hat do you dream of for your community? What would life look like if you could design it? We all have heard about the future we must avoid, but what about the Future We Want?
A group of Fijian youths have come together to visualize what their future should be like in 20 years time.
The United Nations Secretary-General had announced a new campaign to promote sustainable development as the world prepared for the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development which is in progress in Brazil's stunning city of Rio de Janeiro from 13th - 22nd June.
The campaign is called "The Future We Want" - a global conversation about what people in the world want their communities to be like 20 years from now.
Its purpose is to engage people around the world in an exercise to envision how societies in all parts of the world can build a future that promotes prosperity, equity and improves people's quality of life within the Earth's life support systems.
The United Nations called upon us youth to participate in the discussions of the Future We Want in preparation for the Rio+20.
Members from Project Survival Pacific answered this call in April 2012.
Over the next two months, they convened in Suva to plan, discuss and visualise what kind of community, country and world they would like to be living in the year 2030.
"It was important for us as youth of Fiji to answer to the call because we, coming from a small island country realise the potential risks we face in the coming future.
Our livelihoods are increasingly being affected by risks like climate change. We need to take charge and get our voices heard since it is our future that is being negotiated right now", said Zainal Shah, Project Survival Pacific's National Director (Fiji).
The outcome is a six page, Future We Want 2030 youth vision document titled "Our World: Unlocking Our Future Through Sustainability."
On May 15th 2012, Project Survival Pacific submitted these visions to the United Nations.
The result of this campaign which gathered the aspirations and visions of the world's people will be exhibited at Rio+20, depicting what sustainable communities around the world might look like 20 years from now.
The exhibit will use the power of today's communications technologies to give life to the scientific and policy documents that tell us about our challenges and our opportunities in the years ahead.
Our Future We Want 2030 youth visions were also presented to the Fiji Government Delegation to Rio+20 Earth Summit at a meeting before they left for Brazil. It was received well and we were informed that our views will be used in the Prime Minister's interventions during Rio+20.
Why is there a need for Future We Want dialogue?
Today in our large and complicated world, it is still possible for people to bring about historic change. "Change agents" of all ages are working around the world to improve our lives and to address some of our most pressing global problems.
It's evident the environmental costs of our development models can no longer be sustained.
We must achieve abundance, security and quality in our lives with greater resource efficiency and ecological footprints that represent our fair share of the Earth's carrying capacity.
We already have the solutions, technologies and designs we need to build a far more sustainable world.
What often is missing is our understanding of how these solutions can be applied and shared.
We have sufficient experience and science to identify the major challenges that stand in the way of a more sustainable world. What often is missing is the political will to turn that knowledge into action.
What is missing in the conversations about issues such as climate change, high population growth, poverty, rapid urbanization and resource competition? Why do so many people remain disengaged from solving these problems?
So far, a few critical items are missing from the world's policy conversations; these are your visions and your solutions.
One reason is that with a concept like "sustainable development" we relate much better to what we can see and experience. That's where The Future We Want comes into play.
The Future We Want aims to unleash the power of positive vision, recognising what we must avoid, but focusing on what we can build if we put our minds and hands to the task.
We, the youth, have thought a lot about what we would do if we were in charge of the world; if we were the leaders of the world's governments, what would we do in order to save our collective future?
In a world full of unequal influence, the voices of young people are often overlooked and all too often underestimated.
We have the background and competence to be at the discussions and negotiating tables, where we can play a critical role in building our sustainable future.
Devika Raj, a member of Project Survival Pacific from Labasa who is part of our Future We Want discussions, says that "the Future We Want conversations are a rare opportunity for us youth to share our thoughts on why we need a more sustainable future."
"It gives us a chance to voice out our problems and provide solutions for them. Earth is the only planet we have and let's face it; we need it more than it needs us. The Future We Want dialogues will help in educating the people about sustaining our future."
So, what happens to Future We Want conversation after Rio+20 ends next week?
Recognising the power of positive visions and how it can drive changes toward people based solutions to achieving sustainability; Project Survival Pacific has adopted the Future We Want dialogues as one of our key programs. We will be bringing more of such conversations to you, in your communities, in your towns very soon.
Krishneil Narayan is the Executive Director of Project Survival Pacific. Project Survival Pacific is a 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.
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