 other civil society Major Groups attending the conference in Rio. While leaders of nations were given many hours to give speeches about the outcomes in Rio, youth and other members of civil society were not allowed even two minutes in the closing session to give their views. That was a big dissapointment for everyone, mostly children and youth.

Major Group for Children and Youth Rio+20 Closing Statement

I want you to imagine a generation that has been damned, imagine children deprived of a world without war, imagine a community where human beings are slaves to fellow beings and where disease and hunger are the order of the day. That is the future we warned you of in 92 and that future, is today.

If these sheets of paper are our common future, then you have sold our fate and subsidised our common destruction. Where was our voice, the voice of our children and grandchildren in this? How can you listen to them in the future if you did not show the will to create the space now?

We have one planet. Our being, our thinking, and our action should not be constrained by national boundaries but by planetary ones. You failed to liberate yourself from national and corporate self-­interest and recognise our need to respect a greater more transcendental set of boundaries.

We came here to celebrate our generation. We have danced, and dreamed, and loved on the streets of Rio and found something to believe in. You have chosen
not to celebrate with us.

You were supposed to show leadership. It was not just your job to seek consensus. It was your responsibility to commit, show ambition and to lead. You have failed.

You have worked hard to close a deal. So, if any of you think this document is the ambitious, action-­‐oriented outcome you said you wanted, please stand up.

If you are unable to stand up, then you must be unwilling to move forward. So we will move forward for you.

We know this:

We need intergenerational cooperation.
We need innovation and creativity.
We need to embrace the values of sustainability, equity, justice and respect for human rights.
We need to recognise that material resources are finite, but human potential is not.

And so,

We will create strong global institutions
We will create new paradigms of wealth and prosperity
We will act as the voice for future generations, one that you so wilfully ignored.
We will stand united beyond borders and bridge the national interests that divide us
We will implement what you have not.

We are moving forward decisively with action. We are not deterred.

The representative of the Major Group for Children and Youth

The Commonwealth Youth Climate Network (CYCN) was at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference

By , July 10, 2012 7:58 pm

Like was the case at the 17th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP17) in Durban, South Africa, the Commonwealth Youth Climate Network (CYCN) has sent a youth delegation to attend the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (www.uncsd2012.org) which took place from June 20th to 22nd in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The conference arrived many days before the High-level segment of the conference in order to join a series of youth-led events and other related activities starting mostly on June 6th. The youth delegation in Brazil has the following members:

Mr. Chola Simwanza (Zambia)
Ms. Raquel Woods (Australia)
Mr. Simon Matafai (New Zealand)
Ms. Anam Gill (Pakistan)
Mr. Jean Paul Brice Affana (Cameroon)
Ms. Slater Jewell-Kemker (Canada)

Apart their role to support the work of the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) at the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) the youth delegates have organized their main activity in a form of a side event entitled ‘’Achieving a sustainable future in Rio: what can do a ‘’Blue Economy’’?. The event was held on 17th June from 19:30pm to 21:00pm at Rio Centro, the conference venue. The delegation also participates in many other activities run by civil society organizations, governments and United Nations agencies. It was the case with the 6th World Youth Congress organized by Peace Child Iinternational; the Youth Blast (known as the official Rio+20 youth conference); the Rio+20 Third Preparatory Committee and the Rio+20 Dialogue Days from 17th to 19th June. Some of the delegates also joined the People’s Summit from 15th to 23rd June at Aterro de Flamengo while one of them has been at the TEDx Rio+20 on the theme ‘’Concentration of thoughts from diverse knowledge areas to understand and analyze Human Power‘’.

Given the role played by some of them and the Commonwealth youth in the implementation of the Rio+20 Global Youth Music Contest, the delegation has been collaborating closely with the organizers and winners of that contest in Rio de Janeiro. The Commonwealth Youth Climate Network (CYCN)’s delegation at Rio+20 has also supported a group of youth from the United Kingdom to organize ”London+20” on June 5th from 10am to 5pm at the British Youth Council in London. The event was organized to build the knowledge of youth from the UK on Rio+20 and also hear from their expectations towards Rio+20. More information about the successfully event as one of the milestone events prior to Rio+20 could be found at http://www.stakeholderforum.org/fileadmin/files/London+20_project%20presentation.pdf

The CYCN delegation at Rio+20 was funded by the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) with technical support from the Commonwealth Secretariat and its Economic Affairs Division. That is one of the reasons why the youth delegates met in Rio with one of the Deputy Secretaries-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Mr. Ransford Smith, during a side event on Small Islands developing States and Ocean Governance organized by the secretariat on June 20th at Rio Centro.

