National Road To Rio+20 Campaign Sri Lanka National Road To Rio+20 Campaign Sri Lanka


The whole world is in a crisis- political instability in the middle east, rising poverty and hunger in Africa, corruption in South East Asia and economic crisis in Europe, but the young people all over the world are worried about the climatic changes which will affect their lives. They, more than anyone else, understand the urgency of finding solutions to our global environmental problems. Presently, the health and wellbeing of millions and millions of youth are at environmental risk. The links between the health of our environment and the socio-economic challenges inspiring the youth to riot are getting clearer each day.


To address these issues bunch of Sri Lankan youth launched the ‘National Road to Rio+20′ campaign in October 2011. The national campaign is an initiative of Sikander Sabeer, who is serving as a director of National Road to Rio+20 campaign, Rehan Fernando and sahan Hottawa which is an initiative of British Council Global Changemakers, National Youth Services Council-Sri Lanka, Colombo Model United Nations and International Road to Rio+20 campaign of Peace Child International and Academy of Design and several other youth led organizations. This Project has been endorsed by UNEP TUNZA, Ministry of Youth Affairs-Sri Lanka.


Rio+20 Earth Summit—our summit— wants our national and sub national governments, as well as businesses and non-government groups, to take science-based, measurable and transformative actions to correct our course on Earth. We have some concrete ideas, and many more”


“The Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development is one of the most important meetings in UN history,” declared the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, recently. “It will help to determine our collective future. Young people can and must play a central role in bringing dynamic new ideas, fresh thinking and energy to the Rio+20 process”. So let all of us together respond to his call in the best way.


Sri Lanka’s Youth Policy Positions for UNCSD/Rio+20


As we draw closer and closer to the Rio+20 Earth Summit, the world has yet to decide on climate agreement. We will delve into what exactly are the real causes and/or problems and deliberate on what possible solutions could be used to address these burning issues.


The key issues revolves around :

  • Fossil Fuel Dependency
  • Unsustainable Consumption & Production
  • The likelihood of a zero-emission future
  • The use of appropriate laws & regulations
  • The need for suitable governance systems
  • Credibility of a Green Economy: possible impacts and whether it could provide real change


In search of answers to all these problems, consultations with the Youth of Sri Lanka have led us to the following key Policy Positions of Sri Lanka.


1. Climate Sustainability


Climate Sustainability addresses dual challenges facing humans: climate change and poverty. The Youth of Sri Lanka understand that these two issues are interlinked. We believe that success in mitigating and adapting to climate change and alleviating poverty is possible through a holistic outreach through climate sustainability as single phenomenon and not by compartmentalizing these interlinked issues. In an effort towards reaching climate sustainability we humans have to behave in a way that brings the ecological system of the planet earth into full consideration, while planning for the wellbeing of our future generations.


2. Equity


The Youth of Sri Lanka argue that a sustainable world would have to be founded on the principle of equity. We believe that every person on the planet have the right to have their share of consumption and production opportunities; right to access their share of resources and the right to a dignified, quality life. We believe in an equitable world, where women, children and youth will not live a life of vulnerability. We call for the re-introduction of the past traditional lifestyles of Sri Lanka, where life was centered around the village, forest, temple, school and tank, which resulted in a more integrated community and equitable distribution of resources. Our aspiration is equality for all, and not the luxury of the twenty percent of the world’s people who enjoy the exploitation of eighty percent of its resources[1]. We as youth are determined that poverty should not have any existence on earth and poverty should be eradicated as the primary responsibility of our generation. We also believe that eradicating poverty will lead towards solving the climate crisis.


3. Sustainable Consumption & Production (SCP)


Agenda 21 (Chapter 4.3) which is and 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”. As one of the main obstacles towards achieving sustainable development, enabling SCP should become a key focus of any newly 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. We the youth in Sri Lanka believe that we have to adopt sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods if we are to survive climate change and resolves the multiple crises of food, fuel and credit.


