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What Rio+20 means to me – The promise of a global conversation on sustainable development

By: Fatin Chowdhury
June 16, 2012 from Houston International Airport, Texas

I’m currently writing from Houston airport, on a layover en route to Rio de Janeiro for the Rio+20 Earth Summit. I wanted to share a few thoughts:

The world should pay attention to the Rio+20 Earth Summit because it represents an international forum where dialogue and collaboration can allow us to achieve sustainable development globally. My name is Fatin Chowdhury and I am one of the delegates and core members extremely excited to be heading off to the conference with the Students on Ice Alumni Delegation. As youth who have had the amazing opportunity to visit the Arctic and/or Antarctic regions, it is our perspective that the Polar Regions are crucially important to global sustainable development. The Earth Summit will bring together decision-makers from around the world to focus on the themes of creating a green economy and establishing the institutional framework for sustainable development. The Polar Regions need to be integrated in these dialogues as the emerging challenges in these fragile ecosystems will have a global impact with environmental, social, and also economic impacts.

The trip to the Arctic definitely shaped my perspective on the world and how the Inuits living in regions such as Pangirtung or Cape Dorset are being impacted adversely by the impacts of climate change. The expedition, while words can’t describe it well enough, certainly opened my eyes to ways of thinking and perceiving the world around me I was oblivious to – the importance for the convergence between economic and environmental sustainability is mandatory and must become inevitable.

I see immense value in this conference as it will allow us to communicate the necessity for sustainable development with people from around the world. I believe that we are part of a movement where we can build communities of people whose voices continue to strengthen and help shape policies and change our governments’ priorities. This conference brings us another step closer to achieving such a society where we don’t disregard the negative externalities for short run economic profit and think about the long term implications of our actions and inactions. When we compare this event with the 1992 Earth Summit, we can note a few differences. We have become a lot more educated in our understanding of climate change and our mindsets about how we treat the world are changing. Still, we need to commit to making the changes we feel necessary – as individuals and as countries. I see individuals in my community, my friends, and family members who are making small changes to reflect a more sustainable lifestyle. These personal actions collectively can induce the conditions for behavioural change and help us achieve a state where we can live more meaningful lives. However, governments and decision-makers have been moving slowly to addressing the impacts of climate change. In the last 20 years, there have been notable achievements but such successes have been stunted as economic concerns undermine environmental policies. In our discussions about the green economy, we need to acknowledge and act on the understanding that the environment and the economy are not mutually exclusive but rather interdependent on each other.

The next 10 days will be an amazing opportunity to learn and experience how international negotiations work from the front lines. While there can be frustration about the pace of the dialogues, it is important to remember that youth provide an insurmountable voice to influencing decision-makers and we can have an impact. So, join us in this adventure and let’s try to join the conversation about sustainable development! To our future!

Here are some links to get you going:

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/05/2012525124410713933.html

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/04/201243844723773.html

http://www.uncsd2012.org/

http://www.ciel.org/HR_Envir/Rio20_Index.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2011/11/02/pol-environment-earth-summit-changes.html

 

Also, don’t forget to join our livestream of the Side Event we are hosting at www.soidelegation.com at 6:30 pm EST on Monday June 18.

Message me with your thoughts and questions about the conference or anything you want to learn more about. I ask you: how do you define sustainable development and how can we achieve it? Comment below or email me at fatin@soidelegation.com !


Fatin Chowdhury 
Polar Research Co-Director
Alum, Students on Ice 2010 Arctic Youth Expedition
fatin@soidelegation.com
Fatin Chowdhury currently resides in Mississauga, Ontario and is currently enrolled in his second year of Environmental Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He won the National Brita Eco-Challenge enabling him to participate in the Students On Ice Arctic 2010 Expedition. This opportunity helped him gain a deeper appreciation of the intricate factors that are contributing to current and future environmental problems. He is strongly passionate about environmental conservation and interested in finding pragmatic solutions to emerging problems. His summer internship at the Society for Environment and Human Development (SEHD) in Bangladesh in 2006 opened his eyes to the impact of climate change in developing nations and realize the need for international co-operation in the future. He has also served as an executive of the Peel Environemntal Youth Alliance, facilitating educational presentations and collaborating with youth on environmental initiatives.Fatin has gained valuable industry and government experience with Environment Canada developing Renewable Fuels Regulations and by working as a Project Manager at Rio Tinto Iron Ore Company of Canada. From these experiences, he has acquired insight into the obligations and responsibilities of key stakeholders in influencing market decisions. As the Vice President for Research at Engineers Without Borders Waterloo, he is passionate about international development and believes systemic change is fundamental to solving complex problems. While he has an odd sense of humour, he also enjoys delving into photography and enjoys reading the National Geographic magazine. He is very excited to be a member of the SOI Delegation and impact change on international policies at the Earth Summit.

 


1 Comment

  1. Lucas says:

    Hey Fatin! Great article. On behalf of myself and all of PEYA I hope you are successful in igniting a sense of urgency among the world’s leaders. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself too.

    Lucas

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