sustainable development Archive

CSD13 Update from Neela

April 13th, 2005

I’ll post more later, but here’s Neela’s update from Tuesday.

Day Two.
The United Nations in New York.
UK Youth Delegate at the Commission for Sustainable Development.

This morning i entered the UN building at 8.30am. There is a cafe downstairs called Cafe Vienna, and it is where a lot of informal meetings take place. This morning was an NGO (non-governmental organisations) meeting. All the UK NGOs meet every morning to talk about their aims for the day, they co-ordinate with each other about who will attend each meeting. There are so many different events happening everyday that it is impossible to attend them all. The Youth Caucus do the same thing: we split up and attend differnt meetings, and then have feedback sessions when we all come together. This means that every meeting has a youth presence, and the chance for ‘youth’ to speak on important issues. It was agreed yesterday that I would attend the interactive discussions on WATER. Becasue i am an official government delegate I cannot speak on behalf of the Youth Caucus unless the head of my delegation agrees to the points that the Youth Caucus are making. So, today i just sat and listened. ‘Youth and Children’ are one of 9 major groups who have the chance to speak in the UN, so they have a ‘flag’ like all the countries, that they can raise when they want to make a point. In this morning meeting, ‘Youth and Children’ were recognised by the chair to speak and had 2 minutes to make their key points on water. A youth delegate from the US youth group SustainUS spoke very clearly, and also mananged to mention the fact that more youth delegates should be present on government delegations. The US do not have an official youth delegate, and this is the first year that the UK has had one. Tomorrow I have a meeting with someone from the UK government delegation to find out exactly what my role should be. I would also like to find out how i can support other young people who might like to do the job in the future: it would be nice to set up some sort of mentorring system. I know that i would have appreciated the advice of a youth person who has done this before! It can be quite daunting. Luckily, the ‘Youth Caucus’ meets everyday, bringing together other youth from different countries. For most youth delegates there is also a language barrier to cross, as most smaller meetings are conducted in English. I have alot of respect for those young people who are not only learning about the United Nations for the first time, but are also combatting a language barrier. I wish I had continued languages at school.

At lunch i had a quick meeting with a memeber of the UK delegation to ask about the UK’s position on ‘water as a human right’. I had been asked to find this information out by the ‘Youth Caucus’ who are all supportive of this idea. At the moment, there is no clear legal document that states water as a human right. However, it is included in many other human right documents, like the UN Convention on the rights of the child. We had this meeting in the Vienna Cafe which was by this time full of cigarrette smoke. This is an interesting issue! Although there are ‘No Smoking’ signs all around the cafe most delegates and diplomats ignore them, because officially the UN building is on ‘international land’ and therefore US laws apparently don’t apply! I’ll have to check this out. The UN definitly have their own police force though. No NYPD here.

Durring the whole commission there are many side events. These are really good opportunities for me to learn some stuff about specific issues. UNICEF (United Nations International Childrens Emergency Fund) had organised a set of speakers on water, sanitation and hygiene education for schools. Particular attention was paid to the fact that around the world girls miss alot of school classes becasue the sanitation doesn’t cater for their needs. If a girl misses a few days of school every month then this adds up. Children may also spend alot of time collecting water when they could be in school.

I had a quick look in on the afternoon meeting on SETTLEMENTS and congratualted a Youth Caucus member from Ghana on a really good speach. All the speaches are roughly scripted beforhand, often late into the night, but presentation is still really important. He spoke alot about the need to provide young people living in poor areas with good employment opportunities. Micro-credits are one way of letting young people have access to small loans to kickstart their careers.

We had a Youth Caucus meeting to feedback on the day, and then began scripting our points for tomorrow. My role in this is slightly limited, because I am here to speak on behalf of the UK. But it is important for me to listen because i can then feedback the youth points of view to the government. This is what i will be aiming to do at 7.30 tomorrow morning. Tomorrow i will attend my first early morning delegation meeting! So, forgive me for going to sleep now (it’s only 10pm) but it’s been a long day, and the alarm is set for 6am!

News from New York

April 12th, 2005

I was going to title this “Yorks from New New”, but Neela says it’s not funny.

OK, so it’s late, we’re tired, the first day was long, but we’re determined to make the most of the next two weeks, and more importantly, do a really good job of involving people back in the UK and keeping you all informed about what’s going on.

CSD 13 is the third yearly meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development since the World Summit in Johannesburg. At CSD 11, the governments decided to focus on a few themes relevant to sustainable development in cycles, each ‘thematic cycle’ lasting two year. CSD 12 last year was the ‘review year’ for Water, Sanitation and Human Settlements – so no new decisions were made by governments. The idea with that was that by having a two-year cycle, the first year could be spent really figuring out what needs to be done, in a more relaxed atmosphere, without the pressure of the formal international negotiations going on.

This year is the ‘policy year’ so it’s all about negotiations. But there’s something else special about this year, and that’s Neela. Of course everyone’s special, but Neela has a red badge. Naaa naaa na naaa naaa. OK, so I should probably explain that. The UN ID passes are colour-coded, and red is for governments. This is the first year EVER that the UK government has let a youth representative join their official delegation to CSD. It’s something that we’ve been pushing ever since Johannesburg, and it’s definitely a step forward for youth participation in the UK.

There’s a bit of a drawback, which is that Neela can’t run around contradicting the UK government positions on things – that’s a compromise we make in getting youth reps on official delegations. Don’t worry though, there are still lots of other people here who can say whatever they like about the government’s policies as publicly as they like. And I’m sure we will.

Today we had opening statements by governments, a couple of meetings with other youth representatives (some official government youth delegates, as well as other brown-badge folk like me) as well as getting settled and orientated. Here’s Neela with a report on the day’s activities…

Today was a chance for me to get to grips with the procedure and meet some of the other youth delegates. I attended the chair’s opening remarks in the main plenary, which was an incredible sight, and then i headed off to the youth caucus. Here we introduced ourselves to each other and divided up groups to focus on different issues. I chose to focus on water, as this is the subject that i have done the most reading on. So i had a chat with the other youth members working on water, and we attended the water caucus meeting, that was a collection of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations). Because I am a government delegate I can only speak the UK official line. So the youth caucus view on the issue of water might be different to the UK view. So, we drew up a few points that the youth caucus would like to see included in final documents. I can now discuss these views with the government delegates. There will be particularly interesting debates on whether water should be a human right: this is something that the youth caucus feels quite strongly about. Tomorrow we will also work on the youth caucus views on interlinking issues: this basically means how we can link policies in water, sanitation and settlements together. For example: good sexual health education is a health and sanitation issue, but it is also important in areas of huge population growth, like slums. Empowering young people with family planning choices, for example, will have effects on more than one issue. But of course this is not just an issue for slums, giving young people the tools to determine their own futures is empowering, worldwide.

Anyway, it is getting late, and i have a meeting at 8.30am. This is so that the NGO groups can co-ordinate their aims for the day. I hope that this has been interesting. It is all as new to me as it is to you. So, please feel to mail in any questions and I, or Matthew, will try our best to answer them.


Matthew –

Neela –

Oh, and there’s wireless internet in the UN building now, so we’ll be online quite a bit. If you see us online, we’ll be happy to chat…

aol: mfc246
yahoo: matthewfcarroll
icq: 24869696

…I’ll try to remember to sign in!

I’m not sure if Julie will have time to post updates to the website, since she’s so busy with Global Village stuff at the moment, but all our updates will be available on Matthew’s own site at:

Blue (sleepy) skies
Matthew & Neela

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