Youth and World Governance Youth and World Governance
Details of the Proposal

Background and context


“Yet I know that if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environmental answers, what a wonderful place this would be. In school you teach us not to fight with others, to work things out, to respect others, to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share, not be greedy. Then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do? You grownups say you love us, but I challenge you, please, to make your actions reflect your words.”


In 1992, at the very young age of 12, Severn Suzuki with the help of her friends raised money to participate at the Rio Earth Summit. It was at this summit she delivered an incredible (six minute) speech which not only received a standing ovation but also silenced the whole United Nations gathering. Later after ten years of her activism, in her interview with the Time Magazine she admits that although she has seen some improvement since 1992, there is nothing significant yet that has been accomplished. In fact, her confidence in the people in power was deeply shaken.


It should not come as a surprise to anyone that stories similar to that of Severn Suzuki are near almost true for many other young men and women across the globe. The youth who are genuinely concerned about some of the key challenges of this century are certainly disappointed with the present world governance. In the last three years, I have personally met, interacted, networked, and lobbied with many young leaders and activists across the globe under the banner of Indian Youth Climate Network, South Asian Youth Environment Network, Asian Youth Climate Network,, International Youth Advisory Board for UN-Habitat and others, fighting for one of the key challenges of the 21st century, i.e. global warming (without undermining there are several other key challenges that we face in this century and are presently working for as well). But still we are disappointed with most of the negotiations happening so far at the world governance level as there is no major headway.


Children and youth today are frustrated with the ‘people in power’ who are unable to come to a tangible consensus of capping our carbon emissions and implementing alternative solutions globally. UNFCCC’s Conference of Parties (CoP15) held in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009 was a total failure. Although there were some positive sings seen at COP16 meeting in Cancum, Mexico but it is not enough. We (the youth) demand that people in power to change their diplomacy attitude and ind appropriate way forward to post Kyoto Protocol and reach a common understanding of their local, national and planetary responsibilities. Rio+20, i.e. the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) will soon take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and we don’t want to be patronized by just listening to ‘Our Voice’. We demand Commitments and Action.


As children, we all grew up learning that ‘as you sow, so shall you reap’. Here is a most fantastic example of the direct result of the Industrial Revolution that has led us to this situation with our carbon emission level soaring high. The consequences of that period are evident now and are no surprise, that it is us, the young people and our children to come-the next generation, who will be deprived of clean air quality/environment, a basic human right. Shouldn’t we expect more from the previous generation and our present world governance system? It is a bitter truth; something that happens in one part of the planet has dire consequences on all parts of the planet, and it is not just humans that suffer but all beings. According to the IPCC, Bangladesh for example will be one of the poor countries that due to rise in sea-level temperatures, will go through an intense transition process of flooding, disastrous cyclones, destruction of agriculture capacity, and various other habitat related issues, which will displace not just humans but also other beings. To raise awareness of this grave issue, on 17th October 2009, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives held a cabinet meeting with his ministers decked in scuba gear under water and signed a document calling for global cuts in carbon emissions.


Several such countries which are economically disenfranchised and struggling to progress after their colonial regimes will face more problems, due to climate change, although these countries are not directly responsible for this situation. The climate crisis is not just catastrophic, but also exposes the glaring inequalities in the world. And the irony is that these nations have contributed least to greenhouse gas emissions and (as a consequence of climate change) but however it is these countries that will have to bear the brunt of climate change. Unsustainable growth and the relentless pursuit of progress by the present and previous generations has created this convergence of crisis – the crisis of climate change, the crisis of poverty and hunger and the crisis of species loss and resource consumption. Now if we look at the bigger picture, climate change is only one such example of the many challenges that we face today. But what about other challenges and issues such as poverty, illiteracy, overwhelming power of the multinationals over government (control influence on governance institutions), unequal distribution of financial resources (global financial inequity), the present economic crisis, nuclear weapons, war, terrorism, fundamentalism, racism, increasing population growth, HIV/AIDS and others?


Some of the UN and its agencies have astounding statistics and estimates:

  • 10 million children die every year due to lack of health care
  • More than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981 and as of 2007 there are 33 million living with HIV/AIDS
  • 884 million in the world do not have access to safe drinking water
  • 2.5 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation The United Nations Millennium Declaration set 2015 as the target year for achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is today less than six years away but the progress towards the goal is threatened due to the present (convergence of crises) economic crisis, climate change and other factors involving the member states. But, if we wait to evaluate until the date of the achievement of the MDGs, it might raise doubts about what we have achieved so far at the ground reality.


In the book, ‘The End of Poverty’, Jeffery Sachs predicts with his study and analysis, how the present generation can end poverty by 2025. But unfortunately, even he misses the emphasis on the role of young people who will have to play a major role in this effort and goal. We need to do something about these concerns and we need to do it now!


Youth today see themselves as the ‘Agents of Change’, and inspired by Gandhi’s word, “You must be the change you want to see in this world” they are taking action both locally and globally. This paper is an attempt to look at the youth perspective of world governance and their active role in the same.


Proposals and abstracts




  • 1. Youth and World Governance
    • Background and context
    • What is World Governance?
    • What do young people (really) need the world governance to be?
      • - Workable
      • - Organized
      • - Re-affirmative (of Rights and Responsibility)
      • - Local to Global, Legal to Legitimacy
      • - Democratic to Transforming (of our attitude and behaviour)
    • Who are Youth?
    • Why Youth?
      • - Increased level of awareness, participation, competence and leadership skills
      • - Education, Information and Communication Society
      • - Sustainability and Intergenerational Partnership
    • Role of Youth in World Governance
    • (a) Role of youth in United Nations and its subsidiary organizations
      • - Case Study 1: Youth Engaging Youth in Educational Opportunities
      • - Case Study 2: Incubating Women and Youth Resource Center in A Conflict Zone
    • (b) Role of youth in national government and multilateral institutions
    • (c) Role of youth in civil society movements
      • - Youth and Charter of Human Responsibilities (CHR)
      • - Youth-Led Development Programmes
      • - Global Citizenship
    • Conclusion and the Way Forward
  • 2. Youth and World Governance Perspective from different regions
    • i) Youth Governace Models in Canada
    • The Case of the United Nations Association in Canada
    • Dara Parker
    • ii) Youth and Governance – An Australian Perspective
    • Lucinda Hartley
    • iii) Youth and World Governance: A North American (USA) perspective
    • Ben Knight
    • iv) Youth and Governance: A Chinese perspective
    • Dunfei Chen
    • v) Youth and World Governance: A South American (Brazil) perspective
    • Safira De la Sala