RIO DE JANEIRO--As diplomats from more than 190 countries were gathering for a key U.N. development conference here, private citizens groups and indigenous people were making sure their voices won't be drowned out.
The three-day United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20, or Earth Summit 2012), starting from June 20, is expected to map out a path for the global economy, society and environment for the next 10 years.
One of the key issues a group of people aged 30 or younger is pushing for is the creation of a U.N. High Commissioner for Future Generations.
“People should have a long-term perspective by overcoming the temptation to achieve growth in the near future with development projects,” said Hiroki Fukushima, director-general of the Japan Youth Ecology League.
The group is calling for the establishment of a U.N. office to study how development projects will affect children who have yet to be born.
But the call was struck from the draft outcome document the Brazilian government presented on June 16, which will be considered by delegates to Rio+20.
Leaders of less industrialized nations opposed the proposal, saying it could disrupt their nations’ development.
Representatives of the group is trying to convince delegates from developing countries into putting their agenda item back into the conference's draft document.
About 60 members highlighted their demands by demonstrating before the venue where delegates will negotiate the document with tape over their mouths and a banner that read “Give Future Generations a Voice” and other slogans.
Along with the protest, other groups were taking a more educational approach to the conference.
The Japanese National Preparatory Committee, which consists of conservation groups and economic and labor organizations, held a symposium at the Rio+20 venue under the theme: “Lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: Building Our Sustainable and Resilient Communities.”
“We could deepen our views through dialogue,” said Yuko Sakita, president of Genki Net for Creating a Sustainable Society, who co-chairs the Japanese committee.
For those not participating in Rio+20, at a site in Rio de Janeiro tens of kilometers from the main conference venue, the People’s Summit was under way with private groups and indigenous people discussing how they want the development to be.
Indigenous Brazilians reported in a session at the summit that forests they are living in are threatened by the expansion of soy and other fields.
One representative complained about the pollution of rivers that people rely on with agricultural chemicals and said that their environment has been deteriorating for the past 20 years, a far cry from the sustainable development goals of Rio+20.
(This article was written by Hirohiko Nakamura and Tetsu Kobayashi.)
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