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RIO+20 The Future We Want

RIO+20 the future we want

Archbishop Tutu: The Future I Want

Archbishop Tutu

Let me start with a Kenyan proverb. It was shared with me and my fellow Elders by a young activist from the Middle East:

"The world was not given to you by your parents; it was lent to you by your children."

These words tell you everything about the future I want –all the things people want for their own children, and for their children's children: A fair society. A healthy planet. Clean air. Safe drinking water. Good jobs. Energy security. Food security.

The right to develop in a sustainable way.

A world without poverty.

And here's a demand I always go on about: I want a world run by women! Women have it in their DNA to bring to birth, to nurture, gently and caringly. We need this. If you think that is weak, you have to go to Liberia and see how women, without guns, ended the war! And until we have a world run by women, I want equality for girls and women.

The proverb I shared with you at the start was sent to us as we Elders debated this very question, about the future we want, with some bright young activists: Esther from Nigeria, Sara from Sweden, Marvin from China and Pedro from Brazil. Our dialogue is called 'Elders+Youngers', and our sights are firmly set on the rare, beautiful opportunity offered by the Rio summit – and all the hard work that will come afterwards.

For an oldie like me, it really is quite awesome to hold a conversation with such amazing young people, which spans the planet, digitally, and bridges generations.

It speaks to a whole realm of possibility and reminds us that ultimately, the planet we will have in twenty years is rooted in the opportunities we offer today’s youth – and there are three billion of them. Half the world.

My fellow Elders have been expressing concern at the state of negotiations in the run-up to the Rio summit, and have urged world leaders not to squander this chance.

But the incredible talent and energy of these bright young people also fills me with hope. If we can give them a head start, I believe their generation can bring about the future we want, with leaders who will be bolder, more global in their outlook and more committed to making decisions for the common good.

They can succeed where we will have failed.

If these young people end up in charge, my great-great-grandchildren will really be in good hands.

Desmond Tutu is Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, a Nobel Peace Laureate and Chair of The Elders, independent global leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights.