An international group of youth wants to see the Polar Regions included in the final agreement that will be negotiated at next month’s Rio+20 sustainable development conference in Brazil.
And they’re heading to Rio to try to make it happen.
The group of 14 young people, aged 17-24, from Canada, Norway and Hong Kong will be lobbying for sustainability in the Arctic and Antarctica in Brazil at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) from June 17-24.
Jenna Gall, a youth from Montmartre, Saskatchewan, currently living and working in Saskatoon is part of the first Students on Ice (SOI) Alumni Delegation, a new international youth-led initiative. Together at Rio+20, they will promote a global agreement that fairly and effectively addresses the sustainable development challenges of our time. Using their unique perspective, they will advocate for the long-term sustainability of the Polar Regions. SOI Delegates are united by the rare privilege of having studied and experienced first-hand these remote areas. Jenna experienced both the Arctic and Antarctica in 2009 on two different Students on Ice Expeditions.
Rio+20 will be the most significant meeting on sustainable development since the historic 1992 Earth Summit. At Rio+20, countries will finalize negotiations towards the institutional framework needed for sustainable development, discuss the creation of a green economy to eradicate poverty, and address emerging sustainable development challenges. The SOI Alumni Delegation is likely the only group that will focus on the Polar Regions at Rio+20.
“I am thrilled to be joining my peers from around the world to represent the youth voice at such a critical event,” says Gall. “From that first glimpse of Antarctica to the first time I saw a polar bear in the Arctic to my childhood spent in rural Saskatchewan helping on the farm, I have been dedicated to sustainable development around the globe. My passion for the poles is what has inspired me to take a leadership role in this delegation as I believe we can have a positive, meaningful impact at Rio+20 and get the Polar Regions on international policy agendas,” Gall adds.
Inspired by Students on Ice Expeditions, the delegation will host a side event on June 18th where they will present their recommendations and discuss with delegates the importance of the Polar Regions. The delegation is also supported by an international Home Team of 16 youth. In total, there are 30 passionate, talented youth involved who include students, professionals, Aboriginals, and people living in the Arctic regions. As part of their preparations, all delegates, including Jenna have been giving local public presentations on why the circumpolar regions should be part of the discussion in Rio.
“It is vital to include the voice of youth at such negotiations as it is our future that is being discussed around the table,” says Andrew Wong, Executive Director of the Students on Ice Alumni Delegation. “I am so excited to have Jenna on the team, as her passion and dedication will bring a sense of urgency to Rio+20 delegates to ensure a better future for all. I can’t wait to see the difference we will make together in Rio.”
Gall says, “Rio+20 is about taking action. Our delegation is focusing on the Polar Regions at Rio+20, but we should all do our part to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Let’s start now.”
To follow Jenna’s journey to Rio+20, visit www.soidelegation.com. Visit the SOI Alumni Delegation’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/soidelegation and follow their twitter @SOIDelegation for live updates throughout the conference.
Students on Ice Alumni Delegation (www.soidelegation.com) is an international, youth-led initiative inspired by Students on Ice Expeditions (www.studentsonice.com), Twitter: @SOIDelegation, Facebook: www.facebook.com/soidelegation
This article was contributed by APECS Member Jenna Gall, firstname.lastname@example.org