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African Rio+20: A Paradigm Shift


If  there is ever an effective form of profound change, then it must be paradigm shift. This was the thrust of the just concluded African Rio+20 Summit, which commenced on 11th June 2012 and ended on 14th June 2012. Under the theme, Rauka! Act now for a Sustainable Future, the conference provided a unique platform for young leaders from eight  countries to meet and take stock of the current state of their countries’ development status and formulate a way forward, with regards to sustainable development.

For many years, the voice that has usually spoken on African issues has always been the victim’s voice, but not at the African Rio+20 Summit. The aura at the summit was that of a fresh start; a new way of looking at issues in the African context with a view of coming up with viable solutions instead of indulging in the blaming game, and renewed optimism by the young leaders in attendance. Various development stakeholders engaged with the young leaders, and they were truly awed by the change that had already been effected by these young pace setters. This was no ordinary talk shop; rather, it was a platform for charting the path to the future we want, and this journey has earnestly begun!

One of the petition T-shirts

Participants keenly following discussions

Panelists answering questions from participants

The main topics revolved around the role of youth in crafting a Green Economy through the creation of green jobs. It was not all about fancy words; rather, it was about practical solutions that the youth leaders had to undertake in order to achieve the envisaged objective. For example, Patricia from Uganda has a briquette-making business that turns waste into energy. Anna from Tanzania has come up with a novel way of purifying water for domestic use by using ash from Acacia branches – this method purifies the water by more than 90%. Kika from Uganda runs a waste-management and recycling enterprise in Kampala that employs 8 youth. David from Kenya has been successful in engaging government agencies such as the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Youth Affairs in bringing on board young people in policy formulation and implementation – during the summit, he got a guarantee from a senior Ministry of Environment official that from now henceforth, young people will have a seat on the table of policy formulation and implementation in all relevant aspects. This is just but a sample of the cadre of the youth leaders that participated in this summit.

The Rauka Campaign was held in partnership with Rio+YOU

Generic responses and statements were a no-no in this summit, as the participants explored challenges facing their societies and the appropriate responses in an empirical manner; this was aimed at coming up with appropriate solutions to pertinent challenges of sustainable development in an African context. And to boot this, each of the delegates made a personal pledge to effect PRACTICAL solutions in the immediate societies.

At the end of the summit, the young leaders came up with an opinion piece (policy statement) which outlines the position of young African leaders and all the stakeholders who were involved in this process (to be shared soon). In addition, Uganda and Tanzania Youth Climate Networks were formed so as to consolidate the voice and effectiveness of young people to effect change in their societies.

Please check out the blog for the African Rio+20 Summit for more information, pictures, and even participant profiles: http://climatecaravan.tumblr.com


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RAUKA! ACT NOW FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

RAUKA! ACT NOW FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

You most probably have heard all the bells and whistles about the Rauka campaign, but what is it all about anyway? Well, it is about many things, but the baseline of the entire project is about youth-led actvocacy (a cool new concept) towards sustainable development. It is a series of events aimed at raising awareness on these issues. The official description is as follows:

‘Rauka! Act now for a sustainable future’ is a campaign that brings together FBOs, CSOs and Youth Movements from all over East Africa and draws the support from global Climate Justice. Borrowing from the We Have Faith (www.wehavefaithactnow.org) campaign, this year’s youth campaign slogan is a very strong yet positive message about climate justice & the collected efforts we can make as youth to create the future we desperately need. It demands action, and gives options and solutions. The ‘Rauka’ campaign believes that the UN Earth Summit/Rio+20 can find a lasting and sustainable solution to protecting people and the planet from climate change and move us forward into the future we need.
The “Rauka” campaign 2012 – is follow up to the ‘We Have Faith’ campaign.

Rauka Week of Action (6th -13th June 2012)

To influence the UNCSD process, and to ensure that there is meaningful progress in the negotiations, the world’s leaders have to feel the pressure both from within their own countries and from abroad. To mobilize people to stand up for a carbon neutral future, they have to be informed both about the negotiations and what the stakes are.
The Pan African youth campaign for sustainable development, ‘Rauka’, will focus the energy of youth and mobilize around one week of momentum building towards the Africa Rio+20 summit. This week will have activities such as:
• In-country trainings in Tanzania, Rwanda, & Uganda (6th June – 8th June)
• Football matches, tree planting exercises (9th June)
• A peaceful walk in Nairobi Central Business District where the President & the Prime Minister will be given petitions collected from the five East African states. (11th June).
• Africa Rio+20 (12th & 13th June)

In order to find out what is happening in real-time, follow this conversation on Twitter (@rauka2012), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/RaukaActNowForASustainableFuture) and also check out our Rauka blog (http://climatecaravan.tumblr.com)


By Ken Liti

Nine Principles of a Green Economy

A green, fair and inclusive economy provides a better quality of life for all within the ecological limits of the planet:

1. The Sustainable Principle.  A green, fair and inclusive economy is a means to deliver sustainability

It is one of the vehicles to deliver sustainable development – not a replacement for it.It respects its dependency on a healthy environment and it strives to create wellbeing for all It addresses all three dimensions (environmental, social and economic) and develops policy mixes that integrate and seek the best results across all of them. 

