Baria Daye (Director, AFJ): My experience at Rio+20
07 July 2012
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Converging 50,000 delegates from 192 nations, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20 took place from June 20-22nd. The participation in “Rio+20” at such a large-scale conference was a landmark event representing the enthusiasm, diversity, inclusiveness and passion of the stakeholders involved.

However, the conference filled with these positive vibes where participants live up to high expectations is yet to lead to tangible, actionable outcomes. Facing up to the challenges of putting agenda and action plans into practice, the global civil society carefully followed the negotiation processes of the leaders of the world and advocated for the desired change: “The Future We Want.” It gave me great hope to see young voices heard, the people of the world concerned and impatient for such a desired change and future, the global community taking active measures towards a better world rather than passive unresponsive approaches, and the private sector bridging with the global society in a more collaborative way.

Most notable was the unique Yasuni-ITT initiative led by Dr. Ivonne Baki from the Government of Ecuador which chose to forego oil extraction from the Yasuni rainforest in an attempt to preserve the biodiversity and ecosystem of that rich area, home to considerable diversity within species and ecological complexes of which they are part. Led by a growing developing country which puts values at the heart of its actions, the Yasuni initiative is a gift for mankind that Ecuador generously offers. The international community is encouraged to support this initiative and invest in it, in such rare outstanding endeavors where a long-term and human-centered vision triumphs over a short-term and narrow-minded view concerned only with lucrative options. It is also worth mentioning that Ecuador legally recognizes “the right to nature,” presenting an exemplary model for other nations to follow.

Having also visited the Athlete Park where different countries were exhibiting, I passed by the Japanese Pavilion which housed innovative organizations such as Fujitsu; Toshiba; IHI Corporation; Mitsubishi; the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI); among others. The pavilion demonstrated the unique technologies, perspectives, and relationships and respect for others that the Japanese value and bring to the world.

It was truly an inspiring journey during which I have met people from many countries who reinforce the beliefs that:

-We are one.
-Earth is our common global village.
-Our similarities far outweigh our differences.
-Our shared values, planet, resources, and future must constructively bring us all together.
- We are individually responsible for shaping the world!

The key participation of indigenous people made me truly appreciate the beautiful diverse texture of the rich composition in this world.

Finally, the trip would not have been complete without visiting the most breathtaking sights in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro and its world-famous monument on the top of the Corcovado Mountain recently named one of the new 7 wonders of the world!

I am grateful to Akira Foundation and the World Economic Forum Global Shapers who encouraged me to pursue this opportunity and contribute to the youth participation at Rio+20.