Home > Blogg > Youth forum Rio+20 in Vienna (part I)


From June 20th to 22nd, the UNCSD-Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is coming up. This United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development is the follow-up event to the “Earth Summit” that took place in Rio twenty years ago (-> Rio+20 as short term for the conference in 2012). Back in 1992, it was recognized that sustainable development can’t be reached by governments alone. It takes active participation of so called “main groups”, one of them being children and youth.

The Austrian Jugend-Umwelt-Plattform JUMP (Youth-Environment-Platform) therefore organizes the Youth forum Rio+20, an event that brings active Austrian Youth together before and after the conference. In addition, a youth declaration was written, that will be presented in Rio by two randomly chosen participants.

The first meeting was held in Vienna from 27th to 30th April. Mario and I were two of the approximately 50 young people from all over the country who attended. During the four days, we had several activities to get to know each other and learn about the conference and the topics that will be discussed there.
The main parts were the four workshops on Sunday. The topics were “Biodiversity: the magic of our planet!”, “Green Economy – better live sustainable!”, Vision “sustainable mobility and traffic” and “Think global, act local – Local Agenda 21”. Before we got started, two of every group volunteered to keep record over the workshop and eventually represent the rest of their group when writing the declaration. In addition, they would present the workshop to the others on Monday. Mario, who chose the mobility workshop and me (Local Agenda 21) both volunteered for that.


In my workshop, a guy from the association Local Agenda 21 in Vienna (http://la21wien.at) told us about the work he was doing with communities to empower them to act sustainable. Regrettably, only six of 23 districts in Vienna are taking this chance. We brainstormed about what we could think of, that would fit into the concept, learned about participation and sustainable development and told each other about the projects we had been part of so far.
After lunch, we did another brainstorming about projects we thought that should be brought forward or started. Next, we worked out three concrete ideas in small groups. The projects were a competition between communities to boost carpooling, more education on recycling in schools and moss-planting on walls in cities (moss can reduce fine dust up to 75%!). Finally, we thought about what our part of the declaration would be.

At 7.30pm, we started writing the declaration. Eight youngsters and the JUMP team worked on the texts of the four workshops. When we collected all the parts, we noticed that they didn’t fit together at all: every team had used another writing style. So we had to change everything again. Then we printed the document and discussed every single word (!) in the whole group. You won’t believe that small changes can cause big differences in the meaning. Somewhat after midnight, we ordered pizza which was really necessary to keep the spirits up. We kept working and discussing and laughing and finally finished at 3.30am. That makes eight hours of work! We only fell into our beds as soon as we were back at the Youth Hostel, just to get up again at 7.30…

On Monday we presented our workshops and the declaration to the rest of the forum-participants, voted that we were alright with it to be taken to Rio and got some information about the upcoming event in July.
Then the drawing of the two representatives for Rio; everyone was quite nervous because this was an awesome chance to travel to Brazil for free, attend the conference and side events and all of that as part of the official Austrian delegation! Unfortunately, neither Mario nor I drew the right sheet of paper. And the two lucky ones who did couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day. 🙂

The last activity was a photo-shoot in a park and some filming for a short film about the forum that should be out soon. Driving back home we had learned a lot, got to know many new people and even had a new project partner to work with (a guy from the WWF; more about that when it’s fixed). We are looking forward to the follow-up event in July when we will overwork the declaration and then present it to our environment minister Nici Berlakovich.

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