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June 2012: World Youth Congress essay

© UNICEF Zambia/2012/Mutale
Ambassador Tambudzai with Erasmus Mweene another Zambian participant in Rio

Rio+20 – A Zambian youth helps shape World Youth Congress

By Tambudzai Mutale

Just recently I was among 350 active, energetic youths from 110 countries around the world who gathered in Rio de Janeiro at the World Youth Congress from 4th to 13th June 2012. I had the distinct honour of being Zambia’s lone representative. This year’s World Youth Congress was the sixth in the series of international youth gatherings where young people seek to explore the most effective role that youth can play in sustainable development.

We produced a 20-point youth solution document. This will to be presented to the Government delegations as they arrive for the UN Rio+20 conference summit- and which can be taken home and implemented in our communities. His Excellency President Michael Sata’s delegation has received the points, I am sure. The solutions include:

Education: The science behind sustainable thinking and practices must be seeded in young people’s minds throughout their entire education.

Behavior change/culture shift:  Society must transition to a culture of conscious consumption, sustainable lifestyles and social and environmental responsibility. Youth must see it as their duty to lead the rest of society towards sustainable lifestyles attitudes.

Youth entrepreneurship:  Youth must be educated to become risk-taking sustainable entrepreneurs from primary schools to universities. They must then be provided with favorable conditions such as:
  • Access to non-collateralized loans for youth-led business start-ups;
  • Reduced administration hassle for registering businesses;
  • Tax breaks for youth-led sustainable business start-ups.

Sustainable economy: Youth must be at the forefront of the shift to molding economies that promote happiness, health, peace and sustainable lifestyles.

Energy efficiency: Governments must impose energy efficiency taxes on inefficient companies, and use the revenue to support programmes that fund the transition towards sustainability.

Waste management:  Companies must introduce life-cycle thinking into their product development and production practices.

Water: All practices existing technologies must be employed to collect treat and distribute safe potable water for all in a sustainable way.

Climate change:  The importance and urgency of reducing emissions requires all Governments, companies and individuals to move rapidly to zero carbon behaviors.

Health: Governments must prioritize universal access to health care including properly researched and regulated traditional medicine.

Agriculture: Governments must craft programmes to educate communities and families on sustainable agriculture technologies to improve food production and distribution.

© UNICEF Zambia/2012/Mutale
Ambassador Tambudzai participating in a community clean-up in Rio

Food security: Youth and families must be encouraged to grow their own food both to feed themselves and educate themselves about food production.

Gender Rights: Men and women must be treated equally in society. Children and young people must be taught to promote and reinforce a society free of gender discrimination.

Youth Representation: Youth must be represented at every level of Government. Government must also enable youth to elect ombudspersons for future generations in national and international legislatures

Human Rights:  Youth must establish global forums to promote and discuss equality based on the UN Declaration on Human Rights. New rights are necessary, including:

  • The right to sufficient clean water;
  • The right to breath clean air;
  • The right to protection from violence and abuse;
  • The right to sustainable development.

These new rights must lead to a critical judgments and comprehension of world matters including an understanding of sustainability and a rapid transition to sustainable life styles.  These solutions are offered as a platform to which young people, especially us as Zambian youth, can add their own action points and transition of our own personal lives. Now 20 years later after the first UN earth summit in Rio drew the world’s attention to the fact that human life was in danger of destroying the environment on which we all depend for life, the need for action is far greater. As the Zambian Government represents us at Rip+20 it is important for them to note that this is a time of crisis and we need leaders who are knowledgeable enough of the perils we face, courageous enough to make decisions and creative enough to come up with innovative solutions.

Now is the time to draw up a master plan for sustainable growth and world development based on global allocations of all resources and a new global economic system. The spirit of our planet is stirring! The consciousness of Goddess Earth is now rising against all odds, in spite of millennia of suppression, repression and oppression inflicted on her by a hubristic and misguided humanity. The earth is a living entity, a biological organism with psychic and spiritual dimensions.  The time for statements, petitions and lobbying is over. Now is the time for solutions, justice and human rights to build the future we want.


Mutale is a UNICEF Zambia Climate Ambassador and a recent graduate of St. John’s Secondary School in Mongu.



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