2. The Justice Principle.  A green, fair and inclusive economy supports equity

It supports equity between and within countries and between  generations. It respects human rights and cultural diversity

It promotes gender equality and recognises knowledge, skills, experience and contribution of each individual

It respects indigenous peoples rights to lands, territories and resources

3. The Dignity Principle. A green, fair and inclusive economy creates genuine prosperity and wellbeing for all

It alleviates poverty

It delivers a high level of human development in all countries 

It provides food security and universal access to basic health, education, sanitation, water, energy and other essential services

It transforms traditional jobs by building capacity and skills, respects the rights of workers and actively develops new, decent green jobs and careers

It achieves a just transition.

It acknowledges the contribution of unpaid work

It promotes the self-empowerment and education of women

It support the right to development if delivered in a sustainable way

4. Healthy Planet Principle. A green, fair and inclusive economy restores lost biodiversity, invests in natural systems and rehabilitates those that are degraded

It recognizes its dependency on the productivity of ecosystems and biodiversity

It does not violate, disrupt, or overstep ecological boundaries and commits to co-operate within them, including reducing pollution, safeguarding ecosystems, biodiversity integrity, other natural resources including air, water, soil, and bio-geochemical cycles

It ensures that environmental integrity is maintained before allocating resources among competing uses

It ensures an efficient and wise use of natural resources, including water, natural gas, oil and mineral resources, without compromising future generations prospects 

It supports the respect of all forms of life

It applies the precautionary principle

It assesses of the potential impact of new technologies and innovations before they are released

It assesses the environmental impacts of economic policies and seeks to find the least disruptive, most positive  benefit for the environment and people

It promotes the restoration of balance between ecological and social relations

5. The Inclusion Principle.  A green, fair and inclusive economy is inclusive and participatory in decision-making

It is based on transparency, sound science and the visible engagement of all relevant stakeholders

It supports good governance at all levels from local to global

It empowers citizens and promotes full and effective voluntary participation at all levels

It respects cultural values, is tolerant to religious views and lifestyle choices, and sensitive to ethical considerations

It build societal awareness, developing education and skills\

It is transparent, inclusive and participatory, giving equal opportunities to, and advocating further for the rights of, young and old, women and men, poor and low skilled workers, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities and local communities

6. The Good Governance and Accountability Principle. A green, fair and inclusive economy is accountable

It provides a framework to structure markets and production in consultation with all stakeholders

It reports its sustainable progress on environmental, social and economic measures, in company, national and international accounts.

It achieves transparency

It promotes international cooperation and defines international liability

It promotes global policy coherence and fair international cooperation

It promotes common but differentiated responsibilities

It commits to international human rights standards and environmental agreements

7. The Resilience Principle.  A green, fair and inclusive economy contributes to economic, social and environmental resilience

It supports the development of social and environmental protection systems, and preparedness against and adaptation for climate extreme events and disasters

It creates a universal social protection floor.

It promotes a variety of green economy models relevant to different cultural, social and environmental contexts

It considers indigenous local knowledge and promotes the sharing of diverse knowledge systems

It builds on local skills and capacities and develops these further

It supports sustainable, diverse economies and local livelihoods

It promotes systems approaches, recognising the interdependence and integrated nature of these systems, underpinned by culture and ethical values

8. The Efficiency and Sufficiency Principle.  A green, fair and inclusive economy delivers sustainable consumption and production

It seeks to ensure prices reflect true costs incorporating social and environmental externalities

It implements the polluter pays principle 

It supports life-cycle management, and strives for zero emission, zero waste,  resource efficiency and optimal water use

It prioritises renewable energy and renewable resources 

It seeks absolute decoupling of production and consumption from negative social and environmental impact

It delivers sustainable lifestyles supporting a major cultural transformation

It promotes social, economic and environmental innovation 

It gives fair rights to access intellectual property within a global legal framework

9. The Generations Principle.  A green, fair and inclusive economy invests for the present and the future

It delivers inter-generational and intra-generational fairness

It promotes conservation of resources and the quality of life over the long term

It influences and regulates the finance sector so that it invests in the green, fair and inclusive economy  and achieves a stable global monetary system 

It prioritises long-term, scientifically-sound decision making above the short-term

It promotes equitable education at all levels and sustainability education for children

(Source: greeneconomycoalition.org)

Rio+20| Time to debunk the half truths

There is need to demystify the long held myth that associates trekking with poverty in the African context and the time is now. Over the years we have been made to believe that affluence is the ultimate measure of ones’ well being. Modesty is regarded as unfashionable.