The winners of the Rio+20 Global Youth Music Contest were at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

By ,

The winners of the Rio+20 Global Youth Music Contest attended the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012. The overall winner, the choir Santo Amaro de Oeiras from Portugal who won in the children category with the song “Meu Planeta Azul” (My Blue Planet) along with Ms. Milena Paraschiv and Mr. Radu Popescu from Romania who won in the youth category with the song “Open Your Eyes” have been in Rio to share their message for a better world through their winning entries with all participants to the UN conference.

The contest was organized by the International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges (IAAI) with support from a team of more than 100 global youth organizations, leaders and volunteers. A group of over 50 Regional and National Coordinators have supported the contest as volunteers and reached over 5000 global youth ! The aim was to mobilize youth from all over the world to use music as a powerful tool to activate people around the achievement of a real sustainable world.

By the deadline on the 18th of March, 313 entries from 40 participating countries were received, coming from Kenya, China, Cameroon, Trinidad and Tobago, Rwanda, Seychelles, Burkina Faso, Spain, Columbia, USA, Nigeria, Germany, Romania, Australia, Gambia, etc. These amazing songs prove that youth don’t care about borders when comes the time to address global challenges. United despite their diversity, the participants committed themselves to ensure the sustainability of our mother earth through their music, while they decided to engage themselves in creating the change they believe in. These entries bring those who take the time to watch them in a wonderful world where a real sustainable world is possible !

The winners in each category of the contest were chosen through an online voting process from March 19th to May 19th with over 250.000 online votes registered. The songs which received the top among of votes won the contest and their authors have been confirmed to perform and receive their awards at the Rio+20 UN Conference as stated in the contest rules. The winning songs have called the United Nations system and the world citizens on the role we all have to play to ensure a sustainable planet for all by mobilizing our power and energy. Global youth has a key role to play here and therefore they need to be heard and empowered.

Milena Paraschiv one of the winners said “This is one of the best experiences I have ever had and I think it’s great that we could send our musical message to so many people. And I am really glad that we were able to meet so many people from diverse places and make friends. It reminds me of the song by John Lennon, Imagine all the people living in peace. It’s great to be in Rio.

The contest was also supported in its development by the Commonwealth Youth Climate Network (CYCN) which also collaborated with the organizers at Rio+20. The Global Coordinator of the initiative being Mr. Jean Paul Brice Affana, a youth leader from Cameroon. Some of the National and Regional Coordinators of the contest were also coming from Commonwealth member states, such as Mr. Chola Siwamza from Zambia, Mr. Simon Matafai from New Zealand, Ms. Anam Gill from Pakistan, Mr. Garry T. Perry from Trinidad and Tobago, among others.

The winners have performed on June 23rd, 2012 at the ’Concert for a New Earth’ along with other artists such as Playing for Change, Milton and Maria Gadu, two very famous musicians in Brazil. The concert was organized by Peace Lights at the Teatro Fundicao Progresso in Rio de Janeiro. Photos of that concert could be accessed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.463412430353192.116146.275439455817158&type=3 and the videos on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laRBLF3zcuM&feature=plcp

To listen to the messages of global youth on The Future We Want and to ’’Let the music talk, let the rhythm play and let the world know what the youth have to say !‘’, go to the Facebook page where you will be able to access all the photos at: https://www.facebook.com/media/albums/?id=275439455817158 and for the videos go to YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/iaaiglocha/videos

The Commonwealth Youth Climate Network at the 17th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17)

By , January 10, 2012 2:15 am

From 28th November to 10th December 2011, six members of the Commonwealth Youth Climate Network (CYCN) attended the two weeks of the 17th Conference Of Parties at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) as well as the 7th Conference Of Youth (COY7) from 25th to 27th November which all took place in the city of Durban, South Africa. The main goal was to increase the awareness on the network and the activities undertaken by its members at the conference. The objectives were to promote the network as a viable umbrella of youth organizations working on climate change and sustainable development; increase its membership by incorporating transformational leaders from across the Commonwealth; create a strategic partnerships aiming to further develop the scope of the work undertaken by the network, and finally improve the participation of youth from the Commonwealth at the UN negotiation process on climate change.

