UN chief asks youth to ‘make some noise’ ahead of Rio+20 conference

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon receives a warm welcome at the opening ceremony of the UNA-USA Global Classrooms International Model UN Conference. UN Photo/E. Debebe

17 May 2012 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today asked young people from all over the world to “make some noise” to help accelerate progress on the negotiations of the United Nations Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20) which will take place in Brazil next month.

“The truth is I am disappointed with the negotiations. They are not moving fast enough. That is why I need you,” Mr. Ban told students attending the 13th Annual Global Classrooms International High School Model UN Conference, taking place at in the General Assembly Hall at UN Headquarters in New York, on Thursday evening. “When I say make some noise, I mean raise your voices. Demand real action. Shame those governments into doing more.”

“We have an ambitious plan for real progress, but we need agreement on tough issues – I told governments to start now, we cannot wait until they get to Rio,” he added.

Earlier this month, representatives from governments negotiating the outcome document for Rio+20 agreed to add five more days of deliberations to bridge differences that have kept them from making further progress in negotiations. The negotiated document, along with voluntary commitments by governments, businesses and civil society, is meant to set the stage for the global community to recommit to sustainable development and agree to concrete actions when they attend Rio+20, from 20 to 22 June.

In his speech, Mr. Ban emphasized the importance of making progress on the negotiations, stressing that decisions made in the next few weeks will have a significant impact on the planet’s future.

“Success will mean light in homes where people live in darkness,” he said. “It will mean food for families that are now hungry. Agreement in Rio will protect our oceans and improve life in cities. It will create progress across our planet.”

Earlier this week, the Secretary-General had asked young people to tell him about the future they want through the online microblogging platform of Twitter. He shared some of their feedback with the audience, noting that he was encouraged and inspired by the comments he received from hundreds of young people.

“Youth have a special ability to demand change. That is why I am coming to you,” he said.

Mr. Ban gave young people a list of a dozen actions they can take to accelerate progress ahead of Rio+20. They included participating in UN youth initiatives, telling their governments what outcomes they want to see at the conference, spreading the message of Rio+20 through their social networks, and organizing events on the conference in their schools and communities.

The three-day Global Classrooms conference has brought together students from around the world to discuss a range of international issues, such the role of women in peace and security, the elimination of racism and xenophobia, and the effects of atomic radiation. This year's event will include a simulation of Rio+20, focusing on climate change, sustainability and the challenges of global environmental stewardship.


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