This article was originally published in Outreach. Ben Vanpeperstraete and Olimar Maisonet-Guzman work on behalf of the UN-CSD Major Group of Children and Youth.
By Ben Vanpeperstraete and Olimar Maisonet-Guzman on behalf of the UN-CSD Major Group of Children and Youth.
Although the first version of the Zero Draft tries to capture a diversity of views from Members States and civil society, it falls short in the proposal of solutions and a plan of action for the sustainability challenges that we face. The document diagnoses existing problems, rather than putting forward concrete solutions for overcoming them. For example, most of the language for the governance section proposes either to continue with the current governance structure, or select from a series of conservative reforms.
Although the Zero Draft seeks to address the multiple challenges of energy, water, food and other critical issues, the Framework for Action still fails to propose integrated solutions. By addressing each sector individually, we will not facilitate the transition to a green economy. With equal importance, Member States should guarantee that young people are key players in the green economy, by providing them the necessary education and specialized training.
The Major Group of Children and Youth has called for the upgrade of UNEP because the current design is unable to deliver results and supervise sustainability initiatives. The Draft-Zero expresses the need for implementing this change, however the language should be strengthened to emphasise the need for a specialised UN agency that goes beyond a requirement for universal membership.
The problem is encountered once again when discussing the establishment of an Ombudsperson for Future Generations. This language proposes only the consideration of the idea, rather than the development of a roadmap to achieve the creation of the office. Will it be left to future generations to establish this ombudsperson?
Another aspect that is not embedded in the governance section is related to stakeholder participation. Although the document recognises the importance of including Major Groups in the deliberation process, it fails to mention how the proposed structure will help improve their participation. Additionally, the document does not consider the possibility that some groups may not be captured in the current Major Group design, and therefore further study is needed on how to upgrade the structure to facilitate their participation.
We understand that this is only a first draft. Normally, one starts with an ambitious text which decreases in ambition during the process. However, starting with a fairly weak text and building it to a stronger text is rather new to us, and we are eager to see how this develops.