Home » Blog » One year later, we have a reason to attend the Earth Summit

One year later, we have a reason to attend the Earth Summit


By: Andrew Wong
May 30, 2012

I’m sitting by the window on a train heading to Toronto. My destination and purpose? I’m going to the Brazilian Consulate in Toronto to pick up my visa that will let me enter Brazil for the Rio+20 Earth Summit.

As I look out the window, gazing at the fleeting scenery, momentarily fixing my eyes upon suburban houses and trees as they pass by, I think about how far we have come as a team this past year, and how close we are to reaching some of our goals and how close we are to Rio. Around this time last year, as things were just getting started, our delegation was searching for its identity, and going to Rio for the Rio+20 Earth Summit was just a dream. After twelve months of consistent, impassioned effort by our team members, we have gained so much knowledge on polar issues and experience   with the United Nations system. We have given ourselves a reason to attend the Earth Summit.

Over the past year, our team has worked on so much together. Our team’s first collaborative effort resulted in an input document which was submitted to the United Nations for the Zero Draft Compilation Document, the initial text which served as a foundation for the Rio+20 negotiations happening today. Then, from January to May, more than a dozen of us from across Canada, the US, Norway, and Hong Kong worked together week after week to research, write, and publish a detailed, peer-reviewed recommendation paper entitled ‘Navigating from Rio+20 to Polar Sustainability’, which has been presented to Rio+20 negotiators and polar decision-makers. I believe it is a valuable document that will make a positive difference, and I am so proud of our team for having created it.

In addition to our written work, our delegates have made a visible impact in our local communities by educating others. Team members from Canada, the US, Norway, and Mexico have spoken to over 2200 youth and civil society in 20 presentations about the polar regions and the importance of polar sustainability. We hope we can inspire others to live every day more sustainably to protect the polar regions and this planet.

As an international youth delegation, we are concerned for the future of the polar regions due to climate change and the possibility of unsustainable resource development. Instead of sitting around talking about problems and doing nothing, we have taken meaningful action over the last year. Because of that, we have a reason to attend the Earth Summit. Yes, global issues are complex, but we hope our actions can inspire world leaders and decision-makers to do the same.

As I pick up my visa from an employee at the Brazilian Consulate, he gleefully says to me: “You’re going to Rio+20? Excellent! Go save the planet for us!!!”

I smile back at him. Sorry amigo, ‘saving the planet’ cannot be done alone. We all have a role on this planet, you and me. We all have a responsibility to the planet. And we all have it inside ourselves to act.


Andrew Wong 
Founder and Executive Director
Alum, Students on Ice 2010 Arctic Youth Expedition
andrew@soidelegation.com
@AndrewLFWong (Twitter)
Andrew Wong is from Burlington, Ontario and is currently studying Urban Planning and Environmental Economics at the University of Waterloo. Andrew is a passionate defender of the environment and wants to improve the future for the planet and its people. In 2007, Andrew founded the Nelson Greenhouse Horticulture Society, a high school program that educates students about horticulture and immerses them in greenhouse management operations. Andrew has also worked with Earth Day Canada on corporate conservation practices, volunteered with the BurlingtonGreen Environmental Association on species restoration, and was Vice-Chair of TEDxUWO featuring notable speakers such as Wade Davis and Ray Zahab. Andrew is honoured to be the recipient of the 2010 Toyota Earth Day National Award, the 2011 ECO Canada Award, and the 2011 Canada’s Next Green Journalist by Environmental Defence. In his spare time, he enjoys getting outdoors for nature photography and enjoys playing the piano, painting wildlife, and tries to inspire others to care about the environment. Participating in the 2010 Arctic Expedition instilled in Andrew a deeper understanding of the environment and brought a new sense of urgency to protect the polar regions. Andrew founded and is leading the SOI Alumni Delegation because he believes the upcoming Earth Summit is the most significant opportunity to address the very real environmental, economic, and social sustainability issues in the polar regions. He is honoured to be working with very passionate Students on Ice alumni and supporters.

1 Comment

  1. Jessica Magonet says:

    Beautiful blog post Andrew!

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