UN Conference on sustainable development, Rio+20, is over and goes down in history as an unsuccessful conference in our eyes. We are now drained from too many long days with a lot of hard work and are trying to find out if it was all worth it. Did we achieve anything at all?

We had a meeting with some norwegian parliamentarians here in Rio the other day, and they expressed a dissatisfaction with the weak outcome text as well, but they pointed out that the real work begins now. Now this document has to be filled with concrete measures. We can look at the text as a minimum for what has to be done and then hopefully do much, much more than is stated in the outcome document called «The Future We Want». I think they have a point and I am glad to hear that our politicians are ready to work further with this, however, we know that there need to be binding agreements to get everyone to work towards a clear and common goal and thus achieve change. With no clear commitments in the «Future We Want» post-Rio work will be challenging.

But we are the youth and we cannot give up! We are the present generation and many of us might soon be the ones negotiating the terms of the future. So we’ll just have to put our disappointment aside and look ahead. We did not get a high commissioner for future generations in this round but that does not mean that the battle is lost. We knew that it would not be easy.

Ban-Ki Moon said in the opening plenary of the Rio+20 that «our scarcest resource is time, and its is running out». Sadly the UN-system seems to be too slow of a mechanism and precious time has been wasted discussing how to avoid commitments for a susatinable future.

Meetings postponed and no guts to make commitments in Rio+20. Waste of precious time. Photo: Mona Wærnes, ForUM


Paragraph 86 in «The Future We Want» states: «…We will also consider the need for promoting intergenerational solidarity for the achievement of sustainable development, taking into account the needs of future generations, including by inviting the Secretary General to present a report on this issue.»

So this is what we have to work with now, a report that Ban-Ki Moon will write. Hopefully he will remember his own words from the opening plenary at the Rio+20 and acknowledge the need of an institution that will bring the long-term perspective into the work of the UN, namely a high commissioner for future generations, that can ensure that development will be truly sustainable.


We rely on you now, Mr. Moon, to be visionary and have the guts to make things happen.


We’ve started a process that hopefully will give some tangible results, and we have met a whole bunch of people who work towards the same goal as us and have the same visions for the future as we have. It has been extremely valuable and inspiring to work with these people and we have made some good contacts. In addition we have been talking to Heikki Holmås, the norwegian minister for international development, and the rest of the norwegian delegation about Spire’s further efforts to establish a national ombudsperson for future generations. So I guess we achieved something, but we are far from finished. Like the parliamentarians said, the real work has to start now!


Some of the hard working norwegians who’ve been attending Rio+20. Photo: Mona Wærnes, ForUM


-Siv Maren Sandnæs