Day 4 Round-up

Day 4 Friday 30 September 2011

Day 4 included youth plenary sessions based on the title “Rio+20: Who cares”, local field trips to various sites and projects of environmental significance, culminating with young people from over 100 countries underlining the final Bandung Declaration that will be communicated at the Rio+20 Conference, in June 2012.

At the Plenary session Ben Vanpeperstraepe, co-founder of the website www.rioplus20s.org, commented that “States need to feel the pressure”. “The Rio + 20 meetings are in less than a year. Nobody knows about it and nobody cares about it. Before the COP 15 in Copenhagen, States felt they had to deliver something. There were public demonstrations. The general public doesn’t know about Rio+20. If people are not aware, there will be no demonstrations”, he added.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development will take place in Brazil on 4-6 June 2012. “We expect a blueprint on how to move forward for the next 20 years”, says Mr. Vanpeperstraepe. “We have failed in the last 20 years.”

This year, the UNEP Tunza conference is focusing on the Green Economy. “It’s not about a green economy, it’s about a green and fair economy”, rectifies Mr. Vanpeperstraepe. “It’s not just about environment; it is also about social equity”.

During the Plenary session, another speaker, Professor Michael Dorsey reminded the youth that “they are the catalyst of hope” saying “Martin Luther King was in his 20’s when he began fighting”.

Michael Dorsey is a professor of environmental policy at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. According to him, the future is bright because “the Green Economy is growing despite the worldwide depression”. “Green jobs are growing, not at a huge rate, but they are growing”, he said. Mr. Dorsey wants a rethink of the whole economic system. “There was an apocalyptic crash in 2008. The system is not working and we need something else”.

The professor endorses the Green economy saying “it gives us the opportunity to move away from bad technologies, from polluting technologies. Unfortunately, countries like my own don’t take climate change seriously. We haven’t ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Climate change is real. Now, the question is: How bad is climate change going to be?”

The professor also reminded the youth to keep ethics in mind whenever they’re conducting business. “Green jobs have to be humane jobs, decent jobs”, he said. “We can produce organic products using slavery, but that’s not a green job to me.”

Field visits included various environmental and natural sites including Jatiluhur Hydro power plant, Geothermal Energy Star project, Tangkuban Perahu mountain, Tahura Juanda forest, Bosscha observatory and an integrated farming project amongst others.