Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Youth
Major Group Accreditation and Pre-Registration at CSD Meetings


What are the major groups?
?Major Groups? is a term that refers to nine sectors of society who are economic, social and scientific stakeholders in sustainable development?not governments, and distinct from the United Nations and its specialized agencies, funds and programmes. Major Groups were defined in Agenda 21, the outcome document from the first Rio conference in 1992 (the Earth Summit), and today?s global plan of action for implementing sustainable societies. In fact, Rio+20 is all about reviewing Agenda 21 to see how it can be implemented better and faster.

Some people think that Major Groups is the same thing as civil society, but it?s not. It is much wider than civil society because it includes the private sector (i.e. Business and Industry), sub-national authorities such as mayors and other municipal or regional leaders, and others like researchers and scientists.

The concept of Major Groups allows all these different people to sit alongside governments at official UN meetings and discuss sustainable development almost at an equal level. Of course, Major Groups don?t necessarily have all the rights and powers of governments during these talks, but the level of visibility they enjoy within those meetings and conferences helps keep important sustainability issues on the agenda of our world leaders and at the top of their attention?where they belong.

They might be issues that are important to you or your community. So being part of a Major Group gives you a chance to put your ideas forward at the highest level.

The nine Major Groups are:
  1. Women
  2. Children and Youth
  3. Indigenous Peoples
  4. Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs)
  5. Local Authorities
  6. Workers and Trade Unions
  7. Business and Industry
  8. Scientific and Technological Community
  9. Farmers
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I am under 18 years old. Can I participate?
Yes, absolutely! The UN defines 'youth' as persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years, without prejudice to other definitions used by Member States. 'Children' are considered to be persons under the age of 14.

For the purposes of UN conferences and meetings, only individuals over the age of 16 may hold a UN grounds pass. You can apply for accreditation to Rio+20 (if needed) until 20 February 2012 and register for the Conference online here until 27 May 2012 (extended). Participants under 16 years of age may participate in UN conferences and meetings, though only with a designated chaperone. Both participant and chaperone must be pre-registered through an accredited organization.

The Major Group for Children and Youth seeks to coordinate global preparations toward Rio+20 and strengthen the voice of its constituents at the intergovernmental level. Young people interested in participating at Rio+20 should link up with the organizing partners for Children and Youth as soon as possible in order to receive important information and updates pertaining to the Conference.

Rio+Twenties, one of the organizing partners for the Children and Youth sector, has prepared a Participation Guide for young people designed to make the Rio+20 process understandable and provide the tools to effectively get involved. The guide offers specific information for youth, identifies ways to make a real difference and shares a lot of best practices, tips and tricks and existing examples on youth activism.
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How can my organization participate in Rio+20?
There are many ways to contribute and participate in Rio+20 events, but only accredited organizations may attend the official Rio+20 Conference and any of the events organized inside the official venue in Rio de Janeiro.

All accredited organizations may register for Rio+20 online by 20 May 2012. There will be no more registration accepted after that date.

However, many unaccredited organizations undertaking important work in sustainable development will want to (and should!) attend Rio+20. Their views and experiences may be very important and highly relevant to the Conference. They have a one-time opportunity to accredit themselves to Rio+20, but they must do it before 20 February 2012.

The UN will notify everyone about Rio+20 accreditation at the end of March 2012.

Once accreditation is issued, these newcomer organizations can register online immediately (by 20 May 2012). Obviously, any organization that already holds the proper accreditation may register online straight away.

Remember that the UN will never charge a fee at any stage of the accreditation or registration process. The UN will never ask you for information concerning bank accounts. Any such requests for payment should be refused and reported to local law enforcement authorities.

For more information about contributing to Rio+20 without attending the actual Conference itself, here.
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What is the Rio+20 preparatory process, and how can we participate in that?
The preparatory process is extremely important for Rio+20, because it is the period leading up to the Conference when all the most crucial decisions are made. Governments will be negotiating the outcome of Rio+20 for months before world leaders come to Rio de Janeiro to agree on the text and sign it. Most negotiations take place at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The 2012 programme of preparatory meetings leading up to Rio+20 includes:

25-27 January 2012, in New York
Initial discussions on the zero draft of the Rio+20 outcome document

19-23 March 2012, in New York
First round of ?informal-informal? negotiations on the zero draft

26-27 March 2012, in New York
Third Intersessional Meeting of UNCSD (Rio+20)

23 April - 4 May, in New York
Second round of ?informal-informal? negotiations on the zero draft

13-15 June 2012, in Rio de Janeiro
Third Preparatory Committee of UNCSD (Rio+20)

