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Youth Participation in the EC Conference in India

The Earth Charter +10 Conference “Ethical Framework for a Sustainable World” was held at the Centre for Environment Education (CEE) campus in partnership with the Earth Charter International (ECI) and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India, in Ahmedabad from 1st to 3rd November, 2010. The Conference was held to commemorate 10 years of the Earth Charter (EC).

The Conference brought together over 600 participants, including about 300 participants from all over the world.

Youth at the Conference
A major focus of this conference was engaging youth, enabling them to share their experiences in applying the EC principles in their work. The South Asia Youth Environment Network (SAYEN) played an important role in bringing together the youth from various regions to participate and bring in their perspectives to the overall conference and the various workshops. This was possible through support from the UNEP ROAP Asia Pacific office.

Based on the learnings from the youth participation at the previous international conferences including the Fourth International Conference on Environment Education (ICEE), it had been decided that there would not be a separate workshop for youth. The SAYEN youth representatives would be a part of each of the 10 thematic workshops being organized for the conference and contribute to the proceedings.



Representation

82 youth represented SAYEN at the conference including students and young development professionals from different backgrounds such as law, commerce, media, environmental planning and technology, biodiversity, climate change studies, human resource management, peace studies, academic research, information technology, arts, science etc.

Five students from the Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication, Pune, Mr. Sriekit Tadepalli, Ms. Sangeetha Rane, Ms. Nimisha Misra, Ms. Shraddha Ganwani and Mr. Shekhar Kanagali interned with CEE during the Conference. They came from varied disciplines such as event management, journalism and mass communication, and New Media and ICT. They were placed with the Conference Secretariat to work on the Conference website and virtual conference, the Conference Daily Report, the planning of the plenaries and working with the Youth team to gather support for youth participation at the conference.

Pre-Conference Youth Workshop
A pre-conference workshop was organized by the SAYEN Secretariat on 31st October at CEE towards strategizing the youth participation at the conference. This was attended by all the participants.

As part of the workshop, all the participants were introduced to SAYEN, informed about the various activities of the network and the different activities that they could undertake as SAYEN associates in their own region.

The workshop gave an understanding to the youth participants about the conference, the role of youth at the conference, the detailed information about workshops, plenaries and other components of the conference.

Participants also prepared for the thematic workshops of the upcoming days. Based on their interests the youth representatives chose the workshop that they wanted to be a part of. This was followed by the working group session where all the youth participants discussed their reflections on the Earth Charter principles and their expectations from the 10 workshops. This session saw an energetic debate on various issues such as access to versus the potential of ICTs, the need for consultative policy decision making and issues relating to understanding religion and spirituality and the idea of oneness.

Together, the youth decided that they would participate actively in the conference as –
• Workshop Rapporteurs
• Plenary speakers
• Facilitators, and
• Volunteers

SOME EXAMPLES OF HOW THE YOUTH PARTICIPATED IN THE CONFERENCE

Setting Up the Youth Corner
The youth decided to set up the ‘Youth Corner’ outside the CEE Auditorium. The theme was “Sustainable Lifestyles and Consumption”. Posters, Collages, Exhibit material and information on the related issues were displayed for the visitors.

The Youth Corner saw a good reaction from participants of all age groups who came forward to read and understand what the youth want, and also leave behind their encouraging messages. The youth got all the visitors to the Corner to put their thumbprint on a canvas that had a dying tree as a symbol of the present state of the environment, painted on it.

Networking
All the youth participants at the conference made full use of the social networking sites to voice their opinions about the conference and share the proceedings with their counterparts all over the world. They were engaged in discussions and deliberations on

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • blogs and websites of the conference

They were involved in giving out live feeds on the proceedings of each of the workshops and the plenary sessions.

Representation at Plenary
Mr. Hemant Sahal represented the youth at Plenary on “Education for Sustainable Development”. He talked about values and principles being communicated through education, saying “It is not difficult to do the right thing, but to understand what is right”.

Virtual Conference
The eagerness and enthusiasm of the young participants reflected at the Virtual Conference that took place on the second day. This was organized by Heart in Action Enterprises and the Earth Charter International secretariat. During this conference, the youth interacted with the youth associated with EC across the world, alumni volunteers and administrators of the Earth Charter Global Learning Opportunity (e-glo), and other EC members from different corners of the world.

Youth Blog
The youth had initiated a blog titled – Youth @ Conference to discuss their strategy before the conference, share their learnings and experiences from the thematic workshops during the conference and carry the discussions forward after the conference.

Participation at Workshops
The youth representatives attended thematic workshops as planned and
shared their learnings with each other
at the end of the day.

See the whole report here.

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