Sustainable development is growth that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
When speaking of "future generations" we are, in fact, referring to the current generations of children and youth. Approximately half of the world's population is under the age of 25.
Sustainable Development has a long history, but don't worry I am not going to get into that here.
My story starts with a message especially for all the youth readers.
You and I are too young to remember this but about 20 years ago, in 1992 to be exact, there was a United Nations Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil called the Earth Summit.
Its aim was to find new ways of developing our planet, taking into account all our needs while respecting our natural environment. However, the conference didn't achieve this.
Speaking at the event on behalf of the world's youth a young 12 year old girl named Severin Suzuki said, "This conference has ensured increase domination by those who already have Power."
"It has robbed the poor of the little power they had and made us all victims of the market economy that has threatened our planet."
Now, I hear you asking "Haven't things changed since then?"
Well let's put it this way. The world now has 7 billion people in it and its wealth now amounts to 60 trillion US dollars. But, while the planet has never been richer, the environment has never been worse off and the gap between rich and poor keeps getting wider and wider, day after day.
Alright, so what can we do about this?
We've got two options:
1. We could throw in the towel and basically let the world perish; OR
2. We could call on world leaders to TRULY commit to what they promised to do 20 years ago and prepare the world for what is to come in order to avoid letting future generations ù that means you and I, the children and youth ù carry the burden.
If you decided to go for option 2, you'll be glad to know that from 13th- 22nd of June this year, there is going to be a second UN Earth Summit in Rio that people are calling Rio+20.
Rio+20 will be one of the most important global meetings on sustainable development in our time. It is a historic opportunity to define pathways to a sustainable future ù a future with more jobs, more clean energy, greater security and a decent standard of living for all.
To help us frame the debate a bit, the United Nations has set out two themes for this summit, called the "Green Economy" and "The Institutional Framework".
The Green Economy is about education and knowledge about the food we eat and the energy we use; about cities and transport. In short, it's about how we lead our everyday lives.
The Institutional Framework is about political structures both local and global; about how you and I can participate in these structures; and about how they work.
You're probably thinking: "What can I do about this?"
Well most importantly, you can get involved in the process. And the best part is the United Nations wants YOU to participate. At the 1992 Earth Summit, it started giving civil society ù that means you and me (or "major groups" to use the UN term) a role in the process and that's been growing ever since. For the Rio Summit in June the UN has already called eight times for our participation. We have to fill that space.
Project Survival Pacific has answered this call. As young people of the Pacific, we have decided to get involved the in Rio+20 processes and have a say in the type of future we want. In the weeks leading up the Rio Summit, Project Survival Pacific will be working on campaigns that focus on the themes of Rio+20 and making submissions to the stakeholders, negotiators, ambassadors and heads of states.
Remember, this is not some old people's summit. This is our generation's summit. Rio+20 is Rio for twenty somethings. And right now it seems we are still talking like its 1992. Like the language and people who are going to be at the summit are left over from the last century.
But I have to warn you about something. For the first couple of months you are active, you might not generate as much impact as you would like. You might be very passionate and committed. You might feel that your work is falling short. It takes a while ù it will take you a while ù but you just have to fight your way through that. Don't give up. And hear this: You are NOT alone!
This fight that you are carrying on, others have already started it. There are lots of young volunteers out there, trying to make this whole complex story understandable and finding ways to fine-tune it.
So, check out http://youthprojectsurvival.org. Join us and let's get moving!
Another World is possible.
Krishneil Narayan is the Executive Director of Project Survival Pacific. PSP is a regional youth environmental organisation that works to safeguard the survival of the Pacific island people from the impacts of climate change and to promote sustainable development within the Pacific.