Non- motorized transport (riding bicycles, walking, skating); a very common scenario in the developed countries especially Denmark, Canada, Netherlands, is not only pollution free but also contributes to ones’ wellness in terms of being fit since it is exercise in itself. Kenya’s case may be a bit different considering the state of our roads and the apparent unwillingness to invest in a reliable railway transport and the pot-holed road network with no lanes for cyclists. It doesn’t however imply that the inopportune trend can not be reversed.  The relevant authorities should be pushed into action. Non-motorized transport should be our focus in absence of an efficient low carbon transport.

Time has come to frown on materialism, the act of amassing what you don’t need as exemplified by former Philippines’ First Lady Imelda Marcos from our national psyche. At the back of our mind we need to know that we can live a modest and fulfilling life without necessarily accumulating wealth to obscene levels.  As the world leaders focus on Rio + 20 Summit on Sustainable Development, we should ask ourselves, as individuals, what role we would want to play to contribute towards a Green Economy (sustainable, low carbon); the very focus of the conference scheduled to take place in Brazil in June, 2012.

The Kenya’s Vision 2030 will remain just that, a vision, if deliberate steps are not taken to encourage green jobs (which has a potential to solve the unemployment conundrum through these sectors; energy, building, basic industry, transport, food and agriculture, forestry etc)

Let us popularize walking, cycling to and from work, when going to the shopping centre and generally, short distances. You will not only find it leisurely but also rewarding.

I got bus fare from town to my neighbourhood but I choose to walk, who will dare join me and demystify this fallacious mentality in the African context?

Brian Okoth

ianbrooks:

Diminutive Horrors by Adam Makarenko
We’re most afraid of things we cannot see, but what about the things that are just really tiny? Adam hand-crafts each piece down to the most intricate detail, before arranging them for their extreme close-ups. The result are fascinating glimpses into horrific scenes with no context but left to the machinations of your own mind to explain.

Artist: website (via: io9)
Zoom Info
ianbrooks:

Diminutive Horrors by Adam Makarenko
We’re most afraid of things we cannot see, but what about the things that are just really tiny? Adam hand-crafts each piece down to the most intricate detail, before arranging them for their extreme close-ups. The result are fascinating glimpses into horrific scenes with no context but left to the machinations of your own mind to explain.

Artist: website (via: io9)
Zoom Info
ianbrooks:

Diminutive Horrors by Adam Makarenko
We’re most afraid of things we cannot see, but what about the things that are just really tiny? Adam hand-crafts each piece down to the most intricate detail, before arranging them for their extreme close-ups. The result are fascinating glimpses into horrific scenes with no context but left to the machinations of your own mind to explain.

Artist: website (via: io9)
Zoom Info
ianbrooks:

Diminutive Horrors by Adam Makarenko
We’re most afraid of things we cannot see, but what about the things that are just really tiny? Adam hand-crafts each piece down to the most intricate detail, before arranging them for their extreme close-ups. The result are fascinating glimpses into horrific scenes with no context but left to the machinations of your own mind to explain.

Artist: website (via: io9)
Zoom Info
ianbrooks:

Diminutive Horrors by Adam Makarenko
We’re most afraid of things we cannot see, but what about the things that are just really tiny? Adam hand-crafts each piece down to the most intricate detail, before arranging them for their extreme close-ups. The result are fascinating glimpses into horrific scenes with no context but left to the machinations of your own mind to explain.

Artist: website (via: io9)
Zoom Info
ianbrooks:

Diminutive Horrors by Adam Makarenko
We’re most afraid of things we cannot see, but what about the things that are just really tiny? Adam hand-crafts each piece down to the most intricate detail, before arranging them for their extreme close-ups. The result are fascinating glimpses into horrific scenes with no context but left to the machinations of your own mind to explain.

Artist: website (via: io9)
Zoom Info

ianbrooks:

Diminutive Horrors by Adam Makarenko

We’re most afraid of things we cannot see, but what about the things that are just really tiny? Adam hand-crafts each piece down to the most intricate detail, before arranging them for their extreme close-ups. The result are fascinating glimpses into horrific scenes with no context but left to the machinations of your own mind to explain.

Artist: website (via: io9)

Exploring the Green Economy and Youth Nexus

So, the last couple of years have seen issues of climate change and environmental degradation take centre stage in the global arena. More important, the role of human beings in creating and even aggravating these challenges is more prominent that ever. In 1987, there was a commission formed called the Brundtland Commission which proposed the concept of Sustainable Development. In simple terms, sustainable development is development which uses resources in such a manner that they will still be available for use by future generations.

