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"youth perspectives: environmental issues in contemporary societies" - my experience with YPARD

I was asked to give a presentation to the Open Ceremony of the conference ‘Youth Perspectives: Environmental Issues in Contemporary Societies’, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, from April 27-29 2012.  The conference was organized by Geneva International Model United Nations, GIMUN, a fully student run (with great professionalism and high enthusiasm!) NGO with consultative status at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In this participatory conference, participants (16-28 year young adults) worked in small committees and represent their own opinions to draft a UN-style resolution on a specific topic, which will be then shared with UN and NGO networks. Every year GIMUN organizes a ‘Youth Perspectives’ on a different topic. The topic of this year was: environmental issues in contemporary societies:          
  1. Modern societies’ weaknesses facing environmental catastrophes
  2. Degrowth: a solution to protect the environment?
  3. Protecting biodiversity: issues of urbanism
  4. Future of traditional knowledge: threats and solutions?
The conference was attended by some 50 young committed and enthusiastic participants from all over the world. The outcome document can be found at http://gimun.org/youth-perspectives-2012-aftermath. As one of YPARD founder, I was asked to share my experience about YPARD. While preparing the short speech, I was impressed to notice how much YPARD and the ‘Youth Perspectives’ have in common!!! In fact, Youth Perspectives aims at 1) Encouraging exchange and networking between young people; 2) Give young people a voice to express and defend their opinion; 3) Develop the militant engagement of participants on international questions; 4) Promote the capacity building of young people. I talked about when and how the idea of YPARD was born: during the EFARD meeting Zurich 2005, where merely ‘grey haired’ people were sitting to discuss the future of ARD in Europe: the participation of the young generation was a must! We furthermore discussed about how similar are the goals or YPARD and those of the youth perspectives. Of course YPARD has a focus on agriculture, while the youth perspectives focus on UN topics. YPARD leaflet have been distributed during the aperitif following the opening ceremony. Hopefully, some more committed members will join YPARD and some YPARD members will participate to the next Youth Perspectives next year!  Alessandra Giuliani is one of the YPARD founders and one of the first and former SC members. She remains very active among YPARD community and is particularly of great support in building up YPARD Europe chapter.