Elders plus Youngers
In the run-up to the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development in 2012, four Elders joined four young activists to find new ways of thinking on the most urgent issues facing our world today.
What kind of world do we want for our great-great-grandchildren? People, profit and the environment – can we balance them, or do we have to make a choice? Can global summits achieve anything? How do we create change – starting now?
In June 2012 world leaders came together for Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Twenty years on from the first historic Rio Earth Summit, urgent action is now needed to address human and environmental crises on a global scale. It is time for a real, inclusive conversation about the world we are leaving to future generations – and it is vital that today's youth have a voice in the decisions that will affect them for decades to come.
The Elders have always placed great value on listening to and learning from young people in every area of their work.
In April 2012 they joined forces with TckTckTck to launch Elders+Youngers, a series of online debates between four Elders and four 'Youngers': leading climate change activists who are committed to putting sustainable development into practice and working to make sure that young people’s concerns are represented in decision-making at the global level.
Desmond Tutu, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Mary Robinson joined Esther (Nigeria), Marvin (China), Pedro (Brazil) and Sara (Sweden) to discuss what it means to live together sustainably. Read more about the four Youngers.
Elders+Youngers explores what we want our shared future to look like and ideas for how we get there. Open to contributions from people around the world, young and old, the debate began online and continued face-to-face in Rio itself.
Do you think we can address these long-term issues when we’re facing such immediate economic difficulties? Given the sheer scale of the problems, how can we make sure that ordinary people have a voice and a hand in working out the solutions?
Do we need to redefine ‘success’ – or even rethink capitalism itself? Who or what will drive the revolution we need – is it world leaders at big international conferences? Is it new, green business models? Can we do it ourselves?
We want to hear from you. While governments were negotiating, the Elders+Youngers have been exploring practical paths of action and new ways of thinking on the most urgent issues facing our world today. Rio+20 may be over, but the discussion continues – join the debate.
Esther, Marvin, Pedro and Sara are four young leaders committed to putting sustainable development into practice. As climate change activists, they are already working to mobilise their peers and make sure that young people’s concerns are represented in decision-making at the global level.
Known to her friends as 'Esther Climate', Esther Agbarakwe has been an activist since she was ten years old. Esther currently works with Population Action International in Washington DC as an Atlas Corps International Advocacy Fellow. Read her blog.
From litter-picking at school to promoting awareness of climate change issues among his peers, Marvin Nala is motivated by childhood memories of the natural beauty of the West Lake, near Shanghai. A member of the China Youth Climate Action Network, Marvin is currently working with the Adopt a Negotiator Project, tracking international efforts to address climate change. Read his blog.
Growing up hearing the oft-repeated phrase 'Brazil, land of the future', Pedro Telles soon realised that making this aspiration a reality would be the real challenge. He has been working with the Vitae Civilis Institute in São Paulo which aimed to mobilise civil society around the Rio+20 summit. Read his blog.
Rio+20, otherwise known as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, was a summit of world leaders and civil society that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012.
It came twenty years after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, when world leaders committed to promoting a new understanding of development: one that measures progress in terms of social equity and environmental protection, as well as economic growth.
Twenty years on, world leaders and international institutions have failed to deliver on this commitment. For our leaders, Rio+20 was an opportunity to revitalise efforts to put this commitment into practice. For civil society, the summit was a chance to raise the concerns of ordinary people around the world – and especially youth – on the global stage.
As the summit drew to a close, the Elders voiced their dissatisfaction with the Rio+20 declaration – read the statement here.