Greetings From Rio!

Hello WYA Members,

The WYA Delegation has officially arrived in Brazil for Rio+20! Thousands have gathered in this beautiful city to come together to speak about the need for sustainable development, looking at its environmental, social, and political implications. Working as an intern with the World Youth Alliance, I arrived this morning bright and early at the conference and was immediately thrown into the conversation. I had the pleasure of sitting in on both the Negotiations during the final session of the Preparatory Committee as well as a couple of Side Events. It was incredible to participate in both, since it became very clear as to the ways in which these two separate forums paralleled each other in terms of the goals they achieved.

On the one hand, the negotiations are really where the important developments regarding the final document will take place, and it serves as the meeting point for hundreds of delegates from across the world. On the other hand, the side events are really where youth are given the chance to speak. There are hundreds of meetings on all sorts of issues, and as one speaker said today, “The youth need to spend the next ten days fighting for their rights.”

Today’s experience has been exhaustingly wonderful, and it’s very clear that there is much in store for the following couple weeks. Whether or not consensus will emerge between the world’s leaders, or if the youth will in fact, achieve the rights that they are looking for, is a different question. More than anything, I realized today how much WYA’s presence is fundamental to the work that is being done here in Rio. Rio+20, with all of its meetings and negotiations, needs the presence of youth in order to put the dignity of the human person first. We can speak about biodiversity, education, health, gender, etc., but only if there is a resolve to strive for true development in service of the needs of the person. It was clearly demonstrated today that we have not yet understood this, since on many occasions today, I witnessed the discussion often collapsing into a semantic argument without invoking any real commitments.

My time at Rio has only just begun, but more than ever it is clear to me that the voice for human dignity as the reference point for all sustainable development needs to be heard. I am extremely grateful for being able to see it all first hand, and my hope in these next couple weeks will be to participate in this conversation as much as possible, constantly beginning from this most human need for authentic personal development. Let us walk together, all across the world, with this on our minds.

And so the adventure begins…

Adam

Intern

Toronto, Canada