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YOUTH: Danijela Zunec, Rescue Mission Croatia, and Peter Wilson, Global Kids-Jamaica/USA, introduced speakers from youth-based NGOs in Japan, India, Latvia, the US, Nigeria, Canada, Argentina, the Netherlands, the UK, Zimbabwe and Senegal. They evaluated youth activities since UNCED, including: local environmental initiatives; youth NGO networks; educational seminars; local fund-raising drives; scientific research projects; and a children’s translation of Agenda 21. They highlighted priority issues, including: education, participation in decision-making, gender balance, homelessness, human rights, recycling and sustainable production and consumption.

Three speakers identified priorities and challenges for the future. Bijaya K. Pokharel, Students Partnership WorldWide (Nepal), called for financial mechanisms to allow youth’s ideas to be realized. He called on governments to provide access to micro-credit for youth and to invest in training and capacity-building. Adela M. Rodriguez, International Federation of Settlement Houses and Neighborhood Centers (US), emphasized the importance of education and called on governments to fund non-formal education and invest in social services to increase people’s capacity to contribute to a sustainable future. Anuragini Nagar, Rescue Mission India, discussed participation and noted that youth lack access to decision makers and recommended that governments include youth representatives on their delegations.

UGANDA noted the need for employment, education and political empowerment for youth and also called for action on AIDS and drugs. WEDO recommended that youth realize and focus on their power to influence through voting. The NETHERLANDS emphasized youth’s ability to change policies at local and national levels. The PHILIPPINES underlined malnutrition as a problem that inhibits youth from realizing their full potential. BELGIUM, the US and a number of youth representatives highlighted the work of Rescue Mission on sustainable development indicators. CANADA asked what youth would like to result from UNGASS. Many responded that they seek access to information, increased support for awareness, skill-sharing and empowerment, and support for new and innovative ways of actively involving youth and NGOs in the sustainable development debate. TANZANIA said youth must communicate with their missions and said their job is to challenge governments. Discussants also focused on peer education, poverty, poor working conditions for youth and marginalization, particularly of indigenous youth.

SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COMMUNITIES: Julia Marton- Lefevre, International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), provided an overview of NGO mechanisms for international cooperation in science and technology. Sophie Boyer King described ICSU partner programmes, including the World Climate Research Programme, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and Diversitas Rationale, a research programme on biodiversity, which illustrate a successful coordination of NGOs, IGOs and governmental organizations to produce information for sustainable development. Mohammed Hassan, Third World Academy of Sciences, said sustainable development depends on scientific knowledge and domestic capacity, local solutions and local experts, and full and effective participation of scientific communities from both North and South. He noted the enormous gap between North and South in the ability to produce and access scientific information.

Veena Ravichandran, ICSU, noted that bio-resources provide a great opportunity for developing countries to increase their wealth. James Poirot, World Federation of Engineering Organizations, discussed the responsibility of engineers in sustainable development, such as information sharing, education and technological assessment. He highlighted changes to the canon of ethics for the American Society of Civil Engineers that incorporate principles of sustainable development. Roland Fuchs, Global Change System Analysis Research and Training, described programmes on capacity-building strategies, scientific support for policy formulation, and engaging the policy community.

Anne White, Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (GEC), described efforts to examine the socio-economic, industrial and cultural forces driving GEC. Core programmes examine: industrial transformations; institutional dimensions; and GEC and human security and perceptions. George Rabb, IUCN, described humanity's supreme ignorance of biodiversity in terms of quantities of species and their values. He commented on the limitations of protected areas and instruments such as CITES, and the appropriateness of biosphere reserves, sustainable use in regional contexts, and investing in local peoples’ capacities.

Panelists proposed that UNGASS engage in a “real” dialogue session. They also called for support for international research and national-level scientific education. Discussants also addressed: research and development priorities; assessment of scientific research efforts; the public image of science; efforts to address desertification; duplication of work; and indigenous capacity-building.

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