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Voice of Youth to Be Heard at Johannesburg Summit

By Tierramérica Desk*

The future will be a nightmare if humanity does not take action soon. This is the warning Latin American youth will take to the Rio+10 Summit in August. A society is needed that is committed to the Earth, says the document of the Geo Youth project.

MEXICO CITY – In the year 2025, the Earth will be on the verge of collapse, poverty will reign and the cities will be a nightmare. However, the opposite could happen: love of nature will reign and society will embrace sustainable development.

Young people from Latin America, ages 15 to 25, will present such scenarios, along with their perspectives on environmental issues, at the Summit for Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+10, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, Aug 26-Sep 4.

"The summit is an excellent opportunity to present our work, because there will be experts and decision-makers there," said Loretta Serrano, from Mexico, and member of the regional Geo Juvenil (Geo Youth) network, an initiative of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

A report drawn up by the youth network warns, "if the destructive mentality of humanity continues and we keep acting as if natural resources were inexhaustible… our future will be a nightmare."

Nevertheless, says the text, "if we act soon and appropriately, perhaps by the year 2025 we will live on a planet where respect and love will be the most valuable principles of a society committed to the present and the future of the Earth."

These extreme scenarios are outlined in the document "Geo Youth for Latin America and the Caribbean: Open Your Eyes to the Environment", which is a collection of points of view of some 800 young people active in environmental groups throughout the region.

The report is part of a project begun in 1999 that allows youth to seek ways to contribute to environment-friendly sustainable development.

"It will be the youths themselves who present the project, the report and a deluge of ideas about their initiatives in Johannesburg," said Luis Betanzos, Geo Youth – Latin America and Caribbean coordinator at UNEP.

According to the project's participants, "human beings have utilized, pillaged and forgotten the environment throughout the historic passage through different economic systems, and they have done so most in the post-modern era."

"We are among the increasingly more young people who are concerned about the environmental problem… and it is important that we develop environmental awareness to act accordingly, as well as recognizing that we are responsible for the environmental and social problems," says the report.

After publishing the document, which includes a series of reflections, literary writings, art and information about youth projects that are under way, the members of the network are now working on country-specific reports that outline particular environmental problems.

The national report for Peru will be released in June, while efforts are being made in Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua and Uruguay to produce something similar.

Copyright © 2001 Tierramérica. Todos los Derechos Reservados

Photo credit: Photo Stock.
Photo credit: Photo Stock.

External Links

UNEP – Geo Youth

Johannesburg Summit

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