It is on this concept of sustainable development that the Green Economy model is hinged upon. Initiated by the United Nations Environment Programme, the definition of the Green Economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In short, the Green Economy will make certain that profit is not the only driving factor of businesses. Other factors such as ecological impacts of businesses will also be included. For example, timber merchandises will have to make sure that they replant trees which they cut down, and that chemical companies do not pollute their ecological systems.

In order to fully comprehend the Green Economy model, it is imperative that you understand the concept of sustainable development. The latter is hinged on three pillars of sustainability, namely: environmental sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability. Environmental sustainability deals with the concept of using natural resources in such a manner as to ensure their availability to future generations. Social sustainability deals with issues that affect society such as health, gender equality and peace. On the other hand, economic sustainability deals with corruption, fair trade and fair pay and debt, among other issues. Thus, a Green Economy encompasses all these aspects in order to ensure that development is all encompassing.

Currently, almost half of the global human population is under 25 years of age, and this is the impetus young people have taken in order to address issues affecting them. Youth activism has been fortified by the current information revolution that is transforming how people are interacting. With the availability of troves of information and social networking tools, young people have come to the realization that they have to take leadership in addressing these gigantic human development challenges, as they are the most vulnerable demographic cohort. New activism models such as Clicktivism have also come into play. Such divisions as North – South superiority assumptions which have prevailed for decades, if not for centuries, are being blurred by the pace at which the world is globalizing. Now, more than ever, young people from all over the world are coming together to address these human challenges as they have realized that they share common but differentiated challenges. A candid example of this form of collaboration is the current global campaign by young people to have their views heard at the forthcoming epic Earth Summit in June in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Through the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY), one of the nine constituent groups of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), young people have organized massive global mobilization and awareness campaigns towards the process; they have even provide policy input to the main summit. Such is the testament of how young people are addressing global challenges without having to blame or wait upon adults to do so.

However, it is important to note some distinctive facts, with special emphasis to the African continent. This is the continent with the biggest natural resource wealth, and about 70% of the population is under 30 years of age. But, there are many conflicts that dot the continent, and most of them are fuelled by the fight for natural resources such as minerals, oil and water; these wars are mainly fought by child soldiers. Also, climate change is ravaging the continent, as desertification is eating up arable land, water scarcity is on the rise; perpetual cycles of famine are now the norm, and there are never-ending conflicts such as the blood-diamond conflicts in West Africa and DR Congo.

This presents the ultimate opportunity for Africa to re-evaluate its development concepts and embrace the Green Economy in the appropriate context. It is important to note that the Green Economy is not cast in stone, contrary to what many critics usually point out. Rather, it is a template which each society can customize to meet their needs. Social sustainability will address the weak social systems that afflict African Societies; therefore, a social safety net will ensure that every member of a society enjoys the benefits of development. People will get access to health care; poverty will be reduced and even eradicated; peace will prevail as proper natural resource governance will be implemented; people will get equal opportunities irrespective of gender. Corruption will be effectively dealt with; crippling debts of poor countries will be written off and trade rules will be improved. Last but not least, people will benefit from the sustainable use of natural resources as everyone will have access to safe drinking water; sustainable agriculture will make sure that there is no more famine and future generations will be able to use natural resources in developing their societies.

The Green Economy model of sustainable development is already underway, thanks to the many business enterprises which are sustainable in nature. What is needed now is to mainstream this concept in order to improve our societies. The framework is there; the will and power of people and institutions need to be fortified, and we will have sustainable development, hence sustainable societies.

By Ken Liti

ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE FROM BOTTOM UP

The heated debate sufficed to warm the chilly morning; it was quite animated and thorough, and it all centered on the relevance of international conferences to the lives of people. As diverse as the opinions were, there was consensus on the fact that it is our role to implement the policies agreed upon at such conferences with regards to our target community’s context. This was the morning of April 22, 2012: Earth Day.

Members of Kenya Youth Climate Network (KYCN) and 
African Youth Initiative on Climate Change Kenya (AYICC-K) left together for Thogoto Center, on the outskirts of Nairobi, to spearhead Earth Day celebrations. The main event that marked this day was the Earth Race, a cycling event aimed at creating awareness on the need to conserve our environment and engaging the relevant authorities and local communities in environmental governance.

The event commenced with a tree planting session where all the participants in the event planted trees. This is a cliche act, but it is nonetheless one of the most important ones.

Later on, the Earth Race took place; it was very competitive and attracted many people. Different age cohorts were represented, and this was very important because youth-led activities and projects should not exclude people from any age bracket.

Finally, the RAUKA (swahili for ‘Awaken’) youth mobilization project for Rio+20 was launched.

Environmental governance from the bottom up approach is the most important means of engaging stakeholders in effective environmental conservation and sustainable development!

 

PS: Please get photos from the Earth Race Facebook page here:  

http://www.facebook.com/events/428056357220135/440275192664918/

By Ken Liti 

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