20-22 June 2012, in Rio de Janeiro
The Rio+20 Conference itself

There are also many other unofficial meetings taking place all over the world that will be important opportunities for civil society and Major Groups to meet and organize their efforts. Have a look at the calendar of meetings on the official Rio+20 website. Everyone is free to upload a relevant activity to the calendar?the more information and opportunities, the better!
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What is accreditation?
Accreditation is a process by which organizations request official recognition from the UN. To do this, they must meet certain criteria and demonstrate a good deal of work and organizational structure. When we talk about accreditation for Rio+20, we are specifically talking about organizations that are in consultation with ECOSOC, those on the CSD roster, and those who attended the WSSD in 2002. See the specific sections on those topics for more information.
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What is ECOSOC consultative status?
ECOSOC consultative status is a type of accreditation to the UN, and it refers to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), one of the highest intergovernmental authorities on human development. Because ECOSOC is a place for governments to discuss a range of issues that are important to civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can identify themselves and their work to ECOSOC and request permission to be part of its meetings. Therefore, we may refer to those NGOs as being ?in consultation with ECOSOC?. That means they are fully accredited to the UN.

A special committee of Member States reviews NGO applications for accreditation, and must agree that each organization meets certain criteria demonstrating that their work is relevant to the aims and purposes of the UN. ECOSOC consultative status is one of the acceptable types of accreditation required for participating in Rio+20. Those organizations in consultation with ECOSOC may register online for the Conference immediately.

The list of organizations currently in consultation with ECOSOC can be found online here.
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What is the CSD roster?
The CSD roster is a type of accreditation to the UN, and it refers to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). It permits organizations that work on sustainable development to participate fully in the CSD, without necessarily obtaining full ECOSOC consultative status see above.

Organizations on the CSD roster meet the requirements to participate in Rio+20, and they may register online for the Conference immediately.
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What about NGOs accredited to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)?
This type of accreditation refers to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa. The WSSD was the 10-year follow-up to the first Rio conference in 1992 (the Earth Summit), and a number of organizations were granted one-time accreditation to the Summit. In fact, Rio+20 offers the same opportunity for a one-time accreditation (read more about it here .

Organizations accredited to the WSSD meet the requirements to participate in Rio+20, and they may register online for the Conference immediately.
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I am not sure if my organization is accredited. What should I do?
TIf you are unsure of your organization's accreditation status, you can search for your organization's name online:

If you still can?t find your organization on any of those lists, but you believe it is accredited, please contact the NGO Branch directly.
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How can my organization register for the Rio+20 Conference?
Registration for accredited NGOs and other Major Groups organizations is now open online here .

All accredited organizations may register for Rio+20 online by 20 May 2012 . There will be no more registration accepted after that date.

Organizations that are not accredited to the UN have a one-time opportunity to accredit themselves to Rio+20, but they must do it before 20 February 2012.

The UN will notify everyone about Rio+20 accreditation at the end of March 2012.
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What if I am not part of an organization? Can individuals participate?
No, only representatives of accredited organizations (like NGOs) can participate in Rio+20. UN rules do not allow an individual to participate in official meetings in one?s own personal capacity.

However, there are many ways for individuals, especially children and youth, to participate in events related to Rio+20 happening all over the world. Many of these events are important opportunities for civil society and Major Groups to meet and organize their efforts. Have a look at the calendar of meetings on the official Rio+20 website. Everyone is free to upload a relevant activity to the calendar?the more the better!

For more ideas on sharing your perspectives, here are some of the organizations who are working in various ways to support young people taking action and making sure their voices are heard at the highest levels:

To participate in Rio+20 or local simulations:
  • Rio+20s: One of the organizing partner organizations of the Major Group for Children and Youth. Take a look at the youth participation guide that can answer many of your questions about the official Rio+20 process.
  • MyCity+20: Organizes model UN debates on the issues of sustainable development to raise awareness and encourage young people to take action at the community-level.
  • UNEP Tunza: Will bring talented youth leaders to Rio+20.
  • Youth Blast: Whether you are in Rio de Janeiro or at home, you can participate in person or online.
  • Video Conferences: Earth Child International will be organizing a series of video conferences between children worldwide to share their perspectives with each other, both before and during Rio+20.
  • Official Youth Delegates: You may be able to speak to your government about the importance of having youth and children as a part of the official country delegation. UN Programme on Youth, European Youth Forum, and other groups are working to encourage more governments to bring official youth delegates

To take action at the community-level, identify sustainable development issues in your life, and discuss them with your peers:
  • UN Habitat: I?m a city changer.
  • Youth XChange: Join UNEP & UNESCO to get many ideas on how to take action in your own community around questions of sustainable consumption and production.
  • UNICEF: Map your community's environmental issues, organize community roundtables to discuss with community leaders a common vision for The Future We Want, create community art to share the vision, create an action plan to get there, and launch actions in your neighborhood with support from local organizations. For more information, visit UNICEF?s Future We Want Toolkit.
  • WAGGGS: Consultation guide can help you organize a conversation and training with other young people about sustainable development. WAGGGS also has guides to climate change action that include many of the themes of Rio+20.
  • GEEBiz: Share your great green business idea and showcase the green economy that is already being built by young people today.
  • Rio+YOU: Campaign to raise awareness and get people to take action in their community, leading to Global Day of Action on April 22.
  • Plant-for-the-Planet: Become a Climate Justice Ambassador by participating in a Plant-for-the-Planet Academy in your country. And if there is none: get in touch and we will help you organize one!

