Brice Lalonde: "We need youth's imagination"

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“Youth, it is important to do something in your home country even if you can’t be in Rio”, this is one of the advice that Brice Lalonde, Executive Coordinator of Rio+20, gave to young people on Friday during the first live social media video event ahead of the Rio+20 Conference, taking place in 3 weeks. “Never youth has been more associated in the negotiations”, he noted.

“Make some noise.” This was the request of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he urged young people to help push negotiations in preparation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20). To help encourage youth participation, a live Google Hangout with Mr Brice Lalonde has been organised on 1 June by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA).

Participants from all over the world asked questions, five of them being members of NGOs, associations or Rio+20 delegations. A lot of questions also came during the video chat from the social media, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. “I am very excited to participate in such an event, I think that it is important to create a link between the youth and the institutions like the UN. Young people often see those conferences as complicated and unaccessible. It is our responsibility to help them being part of this international community of people trying to do something,” said Brice Lalonde just before the Hangout.

The Conference still doesn’t have an agreement on the final document (the draft outcome document, on which delegates and Heads of States could agree to during the Conference). An additional week of consultations has been added and is taking place at the UN headquarters with Member States, until 2 June.

“You, the young generation, are the actors of change. Rio+20 is about your future and this time we need people to stand, to challenge, to inspire, to dream, to see beyond what is currently accepted by the elders,” he said.

Get involved in Rio+20

This is a very critical time. The live event has provided representatives of youth groups and the public from all over the world with a venue to ask questions about how they can take part, discuss their hopes for the conference and get involved in the debate.

“At Rio, we would like to see widespread endorsement of and commitment to green growth with clear timelines and means of financing these commitments,” said Michael, 27, a participant who is the founder of a Ghaniaian-based NGO. 

“I hope that Rio+20 helps society to face the current ethical crisis, which is the origin of all other crisis we must deal with,” said Cassia, 22, from Brazil, founder of Rio+Veg.

“I hope to see more cooperation and less negotiation. I hope to see decisions taken for the long term interest,” said Alexandre, 26, from France, founder of MyCity+20.

“We need to have everybody involved. We have to invent new ways of discussing. Rio+20 is going to be about very simple things that we have to organize in the next years. How do we produce food without using more land, how can we have fishes in the oceans, how can we live in cities for the next 20 years, how can we organise transport, very simple everyday life problems that we have to solve together. If we don’t solve those very simple problems, then we will have difficulties retaining climate and biodiversity. We need imagination, we need to think out-of-the-box, and we need the youth for that,” concluded Brice Lalonde.

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