The network team in Durban was composed with the following youth, representing different Commonwealth countries:

Ms. Esther Agbarakwe (Nigeria)
Mr. Garvin B. Perry (Trinidad and Tobago)
Ms. Sarika Katoch (India)
Mr. Chola Simwanza (Zambia)
Mr. Jean Paul Brice Affana (Cameroon)
Mr. Rishab Khanna (India)

From its preparation to its participation, the team received full support from Mrs. Helen Jones and Mr. Vic Craggs from the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council (CYEC) and from Mr. Layne Robinson from the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP). Their assistance consisted on the preparation of the team plans’ for Durban and a financial support covering airfare and local costs for three of the six members as well as other logistic arrangements in Durban. A communication channel has been established using emails and phone calls to maintain the contact between both teams. They also supported the youth delegates in Durban for all printing of promotional materials such as flyers, posters and reports of activities that were used and distributed in Durban.

Given his role as Focal Point of the Youth Constituency at the UNFCCC in 2011, Mr. Jean Paul Brice Affana, has facilitated accreditation to the COP17 for three members of the network with Abibimman Foundation and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS). He also arranged a free visa to South Africa for the same people upon arrival at the borders and ensured that the network members register for the COY7; get a booth for exhibition of their work inside the COP17 venue as well as get a space for a side event and slots at the “Climate Change Studio”. He also facilitated the CISCO TelePresence session which took place.

The first involvement of the CYCN was at the COY7 held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal-Durban (www.youthclimate.org/coy7). There, the representatives of the network who arrived firstly separately did an exhibition of some of their local/national activities during the three days of the conference. There was an exhibition area where youth were invited to promote their activities, organizations, networks and publications. The CYCN used this space and also join other activities including plenary, thematic workshops, open discussions and social activities. All these spaces enabled them to learn more about the Youth Constituency at the UNFCCC as well as why and how global youth effective participation in the UNFCCC negotiations processes is important. Many workshops took place for capacity-building with a number of plenary for group and general sessions.

At the COP17 (www.cop17-cmp7durban.com), the network had activities from 28th November to 10th December inside the Durban Convention Centre and the Durban Exhibition Centre. The team first of all met and greet during a first contact meeting that took place two times according to members’ arrival in Durban. A daily attendance of the Youth Constituency (YOUNGO) meetings every morning from 8:00am-9:00am enabled the team to be up to date with the planning of all youth activities related to the negotiations. These meetings helped to promote the network within YOUNGO constituents and their major working groups. Network members have also learnt from other global youth leaders how the lobby process at the UNFCCC works by participating in other capacity building sessions and daily briefings. Attendance of the Global Campaign for Climate Action (GCCA) meetings was also encouraged among members. Other important activities have been the following:

1. A public exhibition of the network at the Durban Exhibition Centre during the 2 weeks of the COP17, located at Abibimman Foundation booth near the Youth booths area. This exhibition was selected by the UNFCCC through the youth foundation from Ghana who agreed to support the network and give it a place at the booth where promotional materials on the network were distributed.

2. A presentation of the network at the ‘’Climate Change Studio’’ opens at the Durban Exhibition Centre and where individuals and organizations were interviewed briefly by medias covering the COP17 on their actions, solutions, observations and issues that have impact on climate change. The network got two slots from 10.30am to 10.50am each. The interview was filmed, edited and broadcast on Climate Change TV and also catalogued in a fully searchable database with other interviews from experts, decision makers, activists, etc.

3. A side event in collaboration with Abibimman Foundation took place at the Durban Exhibition Centre on Thursday 1st December from 20:15pm to 21:45pm that members of the network attended and had a chance to exchange with participants there and present their actions. The side event has been approved by the UNFCCC Secretariat and was submitted by the youth foundation from Ghana which applied on behalf of the network after receiving a request from its members. Co-hosting the side event has enabled to highlight the network and the Commonwealth actions on climate change with youth contribution to find the most sustainable solutions.