4. Well-being & Happiness


We believe economic development is not happiness, when excessive resource consumption and environment damage is likely to mean in the future that our children’s children do not even get a chance to be happy. The Youth of Sri Lanka argues that happiness is about self-realization, contentment and sharing: and these are the results of simplicity. The Youth of Sri Lanka argue that wellbeing is the quality of the life that we live, blended with satisfaction of doing what’s right, living according to our needs, sharing and being generous with our resources with others so that they too have a chance at achieving happiness. Thus, we believe that happiness relates to sustainability. What we propose is the development of new indicators of real development. Examples are The Happy Planet Index[2] (HPI) and the Gross National Happiness[3] (GNH). Our policy position is one of achieving happiness through simplicity and sustainability, where true development in today’s world is measured by quality and not quantity.


5. Sufficiency


The Youth of Sri Lanka believe in sufficiency, rather than the ideals of efficiency prescribed by the current Green Economy values. Rather than constantly trying to increase efficiency of resource use without reducing overall resource consumption and exploitation, as has been the case in the dominant discourse, a notion of sufficiency seeks to meet simple needs with minimum waste. Sufficiency also incorporates self-reliance which here means not going beyond the limits of our own resources and contentment which keeps you happy with the resources you have. We believe that sufficiency is the key to a sustainable future. As we see it, not using is better than reducing; being “less bad” is not good enough. While efficiency is an important factor in production of goods, we need to promote non consumerist lifestyles that do not burden the already threatened resources pool. Therefore, the lifestyles of the rich need to be regulated to levels of sustainable consumption which will provide sufficient levels of consumption for the poor.


6. Green Economy


The Youth of Sri Lanka does not believe in a Green Economy (GE) concept which is simply the same market concept with “green labeling”. We do not believe in a GE where the Green Technologies, Green Markets and Green Growth is owned/controlled by the same monopolies i.e. countries and companies leading today’s markets. In such a context, the poor would continue to suffer and the rich would continue to grow. The Youth of Sri Lanka believe in a GE which will develop the quality of life and improve social equity through horizontal growth – whereby growth is distributed amongst many. This would be real sustainability at work. It will also ensure the right-to-development to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.


A Green Economy should be to replace the current economic order of inequity, destruction and greed! Sustainable Economy (or a true 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 the biodiversity of Earth’s ecosystems.


7. Sustainable Development Governance Sustainable Development Governance (SDG) discussions appear to be focused on reforming the International Governance frameworks and mechanisms.


That is a narrow approach that tries to place sustainable development under the care of multilateral governance agencies. Governance of sustainable development essentially needs to be viewed as a decentralized process of action. While policy can be made and rule of law be established at the international, regional and national levels, the implementation of sustainability will remain a make or break reality at the community levels. While global economies and national economies define themselves in growth or green, the community lifestyles out of consumerism will determine the sustainability. SDG essentially needs to be viewed from a community to larger society of nations driven exercise, rather than a mechanism of control at the international level.


The Brundtland Commission in defining Sustainable Development, believed it to be “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generation to meet their own needs”. The just governance of this development has been controversial due to the framework involved as the power lies within the central governments and its agencies along with the UN agencies. The youth of Sri Lanka agree that there should be a transfer of power to the people through decentralization and community governance – and that we should be able to exercise our rights. We argue for reforms in certain institutions of the UN to be called immediately in order to gain better perspectives on SD Governance. We also believe in the importance of decentralized regional bodies such as SAARC and ASEAN where agreements would be more easily reachable than on a comparative global scale.


People value fair, equal treatment and opportunities which causes them to be motivated to keep the fairness maintained within their community and society, thus creating equality. Therefore the youth of Sri Lanka believe people deserve the right to be able to have access to equity and justice to maintain a sustainable development model which is void of crime and inequality.


8. Mindfulness


The Youth of Sri Lanka believe that mindfulness consists of certain elements, which are ultimately a combination of the other Policy Positions mentioned above and below. It involves ensuring the wellbeing of everyone on this planet; sufficiency – echoing elements of self-reliance and contentment; sustainable lifestyles to combat climate change; equity and justice – with regard to the opportunities available for everyone; and happiness. Mindfulness relates to being aware of the consequences of your actions and being considerate of others, in one’s day-to-day lifestyle. If we are to do the right thing, if we are to avert the destruction that will be brought on by climate change, we need to change our current attitudes and lifestyles: which will help us to be more conscious of how we live and behave on our planet.


Details of the initiative
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