(Hopefully) Beginning the Road to Rio+20

I’m in the middle of completing my detailed review of 2011 (a la Chris Guillebeau) and setting goals for 2012, one of which is to travel to Brazil for Rio+20, June 20-22. Part of this trip will hopefully include the Sixth World Youth Congress, happening June 4-13; to make this happen, I just completed a last-minute application to be a delegate in the Congress. Here are some of my responses to the application explaining why I want to go – hope I’m picked for the WYC!

Please explain why you want to come to the 6th World Youth Congress? *
I want to represent and act on behalf of American youth and aim to do so by understanding how decisions made at the top affect every community, human and nonhuman. This year people across the world demanded accountability, fair representation and leaders who would fight for their best interests; these are demands I’d give the highest priority if chosen to be a delegate this year.Overall, my main objective in attending the World Youth Congress would be to connect with international youth and discover how we can work together to solve the economic, environmental and human rights issues of our time.
Please tell us your thoughts on the themes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (also known as ‘Rio+20’ & ‘Earth Summit 2012’), namely (A) the Green Economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development; (B) institutional framework for sustainable development? *
I’m pleased with the theme choices for Rio+20 because the issues surrounding them are fundamental in understanding how to best address them, as well as the overarching issue of climate justice, which addresses all socioeconomic and environmental issues.Educating and empowering communities most impacted by climate change will train them to become leaders in the sustainable future. The institutional framework acknowledges how accountability and action must be taken at every level; by doing so, we will effectively restore global socioeconomic and environmental health.Taking both themes into account, my biggest concern for Rio+20 is that our leaders will forget the priorities of the people and the planet, and listen instead to the polluters, corporations and the rich. By attending the World Youth Congress, I want to remind them who they represent and what we’re fighting for: a sustainable, just world.
What do YOU bring to the Congress? *
Some of my proudest achievements happened this year, including driving across the US with the No Tar Sands Caravan to get arrested at the White House for Tar Sands Action, as well as traveling by myself to Durban, South Africa for COP 17. While these events will never be appropriate for a resume, I believe they should be regarded as such because of how profoundly they changed my life. I went from a wide-eyed activist, too shy to even call a senator, to a fearless agent of change, acting with the urgency and creativity needed to solve the socioeconomic and environmental issues of our time.What I hope to act as in this Congress is the glue that connects us through common passions and challenges, holds us accountable to each other and the communities we represent, and keeps us focused on and energized for the many tasks ahead of us.
What do you want to take from the Congress? *
I hope to learn from other international youth – to understand their sociopolitical and environmental priorities, and how they may differ from what their leaders are advocating. I also hope to leave with a renewed sense of urgency and fresh breath of creativity and inspiration, which always comes with meeting so many bright people with different approaches to battling climate change and the like.
What actions do you plan to take when you return home from the Congress? *
Overall, my personal goal is to do as much educating/informing about environmental issues as I do acting upon them. I plan on blogging and writing extensively before, during and after both the WYC and Rio+20, as well as release video PSAs, news and other updates regarding the conferences. I also plan to lobby my representatives throughout the year to ensure they know how I feel about these issues, and that I will hold them accountable to their constituents and the greater global community. Lastly, I will make sure the voices of the international youth are heard in every project and campaign I involve myself, so that we can achieve our goal of a sustainable, just world as soon as possible.

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