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It has already been three months since SustainUS arrived in Rio de Janeiro to participate in the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), and we’re still learning from the experiences we had there. We came to the conference with high hopes for the negotiations. The outcome of the conference didn't fulfill all our desires and work still needs to be done by governments and their representatives before the policies address all the global challenges covered at the conference.
At the conference, we were able to sit in on negotiations that covered the range of issues that combine to form sustainable development, we met with the lead negotiators of the United States and many other countries, we spoke at events that occurred alongside the negotiations, and we worked with young people from around the world to advocate for a strong outcome. Rio+20 wasn't an end to the international dialogue on sustainable development and we will make every effort to be present for all the further discussions of the topics. Although there is still a long way to go to resolve the issues covered at Rio+20, there is one thing that is certain: we emerged from the conference energized by the enthusiasm of the young people and other activists who traveled to Brazil from all over the world.
As members of SustainUS, we are passionate about issues that range from climate change to reproductive rights, and from alternative economic systems to water rights. Meeting other young people and activists and discussing how we could work together to better the world reminded us of our power as a group. We will continue to maintain and develop the partnerships we built in Rio, partnerships we would not have made without traveling there. We are incredibly grateful to our donors for helping us travel to Rio+20 to participate in global politics and for all the new relationships we formed there that will last much longer than the three weeks we spent in Brazil.
This week, SustainUS is preparing to head to Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). At the conference, we will be working tirelessly. But we’ve been working hard just to prepare for the conference. In the months since our project went online at Global Giving, we have participated in three intersessional meetings at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City to discuss the negotiating text of Rio+20, had meetings with groups like the US State Department and the UN Population Fund, published blog articles, policy briefs and text suggestions, tweeted tirelessly and finalized our plan of action for Rio de Janeiro. Now, it’s finally time for us to go to Rio. During the first week, our members will attend the Youth Blast, an meeting that will bring together youth from all over the world for discussion and education about sustainable development. SustainUS members will be running at least three events during the three day meeting to teach the world about their passion for sustainability. During the official negotiations, SustainUS will also host a side event that is open to all delegates that will discuss the need for youth action on sustainable development to continue after Rio+20.We will continue our policy work in Rio by sitting in on negotiations and by tweeting, blogging and issuing press releases on the state of the negotiations. We will participate in actions to encourage our governments to “do better” on issues we feel strongly about, like scaling back fossil fuel subsidies and increasing the funding for renewable energy. We will strive to make sure as many people in the US are aware of what their government and the United Nations as a whole is doing in Rio de Janeiro, and to make the voice of US youth, and all youth worldwide, heard as loudly as possible in the negotiations.
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