My City+20 Youth take over Rio+20: My City+20

How the youth can take over Rio+20!


Rio+20 will undoubtedly be a milestone in the history of international negotiations and this represents an opportunity that must be seized in order for others to take notice of the youth and for us to be a prominent part of future conferences.


But, how can you mobilize the youth to act in Rio+20? How can the youth be empowered to deal with sustainable development issues?


Borrowing from our experience of a simulation of the Copenhagen negotiations on climate change organized by Sciences Po in 2011, we arrived at the conclusion that giving the youth a taste of the UN negotiations was the best way to pique their interest. In this context, we decided to organize a simulation in Paris of the upcoming conference in Rio de Janeiro this June.


Our project is thus aimed at mobilizing the youth, educating them on the urgency of sustainable development issues and encouraging them to involve themselves in the negotiation process, albeit from a distance. At our simulation, we will test new methods of negotiation and will arrive at some potential outcomes. Through our experimentation, we will come up with innovative ideas that can restructure the UN processes and restore hope in them. UNESCO, our partners in the project, will be working with our research team in developing a hypothesis for our conference. However, it is important to note that irrespective of the outcomes of our simulation, empowering the youth to take action is our main objective. If we manage to do this, we will succeed in achieving the primary goal that we have set for ourselves, i.e., that the youth is ready to play an active part in international negotiations and to shape its own future.


Through the active support of UNESCO, we have moved towards disseminating the idea globally, extending beyond Paris and France, and looking at other cities in the world. We are encouraging other cities to jump onto the bandwagon and to host their own Rio+20 simulation as we believe that our initiative is worth partaking in.


We have, so far, received an enthusiastic response from many youth organizations and universities worldwide, making us feel optimistic that the MyCity+20 movement will be a success. Currently, we have representatives in Asia (Colombo+20 and Mumbai+20), Europe (Rome+20 and Amsterdam+20) and Central America (MexicoCity+20), Africa (Kampala+20 and Kinshasa+20) who are willing to organize their own simulation of Rio+20. We at Paris+20 will provide interested cities with support; giving them ideas on how to start their own simulation; potential people to contact and overall complete flexibility in organizing their own event. Any interested cities are welcome to contact us at for further details.


The feeling that the time is ripe for the youth to take over the negotiations is being translated into action with this movement and we encourage everyone to participate in the process!


Read this article on the official UNCSD website.


Highlight: Paris+20 and an idea for a framework you can adopt


As you may already know, the idea of organising simulations of Rio+20 was born in Paris. At the moment, MyCity+20 is receiving many requests regarding how the simulation should or could look like. This post aims at sharing how Paris+20 is making the magic happen.


First of all, we are differentiating between the responsibility of the organisers and the secretariat and presidency. The organisers are creating a “big box”, which is a framework for the simulation, while the secretariat and presidency are creating a “medium box”, inside the big one, which is a framework for the negotiation.


The “big box” is about setting the date, the place, which delegation is represented, which twist you want to introduce compared to the real process, etc. The previous post, called “The framework of Rio+20 simulations” are about this big box.


The “medium box” is about setting negotiation rules, deciding how to facilitate the negotiations, etc. They are mostly the responsibility of the secretariat and presidency.


In the case of Paris+20, we are doing the following:


From the organisers point of view:
  • 1. Preparations. They consist of 3 phases:
    • 1a. Conferences, so the participants get a background knowledge on the issues at stake. In this phase and the following one they go from individuals to participants.
    • 1b. Delegation preps: participants are divided in teams, so they can prepare their positions, go deeper on some topics and decide their working methods.
    • 1c. Prep-coms: there will be intermediate (short) meetings so the delegations can start interacting with each other, establish alliances, etc.


  • 2. The simulation itself :

We, as organisers of Paris+20, provide food, a place for a three-day negotiation (including one night), and all the necessary material.


  • 3. Debriefing:

It will last one day and will happen at the UNESCO building, which is not the same place as the simulation itself. The point of the debriefing is to allow delegates to become individuals again, i.e. who are not role-playing any more. Psychological studies have shown that this is absolutely necessary in order to turn anything experienced during the game to a positive and enriching learning experience.


  • 4. Day of action:

We now address the daily life of our participants. What are the kind of projects, actions or careers they could pursue in order to “be the change they want to see in the world” ?


From the point of view of the delegates:

In parallel to the work of the organisers, and from phase 1.b to 2:


  • A zero draft (simplified) is published by the secretariat.
  • Delegations have time to amend the draft
  • The draft is modified, and thus becomes draft 1. It will be the basis for the negotiations in phase 1c and 2.


In parallel with this work on the draft, one has to decide the voting rules & procedures, the way the negotiations will be held, etc. It is the responsibility of the Secretariat and the Presidency, but any decision taken has to have a consensus among the voting delegations (and eventually be formally voted on). The Secretariat will transmit a document called “rules of procedure”, based on the Rio+20 rules of procedures, which can be found on the internet.


We are not yet sure how the negotiations will be held, but we forsee the following:

  • one opening session, very formal, to help people get into the roleplay, as well as voting the procedures (can NGOs/IMF attend any session? can they vote ?)
  • negotiation blocks: delegates are divided in discussion groups, where every country is represented. After each block of discussion, we will schedule buffer time, for each delegation to meet again, and for setting the agenda of the next block. Each decision will need a vote from the plenary to be finalised.
  • closing ceremony, for the final voting.


These explanations are based on the design of Paris+20 and are not at all a “must” for all the simulations of Rio+20!



Details of the initiative

My City+20

Joined documents