Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Power to the People

Last night was the first big protest on-site: the proposal for an "Ombudsperson for Future Generations", a primary focus of the Youth Major Group, was removed from the text of the outcome document. This is a position that the governments of Hungary, New Zealand and Israel already have on a national level. According to the Youth Major Group:

  1. 1.     Appointing an Ombudsperson of Future Generations brings the SD agenda straight to the heart of governments and policy-making and intra-governmental expertise. He or she engages directly in the policy-making process and assesses the long-term effects of policies from an integrated perspective (example: Commissioner for Future Generations in Israel)
  2. 2.     Only an independent body without the requirement to be re-elected by current voters can fully focus on the long-term analysis and represent it without any hesitation. Working as a mediator between government departments and stakeholders, he or she also improves knowledge and expertise in integrated policy-making (example: PCE in New Zealand)
  3. 3.     With the mandate to veto policies ignoring agreed sustainable development goals and to bring them to Court in case of non-dispersal of the perceived violations, the shadow of power has proven to provide the long-loud-legal signals that even business calls for (example: Ombudsman for Future Generations in Hungary).
  4. 4.     With the mandate to be responsive to citizens and engaging with their empirical observations, Ombudspersons increase trust in policy implementation and government accountability. In addition, new trends in the population and civil society solutions are easily transmitted to the core of policy-making.

The proposal had been in the text since January and had significant backing. At this stage in the negotiations the host country starts to play a huge role, and the appointed Co-Chairs of the conference are replaced by Brazilian government officials. They now facilitate all negotiations and are responsible for redrafting all text, taking the edits of delegates into account. 

In response to this deletion in the most recent redrafted text, the Youth registered a protest right outside of the negotiation room, (pretty neat that you can register a protest,) and stood in a line with duct tape over their mouths, staring silently at the delegates as they walked by. One participant had a sign reading 'Please, don't take away our voice'. One participant looked as youth as 6. It was powerful, and extremely uncomfortable:

Here's an explanation from Aashish, a member of the youth delegation, who took a quick break from the duct-tape statement:

This morning, the Women's Major Group expressed it's shock that language on sexual and reproductive health as an essential element of sustainable development had been eliminated

The protest included the chants "women's rights, not corporate rights" and "our bodies aren't up for trade". Thanks for this great footage, Yiting!

1 comment:

  1. This is incredible. It is exactly why Rio+20 is not at all a failure, but a guaranteed success already, the time when people of the world made it clear that governments can not screw around with the survival of humanity and life on earth. Now the key is to turn can not (don;t have the right to) into can not--we will not let you, by any means necessary.