Neela’s report from Wednesday…
The United Nations in New York.
UK Youth Delegate at the Commission for Sustainable Development.
It’s 8 O’clock and I’m just back at the hotel cooking some dinner. MTV is on, but i haven’t yet seen any music for adverts so I’m a little confused. Tonight there isn’t any Youth Caucus work to do because we are awaiting the chair’s draft of the text. By 9am tomorrow morning there will be a draft document that will be a compromise about all the statements that goverments and civil society have made over the last few days. The days of talking about possible policies are over and we now enter into a phase of negotiation. Tomorrow everybody will be reading through the chair’s draft to see if their views are represented. If views and policies are not included then it is time to lobby governments and make them bring the issue up in negotiation. For example, if there is no mention of the importance of peer to peer education in the effort to educate about sanitation then the Youth Caucus will be lobbying different governments, asking them the push for it’s inclusion.
This whole process is going to be fastinating to be a part of. The Youth Caucus are meeting at 9 to start working through the text and working out how we feel about it. The text will all be writen in offical language, and we will help each other understand exactly what it all means. This is why it is so important to have lots of youth in the Youth Caucus because everyone has different skills and can help in different ways.
This is something that i have been thinking about a lot in the last few days: the representation within the youth caucus. Very few governements actually have a position for a youth delegate on their delegation, and these are mostly from developed countries. Germany and the Netherlands are particually progressive and have two youth delegates. The US doesn’t have one but lots of young people from the States still join the Youth Caucus by representing different youth groups. It is particually easy (and cheaper) for US youth to get involved. This means that the Youth Caucus mainly has input from developed countries in the northern hemisphere. It is therefore understandable that our knowledge about how youth around the world feel about issues like water, sanitation and settlements is limited. I am sure that the Youth Cuacus would be greatly benifit if there were young people from developed and undeveloped countries. One idea has been to ask governement who already have youth delegates to pay for a youth delegate from another country. This is something i will be asking the UK government about tomorrow if i get time. Although, they don’t even pay for me to attend: this is up to my youth group to organise. If the UK government won’t consider this option, then i will ask them to remind all other countries that various resolutions have been passed stating the importance of Youth Representation in the UN.
I was meant to have a brief meeting with one of the UK team today, but it didn’t materialise. So instead I found a computer and wrote up some points and questions that i would like to know about. Because i am the first ever Youth Delegate that the UK has allowed to attend this event, i want to make sure that i know WHY I am here, in their eyes, and what i can do to make sure the role exists for other young people. Some of the questions i wrote about were:
1) What role does the UK see it’s Youth delegate playing at CSD13 (commission for sustainable development) and beyond?
2) How can a mentoring system be set up to support the other young people who will be youth delegates.
3) Can the UK put pressure on other governements to bring a youth delegate, and support them in doing so where possible?
I also made it clear that it would be a great shame if the role of ‘youth delegate’ became merely tokenistic. Hopefully they will realise that this is not why i came to New York! Despite this missed meeting, i spoke to some of the other UK delegates and am beginning to feel a little more comfortable talking to them about my feelings. It is easy to feel like you are the only person who doesn’t always understand what is going on: but for many adults this is their first UN experience as well. Then it was lunch time, and i got a little lost. I turned a corner from the escalators and there were people lining the walls of the corridor. I asked why everyone was waiting, and someone pointed at Bill Clinton strolling towards us with his entourage. For me it was like seeing something out of madame tusaudes come alive: those wax models are very accurate. And then he turned a corner and he was gone. Lunch time! I find out the Britney Spears is pregnant.
The afternoon sessions were all about the issues that link water, sanitation and settlements together. For example: the effects of warfare on young people around the world. The use of radioactive weapons can damages water resources for generations to come, destabilise ecological and social systems. Human settelments are also greatly effected by this footprint of warfare. These are the kinds of issue that the Youth Cuacus will hope to find mentioned in the chair’s text tomorrow. We made an intervention about the interlinking issues that we think are most important, and hopefully the chair will have taken note of them. I then went to a meeting run by the UN Youth Unit (email@example.com). They support governments in getting youth involvement. Just for the record: the UK is planning on taking three youth delegates to the General Assembly conference in October. So if you are interested, then check out the website: http://www.unysa-uk.org
Paris and Nicole Hilton are currently on TV using baby orangutangs to advertise Burger King. Apparently it’s becasue they are an endangered species (the oranutangs not the Hiltons, sadly), and they want to promote the cause. Nice to know that youth around the world are doing their bit! Watching their lifestyle of luxury and playgrounds is slightly sickening when you have just spent the whole day wondering why millions of kids still don’t have access to clean water. I wish it were greed that was endangered.
I hope that these messages are useful. If there is anything in particular you want to know or ask you can email me or post a reply, depending where you are accessing it from. There is always so much to write about that i am willing to focus on the things that you are finding most interesting.
till tomorrow, neela