Countdown to Rio Summit as York school goes global
A ‘mini Earth Summit’ is set to have major impact for a York school, which is representing the concerns of British schoolchildren to high-level decision-makers from around the world at the Rio Earth Summit.
Students from the Joseph Rowntree School will today launch the countdown to their own ‘Jo Rio’ Earth Summit – timed to coincide with the United Nations environmental conference – and have invited the Leader of the City of York Council to help them. It is part of the Good Life Initiative in which the school has worked with researchers from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York.
Councillor James Alexander will join the 12- and 13-year-old students for an ‘Eco Day’ at the school, which will see them doing everything from constructing an eco-house and building a bicycle out of recycled bike parts to auditing the biodiversity of the school grounds and writing their own ‘eco musical’.
The activities are part of the preparations to showcase the work that has been done for the a celebration of sustainability on 21 June, that will see the school link up with the ‘Rio +20’ Earth Summit in Brazil to put the city on the global map as ‘York +20’.
Councillor Alexander will talk to the students and find out about their involvement in the UN conference, at which the Joseph Rowntree School will be representing not just York but the UK. The young people have already contributed to a film to be shown to a gathering of Nobel Laureates, policy-makers, ministers and members of ‘The Elders’ on 18 June. The film, Voices of the Future, also features schools from Sweden and Brazil and forms part of the sustainable development dialogues that precede the Rio +20 summit.
The Joseph Rowntree students have been inspired to compose their own speeches for world leaders. One of these speeches will be delivered directly to the Rio conference from the Joseph Rowntree event on 21 June, via video link-up.
The previous Rio Earth Summit produced Agenda 21, an international plan for action that was adopted by 178 countries around the world. Children and Youth are one of the major groups contributing to this and the Joseph Rowntree School will be contributing to the process both through the international youth movement lobbying the main conference and through its own summit. The Jo Rio Summit will see the school launching its own sustainability agenda and people attending the event will be asked to commit to making personal pledges to reduce their impact on the planet’s resources.
The Jo Rio Earth Summit at the Joseph Rowntree School is free and open to all. It will be opened by the Lord Mayor of York and VIP guests include Julian Sturdy MP and Green Party Deputy Speaker Adrian Ramsey, both of whom will be invited to take part in an Earth Summit ‘simulation’ – a debate on the themes of the Rio conference, with the students taking the role of representatives from Major Groups and governments.
Steve Cinderby, Deputy Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York, said: “The summit is the culmination of a Joseph Rowntree Foundation-funded project to communicate sustainability as part of the Good Life Initiative with researchers from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York. SEI is facilitating the global link up and communications with Rio, though the students themselves have driven the links with the youth groups at the main conference.”
The Jo Rio Earth Summit takes place from 4 to 8pm on Thursday, 21 June and will also feature debate, drama, music, dance and entertainment, food and drink and stalls from community groups, local organisations and companies.