To share your perspectives on sustainable development:
  • Official Rio+20 website: Share your photos of what a sustainable lifestyle would look like, send a message to Rio+20, support other peoples? ideas, and pledge your support to the Conference.
  • Future We Want: Join the global conversation, add your image, story, thoughts, or video to tell the world about a sustainable future.
  • Global Youth Music Contest: Create a song and video that share your thoughts on Rio+20 and sustainable development. Winners will perform at Rio+20.
  • Connect4Climate: Share photos and videos of sustainable development issues and solutions from your local area on the World Bank Connect4Climate site.
  • ScenaRIO: A global consultation is taking place to interview thousands of young people. See how you can help or have your voice heard.
  • Road to Rio+20: Coalition of over 60 partner organizations weaving together a youth-led movement to realize the potential of the Earth Summit 2012. Supporting Rio+YOU and MyCity+20 , but also engaging in online mobilization efforts through our comms channels.
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Can people from the academic world participate?
Participating in Rio+20 is much easier if you are part of the Major Groups (see above).

If you are from a school, a university, a research institution, or any other type of academic organization, you can join one of the Major Groups relevant to your work. Others in the Major Group can probably help you with accreditation and registration for Rio+20 (see above). A few of the Major Groups sectors that draw expertise from the academic world are:

Those are just a few suggestions, but really you are free to join any of the Top

I represent a private company. Can I participate?
Absolutely! But you must remember that only accredited organizations may participate in Rio+20, and only Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) can accredit themselves to the UN.

However, there are many ways for representatives from the private sector to participate. Business and Industry is considered one of the nine sectors of society recognized as Major Groups. You can join the Business and Industry coalition set up especially for Rio+20 (called Business Action for Sustainable Development, or BASD).

The Rio+20 process adheres to the structure of Major Groups that was outlined in Agenda 21. Private sector entities must be members of accredited organizations (for example, International Chamber of Commerce or World Business Council for Sustainable Development both members of the temporary coalition of business and industry under the Business Action for Sustainable Development) to pre-register online for the Conference and its preparatory meetings. You may query the database of accredited organizations online here, but you would be advised to contact the Major Groups organizing partners for the Business and Industry sector for more information.
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How can journalists and other media representatives participate?
The UN has very clear guidelines and rules concerning media coverage. In general, the UN tries very hard to make all of its work accessible and transparent. Only if you are using large, bulky equipment (like cameras or a tripod, for example), you must place them inside designated media areas. This is to keep the aisles and corridors clear inside large conference halls, and it is essentially a public safety issue.

Journalists and members of the media should not register for Rio+20 with civil society (NGOs) and Major Groups, but rather through the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit.
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My organization is accredited. What do I need to do now?
Great! Once you?ve figured out whether you hold the proper level of accreditation to the UN, or after you?ve completed the one-time accreditation process specially in place for Rio+20, you should start registering your delegates.

Remember that you will have to provide a lot of personal information about each delegate?including his/her national passport number. It?s best if your organization puts one person in charge of entering it into the system, and it ensures that all required information is given.

There is no limit to the number of delegates each accredited organization can register. But please remember that the deadline for registration is 20 May 2012. There will be no more registration for Rio+20 accepted after that date.

Registration for UN conferences and events is always free of charge. The UN will never charge a fee at any stage of the accreditation or registration process. The UN will never ask you for information concerning bank accounts. Any such requests for payment should be refused and reported to local law enforcement authorities.
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We have not received a letter of invitation to Rio+20. Do we need one?
Yes, you will need a letter of invitation. It will almost certainly be required by your organization to secure your ticket and funding, and it will be required as part of your application for an entry visa to Brazil.

However, you must register online in order to receive your letter of invitation. Once you?ve registered online, the system will automatically generate a confirmation letter (same as a letter of invitation).
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Is there any funding available for youth to participate in Rio+20?
Youth funding from the UN trust fund for Rio+20 is extremely limited. Whenever money is set aside for youth participants, the policy of the UN is to spend it in a way that increases participation from the global South (developing countries). The UN also tries to increase opportunities for women participants. In many cases, it is the Major Groups organizing partners who help the UN find eligible participants from within their networks of organizations.

