The Rio+20 Summit is in full swing and the Sri Lankan arm has taken its first initiative, in which a statement has been presented to the Minister of Environment. Post-war Sri Lanka certainly is in need of a system of sustainable development and at this stage the country has a fresh start in which adopting such a system is relatively trouble free; or so it should be.
The statement that encapsulates several vital areas in sustainable development was drafted by over 30 youth-led and youth-focus local organizations that are involved in environmental conservation, management, climate change, sustainable development and advocacy for environmental issues. Bringing these organizations together and orchestrating Sri Lanka’s participation in the Rio Summit, is the Youth for a Greener Sri Lanka (YGSL) that was established earlier this year (March 2012). The statement is a position paper on which future projects will be based. The paper was presented to the Ministry of Environment, as the ministry had arranged for the involvement of youth groups in the process. Nashen Gunesekera, the drafting committee chair, says it shows the enthusiasm of the government as other governments had not involved environmental conscious volunteer groups, apart from the ministry’s own.
Attaining sustainable development
A large team of local environmentally conscious youths has formulated a multipronged action plan, addressing several key areas that are intrinsic in the development of a nation. Top of the list and under the umbrella of youth policy positions, the statement mentions society’s role in sustainable development. The activists believe that equality is essential, they explained “our aspiration is equality for all, and not the luxury of the 20 per cent of the world’s people who enjoy the exploitation of 80 per cent of its resources.”
Well-being and happiness as well as right mindfulness were also highlighted as the cornerstone to sustainable development. Society being at the heart of development, even with an extraordinary physical plan, it cannot fruition sans the right mindset of the people.
The economy is another key area that needs to be addressed, and therefore, the team included environmental sustainability and poverty reduction, and a Green Economy in the statement. YGSL explains, “A Green Economy should replace the current economic order of inequity, destruction and greed. A Green Economy should be an economic system that ensures social equity, protects the ecological balance and creates economic sufficiency. The core idea of a Green Economy should be to enforce sustainability, specifically the wellbeing of all people and respecting and preserving the biodiversity of Earth’s ecosystems.
A green economy manages consumption and production in an environmentally conscious manner. The document indicated, Agenda 21 (Chapter 4.3), which is an outcome of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED 1992) states that; “The major cause of the continued deterioration of the global environment is the unsustainable pattern of consumption and production, particularly in industrialized countries, which is a matter of grave concern, aggravating poverty and imbalances.” According to the team enabling the SCP should be the focus of any emerging international outcome. SCP is a systemic process of lifestyle and livelihood behaviours that ensures the wellbeing of all people in an equitable manner while conserving the ecology for current and future generations.
Political solutions are on the cards as well as sustainable development governance, which they said, “We understand Sustainable Development Governance should necessarily create platforms at every level for the voice of youth to be heard and to be considered within the decision making processes, for it is on the shoulders of youth the responsibility rests.”
On that note they believe it is necessary to establish an office for the ombudsperson — high commission for future generations. “We the youth representatives of Youth for a Greener Sri Lanka understand that there is a lacuna in current decision making processes and institutions of the world, especially as all of them fail to consider the long term effects of decisions made today. The proposal stated at paragraph 57 of the Zero Outcome document calling for the establishment of an Ombudsperson/High Commissioner for Future Generations is thus an opportunity to meet this short coming and by establishing such an office, we believe that both the aspirations of youth and future generations will be protected.”
How Sustainable Development Can be Achieved
The team also presented a set of recommendation that can be adopted by the Government of Sri Lanka as well as the governments in the international arena. They laid emphasis on the inclusion of the youth at all levels of decision making so the future can be shaped to suit the next generation better. The team expressed, “We wish to state by participation, youth are empowered and are given the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential hence enabling them to harness their skills required to move the world toward the paradigm shift which is necessary to achieve economic growth, social equity and environmental sustainability.”
Employment for the youth is also mandatory for a better greener future, according to the local Rio+20 Summit members. “At present there is a lack of green job initiatives and access to green skills training programmes for young people. We believe bridging the skills gap among young people through improved education and training will be a key to achieving environmental objectives and a transition to a green economy.”
Education and training — skills development opportunities, the opportunity for youth to volunteer to achieve sustainable development.
The President will present the paper as part of the country report at the summit. Neshan Gunesekara said, “The international community will analyze, scrutinize and criticize the paper. The point of presenting the paper at an international forum is so that other countries can take stock of what Sri Lanka has achieved over the years and adopt some of these strategies that will help them.
He added that, he personally believes that the youth of Sri Lanka is very environmentally conscious, and they have shown an initiative but what they lack, is the support of the government and other authorities, in implementing plans and taking their concerns into consideration.
Well, that’s good news for BB too. Having particular goals will help us channel our efforts in these areas and those connected to contribute to sustainable development in Sri Lanka. It should also make devising project plans easier. So three cheers to our Rio paper!
Meg is a member of the steering committee of Beyond Borders. She’s a journalist and a world class klutz. She blogs here. Her opinions are her own.
