KATHMANDU, May 31: Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held from June 20 to 22, is a much-awaited event for climate and environment enthusiasts all over the world.
The 20-year follow-up to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil also provides a significant platform for youths all over the world to voice their opinions on the questions regarding sustainable development, the green economy, and poverty eradication, among various other topics.
The Nepali Youth Task Force (NYTF), a group of five young people with Abhishek Shrestha, Jeeban Panthi, Kabita Gautam, Sagar Aryal, and Shreejana Bhattarai, has been working hard to make the voices of Nepali youths heard at this very platform.
All of these members have individually been working on the issues of environment in Nepal and decided to work together for the youth since April 2011.
They have also been working as the Asia-Pacific Youth Task Force along with regional members from other countries of the Asia-Pacific region and are backed up technically by ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development).
“This is a huge opportunity for Nepal as a developing as well as a mountainous country to share its opinions, and the Nepali youths definitely deserve a chance to do so; which is why we decided to work together to mobilize the Asia Pacific Youth focusing on different issues on The Himalaya, inputs on Zero Draft and Status of Nepal in Rio+20,” says 26-year-old Abhishek Shrestha.
Members of the Nepali Youth Task Force namely (L to R) Shreejana Bhattari, Kabita Gautam, Sagar Aryal and Abhisek Shrestha
Jeeban Panthi, 26, says, “There are basically two reasons why I started working on this issue. It is important for the youth of the global south which consists of developing and least developed countries to raise their voices since, along with sustainable development, there are issues of poverty alleviation.
Secondly, Nepal has many natural resources and opportunities for the development of green economy, which is also why awareness should be created.”
The group has also drafted the Asia Pacific Youth Position Paper for Rio+20 and the Asia Pacific Youth Declaration on Climate Change and Sustainable Development which are also published in the website of UNCSD and has been raising our voice for “MOUNTAINS” extending their network from Asia Pacific Region at the global level.
In order to create awareness about Rio+20 as well as the issues of sustainable development among the youths of Nepal, the group has been organizing many different activities in various rural and urban areas of Nepal, such as facilitating a series of regional workshops in Biratnagar, Nepalgunj, and Dhangadi regarding the green economy, mountain agenda, the role and involvement of youth in Rio+20. They have also been organizing interaction and consultation programs for youth.
Kabita Gautam, 25, says, “When we started workshops outside Kathmandu Valley, most young people out there weren’t even aware of the conference or about the issues regarding our mountains and sustainable development. Gradually, we made them aware and helped them find their voices about these issues.”
Just two weeks ago, the Asia-Pacific Youth Task Force, jointly with ICIMOD, Earth Charter and UNCSD MGCY (Major Group of Children and Youth), held a webinar on the Mountain Agenda and Rio+20.
“We had youth from Nepal as well as all over the world participate, especially the Asia-Pacific region, in the discussion of issues regarding the Himalaya and its future.
The speakers such as David Molden, the Director General of ICIMOD, Sameera Zaib from our regional team in Pakistan as well as the participants provided global perspectives on the issue,” says 25-year-old Shreejana Bhattarai.
Activities like these have given the Nepali youth a favorable opportunity to understand the importance of our mountains as well as voice their opinions about it.
There are also other ways through which the Nepali youths can get involved with the Rio+20. Kathmandu+20 (Youth Conference on Sustainable Development) – a wider gathering of Nepali youths in the run-up to the Rio+20 – will be organized on June 2 and 3 by the group along with Worldwide Nepalese Students’ Organization.
“We’re going to continue these events during and post-Rio+20 to discuss the progress, decisions and conclusions made at the conference and how it will affect us.
There will be Skype sessions during the conference and also blogging from us for people who cannot be there physically. After the Rio+20, we’ll continue organizing workshops and interaction programs to share knowledge about it,” mentions 16-year-old Sagar Aryal.
The Nepali Youth Task Force is also going to participate in Youth Blast, the official conference of youth at Rio+20 from June 7 to 12 with the support from ICIMOD, as well as the first Global Youth Forum on Mountain Issues and Sustainable Actions, organized by ICIMOD, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and Mountain Partnership on June 15 in Rio de Janeiro where they will represent the voices of the Nepali youth and will be sharing their experiences and progress.