Young people as catalysts of change for sustainable development

Young people, they say, are the hope of any nation. They are the new generation that will go on to inherit the earth. The same earth which is already confronted with several environmental challenges, and is in danger of losing more of its rich natural resources, as globalization continues to take place at a rapid pace.
The world over is also trying to prioritize issues of environment because of the fact that it has now become a global issue that needs to be dealt with seriousness. And when we talk about a global issue, it involves people from every walk of life, people from every age group and people from every nook and corner of the world.
At such a juncture, it is also pertinent that our young people are empowered with knowledge, skills and visions, as it is equally important to listen to their voices because the future ultimately belongs to them. The hope to have a greener and healthier environment will, to a large extent, also depend on the contributions made by the younger generation and how they translate their knowledge into actions.

Youth and Sustainable Development

The core underlying belief behind the concept of Sustainable Development is that future generations have as much of a claim over the earth and its resources as present generations do. They have the right to access to these resources and also benefit from this use. But while this concept of trans-generational equity usually refers to the unborn millions who will inherit this planet, the pace of environmental degradation and exploitation of natural resources have reached such a pace that there is a danger that many of the youth today would not be able to enjoy the same opportunities we do today.
Therefore, as those who, in the future, will bear the consequences of our actions today, the voice of the youth plays a crucial role towards the development of the country, notwithstanding the fact that this important stakeholder has often been sidelined and given very little importance. However, as has been the aim of the Indian Mountain Initiative to “be the platform for networking, sharing and bringing issues of the mountains for the benefit of all stakeholders”, LEAD India in partnership with ICIMOD, Sustainable Development Forum Nagaland, and YouthNet will be spearheading a youth conference on sustainable mountain development, prior to the Kohima Summit from 22nd – 23rd September, 2013

Youth Summit:

Primarily conceptualized with the view that the youths also get a chance to present their perspectives on sustainable development, the Youth Summit will focus on the development priorities of the youth; their concerns, and how they think these should be addressed. In this regard, some of the main objectives of the summit are as follows:-

  • Developing a shared understanding of sustainable development in mountain states;
  • Identifying the youth specific challenges vis-à-vis the themes (Water, Forests & Agriculture)
  • Outlining their concerns and perspective on how to address these challenges; and
  • Providing the youth with specific leadership skills.

The findings that emerge from this youth programme will feed into the main summit deliberations (Indian Mountain Initiative- Sustainable Mountain Development Summit) while the conference is expected to come up with a Common understanding of what sustainable development is, develop a document stating the development priorities of the youth and a set of recommendations on how the youth believe IMI themes should be approached.
The Youth Summit will have at least 5 participants each from all the 11 Indian Himalayan States and 2 hill districts of Darjeeling and West Bengal. About 100 participants including youths from Nagaland are expected to take part in the Conference scheduled to be held at the Naga Heritage Village, Kisama. The summit can also be viewed as a platform for young people to come and discuss, share their perspectives and learn as there will be lots of group learning and skills sharing. The Summit will further have field visits, drawing the attention of young people to nature while apart from these activities, a plenary session with the young politicians of the state is on the pipeline.

Media Cell
Sustainable Development Forum Nagaland.

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