Beyond Borders is doing another Forum Theatre for the Rotaract District 3220 ‘HIV & YOUth’ campaign (which targeted the urban and suburban youth through workshops, movie screenings and the forum theatre performances from October to December this year) on Friday, December 10th at 6.30pm at Punchi Theatre.
The forum theatre for this campaign is called ‘Who turned the lights off?’ This Forum Theater tackles the subjects in relation to the topics discussed at the ‘HIV & YOUth’ campaign workshops and movie screenings. It touches on topics such as information needs and level of awareness about HIV and Sexual Reproductive Health amongst youth, misconceptions, stigma and discrimination in relation to HIV. It takes you through the decisions, dilemmas and downfalls of our protagonist Ishanka, a Young girl who is challenged and disgraced by her peers, family and the society after being found HIV+. It will be an evening of exciting infotainment and learning.
The Forum Theatre which is also the closing ceremony for the ‘HIV & YOUth’ campaign and is open for all Youth, Activists or anyone who is interested in such topics/issues.
Entrance is on invitation only. For invitations for the FT on the 10th December please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 077-1952257.
We are now calling for applications for young people between the ages 18 to 24 who are passionate about social and development issues and wanting a platform. Please find out about who we are and what we do (but considering that you’re here reading this, we would assume you would know these things), and if you are interested in joining us, do the following:
- Email us to recruitments[at]beyondborders.lk a brief description of yourself, including your name (obviously), contact details, educational background, extra curricular activities you did (tell us what you did, not the groups you were a member of) and if you’ve worked anywhere, details of that. Keep the description to a maximum of 300 words.
- Write 300 words on something you are extremely passionate about, or something you want to work on in your life. This is not a test of your writing skills; we just need to make sure that you will enjoy getting involved with BB. If you have an idea, but no idea how to implement it, you can write about that and we might provide you the platform to do so.
The current recruitment drive closes applications on the 12th of September, so make sure that you send your applications in before that. We will have a look at it, and we’ll conduct informal interviews on the 19th and 20th of September. So make sure that you keep at least an hour free on one of those days.
Unlike many other organizations, canvassing will actually get you places. We want to ensure that you’re energetic and that you want to get things done, so if you manage to convince us that you are what we’re looking for, well good for you. Have a look around the blog, and pop over to our website as well.
A Forum Theater Performance on Learning Disabilities
- Date: 29th August 2009
- Time: 10.00am to 12.00pm
- Venue: Punchi Theatre, Borella
Entrance by invitation only, if you want one email us to info[at]beyondborders.lk with a couple of lines explaining your interest in attending the play.
What is Forum Theatre?
Forum theater began when Augusto Boal had the brilliant idea of allowing the audience to stop, modify and change the course of his drama performances; enhancing the overall experience of everyone involved in a novel manner. Today, this particular branch of theatre is known as Forum Theater.
FT is useful in bringing out complex issues attached to sensitive social topics and has been used by Beyond Borders to highlight a range of social issues during the last few years.
What is ‘Jerk?’
This time around the Forum Theater tackles the tricky subject of the misconceptions and issues facing youngsters with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It takes you through the roller coaster ride of our protagonist Rajeev, as he copes with the effects of ADHD and society’s often antagonistic reactions to it. It will be a morning of exciting infotainment and learning.
For invites call
0777 491 718 or 0777 335 320 (limited invites)
or email us info[at]beyondborders.lk
TEDxColombo which we invited our readers for, went off quite well. The audience was good, and the speakers on board for the event did it justice and it sparked some controversy. All in a good day’s work.
While we’re awaiting approval from TED to put the videos up, we do have a few photos from the event up over at our flickr stream. If you’d like to get a glimpse of the ‘conversation’ after TEDx Colombo, see the dedicated twitter account.
You may question if it’s worth creating a commotion about the single death of a promising young life when hundreds more are dying due to the effects of the three decade long war that has plagued the nation? I believe it’s worth every word of it as identifying and advocating for a solution to a potential problem is the key to the actual solution of the problem itself.
Sri Lanka has slowly but surely evolved a gun culture of its own. This adversarial trend is making it more and more apparent that a local version of a Columbine High School type shooting is not too far away. So what are the reasons behind this sudden phenomenon? How did it start and when will it end? I don’t have the answers for all these questions, but I would try to shed some light on the issue to the best of my ability.
“Youth” by nature have been gifted with abundance of energy which should be effectively dispersed in order to attain social stability. The country’s development lies on the strong shoulders of this element of society as does the countries downfall. This makes it important to empower the youth with correct resources and tools to foster their energy into channels which could yield benefits for all stake holders of a society.
YaTV’s Sri Lanka Today program featured this blog and others on a segment of Citizen’s journalism.
Bloggers and Colombo creative-types are doing this Open Mic thing today. Some of us will be there. Here’s a glimpse of our contribution for the evening..
Kiddin.. but We will be there. You should too. More info about the whole thing is found on Indi’s blog.