Because funding is so limited, organizations should expect to arrange their own participants? accommodations and travel, including within metropolitan Rio de Janeiro.

But there are often other sources of funding available, sometimes special funds for youth from the global South and young women. Link up with the Major Groups organizing partners to join their networks and find out when these opportunities become available.
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How many representatives are allowed to register?
The UN wants to attract broad participation and representation to the Rio+20 process. At the present time, there is actually no policy to limit to the number of delegates each accredited organization can register.

However, you should remember that the meeting rooms inside the Rio+20 venue will have limited capacity, and especially during the high-level segments of the Conference (i.e. when Presidents and Prime Ministers of countries will be present). There will be some occasions when meeting rooms will be closed for safety reasons.

When it comes to crowd control inside the Conference hall, UN Safety and Security is in charge. We must work with them to be sure everyone gets a chance to participate safely.
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My organization is not accredited, but I still want to be part of Rio+20. How?
You have several options. If you act fast, and you are part of a legitimate organization that works on sustainable development, you can request a Major Groups organizing partners. The final deadline for all registrations is 20 May 2012. There will be no more registration accepted after that date.
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Am I allowed to record video or sound at Rio+20?
You must be a member of the accredited media to record video and take photos of official plenary meetings (i.e. the main, high-level segments of the Conference). However, nowadays people record video and take pictures with their mobile phones and digital cameras all the time. This is really only allowed during smaller informal meetings (such as side events), and only if your personal equipment doesn?t bother anyone. You cannot bring a tripod inside the meeting room without special permission. It?s usually okay if you film discreetly from your seat, but check with a UN staff member or a security officer if you?re unsure. Asking nicely usually works!.

If you are planning to record an event or take pictures, you should contact the event organizers in advance.

When it comes to crowd control inside the Conference hall, including cameras and the media, UN Safety and Security is in charge. We must work with them to be sure everyone gets a good view.
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What is a side event, and how do I organize one?
A side event is a mini meeting that happens on the margins (on the side) of a bigger meeting or conference. Organizing such mini meetings is a very common practice because it allows many different people to express their views and opinions about sustainable development, and often in a way that is different from the official proceedings inside the main conference hall. Some side events may, in fact, be quite big?especially if they attract famous people to speak or the presentations are particularly interesting.

There is an online toolkit explaining how to organize side events that was developed by other youth organizers. It captures their own experiences and even includes tips on how to make your side event a success.

At Rio+20, there will be two main types of side events: some taking place inside the official Conference venue (called on-site events), and most others taking place in the areas around the official venue (called off-site events).

What?s the difference?
Only officially accredited and registered delegates can participate in on-side events, because you will need to carry an official UN grounds pass issued through the Conference. Off-site events will not have any restrictions, because they will be located outside of the official Conference venue.

You should first determine who you want to come to your side event, and therefore whether it should be organized inside the official venue or outside. Superb resources will be available for both kinds of side events.

On-site events (held inside the official Conference venue) must be organized with the UN, and the guidelines are rio20@itamaraty.gov.br .
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What is SD-Learning, and how do I organize an SD-Learning event?
Knowledge sharing, training and capacity building are important components of achieving full implementation of Agenda 21. Therefore, learning events are part of the official programme of Rio+20, and will run in parallel to the main meetings.

SD-Learning is the term for a series of courses, workshops and events at Rio+20 covering crucial aspects of sustainable development. The courses are meant to build practical knowledge and present hands-on training from experts around the world.

More information about SD-Learning, including how to organize an event yourself, is available online here .
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How do I host a kiosk or pavilion at Rio+20?
Hosting a kiosk or a pavilion can be a fantastic way to show people what you do to implement sustainable development and invite them to more specialized types of briefings, training or workshops. These usually require extra space and they may continue on for several days or more throughout Rio+20.

Therefore, most (if not all) such kiosks or pavilions will be hosted outside of the official Conference venue (off-site?but very close). That means your request must be sent to the Government of Brazil. Guidelines will be available soon, but you are encouraged to share your idea for kiosk or pavilion with the Brazilian authorities as soon as possible to help them plan carefully. Write up your idea for a kiosk or pavilion and send it to rio20@itamaraty.gov.br .
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I am a speaker at a side event, SD-Learning event or some other training. Do I need to be accredited and registered?
Yes, absolutely. Only holders of an official UN grounds pass (issued through the Conference) will be able to participate in any official proceedings and events on the premises of the Rio+20 Conference. That includes panelists, speakers and trainers for on-site side events and SD-Learning events.

The deadline for all registration is 20 May 2012.

See also details about registering participants.
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For more information, contact the Major Groups Programme at: uncsd2012@un.org.
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