“Colombo+20: The Future We Want”
Colombo+20 - The Future We Want, an advocacy campaign that reflected the theme of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, commonly known as Rio+20: "the Future We Want", was organized by three youth networks, the V-Force (National Voluntary Taskforce), Youth for a Greener Sri Lanka (YGSL) and the National Youth Services Council (NYSC), and brought together youth from every corner of Sri Lanka.
The event was held at Independence Square on the 1st of July 2012, from 3:00pm to 7pm and was attended by people from all walks of life including several well-known personalities such as the Minister of Environment for the Western Province: Hon. Udaya Gammanpila, Secretary of the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Skills Development: Mr S. S. Hewapathirana, national cricketer Chamara Kapugedera and the Chairman of National Youth Services Council (NYSC) Lalith Piyum Perera..
This initiative was supported and endorsed by several UN agencies, including the United Nations Volunteers and underscored the importance of the Rio+20 summit and its outcomes on sustainable development. The Chairman of the National Youth Services Council Mr. Lalith Piyum Perera emphasized the importance of ensuring that the outcomes of the summit see the light of the day in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, he added “given that, the youth can be the change and the future leaders of the nation, they are the ones who should implement any decision taken at any summit. They have to work towards realizing the outcomes of these summits. Opportunities such as RIO+20 may come only once in a life time, and decisions that are taken at such summits determine the future of the planet.”
Colombo+20 was planned and executed by young volunteers from the V Force and YGSL representing an array of bodies, organizations, and also the corporate sector. They were guided and supported by the United Nations Volunteers programme and the National Youth Service Council as these bodies want to promote and facilitate the power of volunteerism. “This was a new example of the high potential of volunteering with its very long tradition in Sri Lanka. Through their tireless effort and inspiring enthusiasm these young volunteers were able to reach a wide public on the issues of sustainable development, through their diverse programme of activities” said Natal Donnaloia UNV Programme Officer.
The public was made aware of various issues through a series of interactive information stalls or several activities for the youth and those young at heart including an ‘Amazing Race’ which featured quizzes on sustainable development, with the participants challenged to solve hidden clues and riddles. Several dance performances by NYSC, flashmobs from AIESEC, and a solo performance by ?? added extra color and variety to the afternoon.
One of the highlights of the event was the public painting of two buses by the students of the Academy of Design to carry the messages that reflect the future wanted, and dreamt of, by the members of the public present at the event. “This change we want does not end with Rio. The youth will carry it on to the future”, said Minister Udaya Gammanpila. He added: “It is our responsibility to reduce our individual carbon footprints through simple means such as planting trees, switching off unnecessary bulbs and staying true to the “reduce, reuse, recycle” philosophy. Even the smallest of things can change the bigger picture.”
“With its rich biodiversity, high natural resource base: including the large exclusive economic zone which is five times more than the land area, potential renewable energy sources such as hydro, biomass, wind, solar, wave energy etc. and relatively high levels of trained human capital including more than 20% of the population comprising of youth, Sri Lanka has the ideal enabling environment to aim at a sustainable future” said Dr. Ananda Mallawatantri who is the Team Leader for Environment, Energy and Disaster Risk Reduction at UNDP Sri Lanka. Furthermore, he added that “Sri Lanka’s youth can play a catalytic role in sensitizing the public on the potential, needs and benefits of sustainability and resilience climatic challenges and the opportunity and advantages of green growth and green jobs. This is exactly what the “Youth for a Greener Sri Lanka” movement together with its partner organizations put to action at Colombo+20.”
More details on the event can be found on http://www.facebook.com/#!/YouthForaGreenerSriLanka