Why We Need Events Like Stockholm+50
Last June 2-3, members of CoalitionWILD attended Stockholm+50. Among these members was Diana Garlytska, former co-chair of CoalitionWILD’s Steering Committee, Advisory Board Member, and currently the Regional Vice Chair for West Europe of IUCN Commission on Education and Commission. Diana attended as part of the Youth Task Force which had the honor of sitting down with the UN Secretary General António Guterres. Here, she tells us about her experience during the international meeting and shares why events like Stockholm+50 matters.
Going into Stokcholm+50 as part of the Youth Task Force, Diana carried with her excitement. Undoubtedly, she was excited to be part of such a momentous occasion. After all, the event also marked the fiftieth anniversary of the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. She entered the scene looking forward to meeting her peers, and deeply honored for the opportunity. As a young professional, she was prepared to soak in the knowledge, learn, and meet people in the industry.
One of the personalities she met was no other than the UN Secretary General himself António Guterres. As part of the Youth Task Force—a group of selected young people coming from different continents tasked with bringing forth urgent environmental challenges from their regions—she had the honor of sharing a conversation with Guterres. Understanding Europe’s position as the leader in the transition to a circular economy, Diana took the opportunity to also highlight that the skills of young specialists and green job offers do not match the demand. She spoke about green education (both formal and informal) as well as green jobs and the connection between the two.
Diana also took the chance to speak of the experiences of displaced children from Ukraine, her home country, especially in the context of the war. Diana shared that it was an emotional moment for her, having the chance to speak of something so close to home, but that she felt genuine empathy from her audience. She acknowledges that the issues she raised require more than just overnight solutions, and is glad to have sensed a strong sense of commitment from the group.
Diana shared that she was pleased to see increasing youth representation throughout the gathering. “This would be unthinkable some 50 years ago and that’s a good illustration of how much has changed both in perspective and approaches to environmental work and policy making,” she shared.
However, there is still work to be done. When asked what else she would have asked Guterres given more time, she suggested increasing youth participation gobally. “Young people may be perceived as rebellious and demanding,” she narrated. “But while having high expectations towards the decision makers, we want to be part of the solution and equal participants of the process. UN enables that in many ways, yet I trust there is more space for youth to contribute globally.”
Overall, Diana was pleased to be part of Stockholm+50 and finds the value in such engagements. She found that the particular Stockholm+50 was important as we lead up to the next COP events. She also appreciated how the event reinforced the urgency of a number of topics.
One of the greatest achievements of the Stockholm+50 Youth Task Force was the development of 3 documents: the Handbook, the Educational Output and the Policy Paper. The latter has reflected the challenging demands towards politicians, policy and decision makers urging them to take bold actions towards a green future in various fields of economy, law and social sector. Most importantly the document is a product of numerous public consultations and reflects the opinions of Youth globally.
Stockholm+50, with its theme “‘A Healthy Planet for the Prosperity of All – Our Responsibility, Our Opportunity,” provided a great avenue to find ways to accelerate the achievements of many multilateral policy agreements, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, and the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Further, it provides a takeoff point for a series of important meetings slated to happen throughout the year, such as the COP15 and the COP27.
Hence, alongside Diana, CoalitionWILD is excited to continue to be part of gatherings such as Stockholm+50. More than that, we stand in the call for greater youth representation and empowerment and continue to believe that young people’s voices should be at the center of preparation for and design of any major environmental policy development, consultation processes, and events.