4. A CISCO TelePresence session on youth participation at the COP17 facilitated by YOUNGO took place on Thursday 8th December from 3.00pm to 4.00pm at the Durban Convention Centre. It served as an avenue to present the network and connect participants in Durban with other cities like London and Singapore, respectively joined by some staff members of the CYEC and a youth member of ECO-Singapore.

5. Participation in a World Café Workshop which brought together youth from around the globe ranging from Singapore, South Africa, Japan, Canada, USA and Trinidad and Tobago among other nations to discuss their unique perspective on the impact of climate change on the earth left each participant with a profound understanding of a need for the youth to work towards an unified campaign to promote the need for resolution and bounding agreements at the high level talks.

6. Some members of the network have been supporting the ‘’I Love KP (Kyoto Protocol)’’ T-shirts campaign which consisted for people to dress with T-shirts showing their support to a second period commitment for the Kyoto Protocol. The campaign got important international media coverage and attracted a lot of public attention. At the end the negotiators considered the request.

7. The participation of the CYCN in a United Nations Alternative Energy Project show casing the use of solar heaters in local areas of South Africa and implemented by UN gave some of the team members the opportunity to visit, observe and participate in such project mitigating the impacts of climate change by the effective use of alternative energy. This opportunity allowed the network to have a visibility in the distant areas of the city of Durban.

Another opportunity to promote the CYCN was a local Tree Planting Project in Durban on Sunday 4th December, when the team had the opportunity to visit a local township in Durban and get hands together to plant trees for climate mitigation. The team in Durban also had a meeting and a photo session with Ms. Kristen Dukes, Miss Earth South Africa 2011 to whom they proposed to become Ambassador of the network for future activities. They also had a discussion with Mr. Christopher Palmer who is coordinating the ‘’Climate Champions’’ programme at the British Council and his team.

Regarding the official process of the COP17, the team was following the negotiations and also attended some parts of the High-level Segment of the COP in addition to the briefings organized for civil society or youth by the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Mrs. Christina Figueres, the Chairs of the Convention bodies (AWG-LCA, AWG-KP, SBI and SBSTA) and by the President of COP17/CMP7, Mrs. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of External Relations of South Africa. The CYCN members tried when possible to have meeting with representatives of their national delegations at COP17. They encouraged other youth leaders and their organizations to get involve with the network to increase its membership. A membership form was distributed inside the COP’s venues and during youth meetings in order to collect contact details of interested people to join. After the COP17, the network started to plan its participation at the Rio+20 UN Conference in June 2012 in Brazil.

Young people take the lead on climate change topic at the CYF7

By , December 10, 2009 4:56 pm

Set in the grand and impressive venue of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the 7th Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF7) which brought together young people from around the world took place, at a crucial time in climate negotiations. Along with the help of the secretariat, a motivated group of young people organised this event to give youth the space to feed into the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which recently took place in Trinidad and Tobago.

Spanning over three days, the event symbolised the integral role that young people should take in deciding how future policies on climate change should be shaped. The significance of the meeting was reflected in the range of keynote speakers who attended, such as Baroness Kinnock, Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who expressed the importance of young people’s role in campaigning.

As well as talks held by important officials, the delegates were grouped together to explore different areas of climate change policies and how young people in their communities could be educated about these issues and mobilized to encourage more environmentally friendly lifestyle choices. The delegates generated lively discussions with anecdotal evidence of their communities’ activities; sharing lessons learnt and possible ways to progress. Advocating the use of renewable energy sources as well as including climate change awareness into school curriculum were a couple of the strong ideas put forward.

The event culminated in the delegates producing a set of clear recommendations for the leaders at CHOGM to ensure young people are at the forefront of the fight to tackle climate change.

News

By , September 19, 2009 4:45 pm

Foreign-OfficeBritain’s top government office endorses ‘CommonClimate Initiative’, ahead of the Young Commonwealth Climate Summit in London, United Kingdom.  The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has approved ‘mutual partnership’ in support of the Young Commonwealth Climate Change Summit, and help facilitate the establishment of the ‘CommonClimate Initiate’.  This will accelerate the Commonwealth’s attempts to tackle the pressing challenge of climate change  and signals a proactive role for young people in negotiating possible solutions to tackle Climate Change. The Secretariat Coordinator of the Summit Messeh Kamara said the partnership with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office was an “important achievement” and a significant measure taken by a  top British government office to deal with the global challenge, and unite the next generation of global leaders and influencers and strengthen intergenerational collaboration on world challenges. The ‘CommonClimate Initiative’,  is a sustainable programme of the Summit for young Commonwealth climate leaders linked through a dedicate online platform offering a facility to share expertise, develop collaborative projects and support one another, with key roles and responsibility assumed by summit delegates. This site will also provide a resource for other development practitioners and young people worldwide.

CPSU News

By , July 15, 2009 1:59 pm

Project Intern Position – Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Conference

13/07/09 12:49CPSU is looking for an enthusiastic and reliable intern to help with preparations for the Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Conference.  You will be involved in all aspects of organising this event.  Experience of organising events and an interest in international affairs and/ or issues surrounding climate change will be an advantage for potential candidates.  Further information about CPSU is available from the website at  http://www.cpsu.org.uk.

 If you would like to apply for this internship post please email a brief cover letter and CV to mike.smith@sas.ac.uk.

What is the Commonwealth Youth Climate Network (CYCN) ?

By , May 31, 2009 11:17 am

Many of you keep asking: what is The Commonwealth Youth Climate Network (CYCN) ?

The Youth Position Paper on Climate Change that was developed by the Commonwealth to provide the base for wider discussions and open doors for youth to play a part in tacking climate change emphasizes the necessity for inclusion of concrete action plans which involve youth as key actors of their effective implementation. The paper has a number of proposals which encourage the Commonwealth member states to fulfil their commitments and to make climate change a top priority while engaging as many stakeholders as possible. Part of this priority includes the role of youth as negotiators in lobbing Governments to promote education on climate change [and for sustainable development] at the national level and the participation of youth in all political forums and high-level policy meetings where they can explore avenue to include climate change issue into the discussions and as well as encourage policy makers to act and set legally binding targets for reducing emissions and promote environmental protection. The capacity building, exchange of information, education and training on climate change for youth, by youth and with youth is also highlighted in the paper.

To coordinate this effort it has been suggested the idea of creating a Commonwealth youth network on climate change to be a strategic umbrella in mobilizing youth across the Commonwealth and engaging them into projects, activities, research, information and networking days, campaigns, training sessions and others. This also aimed to the mapping of Commonwealth youth leaders and organizations working to respond to climate change and ensure the sustainability of our communities worldwide.

In 2009 the idea became a reality with the set up of the Commonwealth Youth Climate Network (CYCN). The network which aim to build the capacity of youth from the Commonwealth countries, and especially young climate activists, leaders, professionals and their organizations in order to increase their active role in fighting climate change. The same year the Commonwealth Secretariat hold a launching summit in London which attracted more than 150 young people from across the Commonwealth and featured workshops, panel discussions and presentations from partners’ activities. In 2010, one year after the set up of the initiative, a group of 10 leading young activists on climate issues from the network met again during a week to share learning, experiences, visit various projects implemented by others and also plan the production of a practical learning resource for their work. The week-long project was possible with support from the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council and the Commonwealth Secretariat and that is how the idea to develop a toolkit was empowered with its focus on several topics like education, advocacy, personal climate action, climate action project as well as leadership and transformation.

Expanding the network and linking actions that young people across the Commonwealth are already doing locally and nationally is one of the main goals of the network so that it has a collective impact and positively affect change toward a sustainable future. The international advocacy plans of the network seeks to form an unified front on climate issues, presenting clear, consistent messages that reflect the diversity of experience amongst young citizens from the Commonwealth. The members believe that they can increase their influence on policy in their individual countries and internationally, both in Commonwealth agenda and other global spaces such as the UNFCCC, UNCBD and UNCSD processes. The members advocate in developing a clear and shared vision for the future of youth in the Commonwealth, so that they can save succeeding generations from the impacts of climate change. They intend to work together to shape the Commonwealth agenda on climate change, attract other partners and prepare mutual partnership between young people and policy makers.

Today the network has increased its membership and count several countries including Australia, India, Canada, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Zambia, Maldives, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Vanuatu, Cameroon, Tuvalu, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, Singapore, Ghana, Nepal … Membership is open to willing individuals and organizations from across the Commonwealth working and interested to work on climate change and sustainable development. They connect to share their expertise and support each other, take action and influence change through their collective voice.

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