- Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
- Stakeholder type: Major Group
- Submission Document: Download
- Additional Document:
Submission by the World Youth Alliance for the Rio+20 compilation document
For more detailed information about the World Youth Alliance and our position on the
relationship between the dignity of the human person and global sustainability, please visit
http://www.wya.net or contact Elyssa Koren, Director of Advocacy, at email@example.com.
The World Youth Alliance, a global coalition of young people committed to promoting the
dignity of the person, stresses that the following principles should be included in the Rio+20
? Each human person is a precious and vital resource, capable of answering the challenges
societies face with innovation and invention.
? The inherent dignity of the human person lies at the root of the goal of promoting
sustainable development practices.
? Education is a foundational element of development.
? Poverty eradication takes place at an individual level, by educating and investing in
persons, and enabling their creativity and natural capacities to develop and flourish.
? The role of women in achieving sustainable development is critical because they are at
the center of social and economic life in their communities.
? Maternal health occupies a special place in our efforts to achieve sustainable
? The desire of women and men to found a family must be considered by States in their
creation of policies on sustainable development and women?s health.
? The entry point for resolving resource scarcity challenges is the infinite potential for
innovation and advancement that resides in the human person.
? The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is essential in protecting human
participation in sustainable development.
Expectations for the outcome of Rio + 20
1. Each human person is a precious and vital resource, capable of answering the challenges
societies face with innovation and invention. In accordance with Principle 1 of the Rio
Declaration on Environment and Development, the World Youth Alliance affirms that ?human
beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development?. It is the intrinsic worth of the
human person that provides the basis on which to found policies and laws that create conditions
under which human beings can flourish. Without such a foundation, human dignity becomes
secondary to the protection of the environment and development. Instead, human dignity is the
reason for the pursuit of a sustainable world and the foundation of human rights.1 This
fundamental relationship between human dignity and the protection of the environment must be
emphasized in the Rio +20 process.
2. The inherent dignity of the human person lies at the root of the goal of promoting
sustainable development practices. The recognition of this dignity is the basis for authentic
development. Authentic sustainable development is understood as taking place at all levels of
society, thereby creating a social, political and economic environment that allows persons to
reach their full potential. It is thus the dignity of each individual person and the value of human
capital as a whole that comprise our greatest resource, and recognition of this should be at the
core of all efforts for sustainability. The Rio +20 outcome document ultimately should reflect
this emphasis on the integral link between the dignity of the human person and sustainable
Human capital at the root of sustainable development
3. At its very essence, global sustainability is about a world that puts people at the center
and uses its economy to serve their interest. The World Youth Alliance recognizes that energy,
food, land and water scarcity is a growing challenge for countries at all levels of development,
and we place great value on our natural environment as a source of both physical sustenance and
immeasurable beauty to be cared for with responsible stewardship. It is imperative that a
response to these challenges be predicated on authentic sustainable development, which holds
the human person at its center and directs human potential towards improvements in society.
Such integral development will ensure the fulfillment of basic needs, and achieve advancements
in every sector of society so that each person will be able to live in a manner commensurate with
his or her inherent dignity.
4. Education is a foundational element of development. The goal of education must be to
help people recognize their dignity and equip them with the necessary tools to exercise their
potential. When members of a population are aware of how their education contributes to
development, they will be more able to fulfill their responsibility in society.
5. With the human person at the center of development, poverty eradication becomes an
important goal of efforts to create a sustainable world. As noted by Principle 5 of the Rio
Declaration, ?All States and all people shall cooperate in the essential task of eradicating poverty
as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, in order to decrease the disparities
in standards of living and better meet the needs of the majority of the people of the world?.
Poverty eradication takes place at an individual level, by educating and investing in persons, and
enabling their creativity and natural capacities to develop and flourish. It requires whole
communities to work together for the common good. Poverty eradication requires strong families
who take seriously their duties and responsibilities in caring for their members and building
Gender equality and sustainable development
6. The World Youth Alliance recognizes that the role of women in achieving sustainable
development is critical. As mothers, providers of food and caretakers of children, the elderly, and
the sick, women are at the center of social and economic life in their communities.
Empowerment of women brings about reduced family poverty, increased health and reduced
7. As such, maternal and women?s health occupy a special place in our efforts to achieve
sustainable development; they are fundamental for the education and economic advancement of
women and girls. Health education that is life-affirming, person-centered, and evidence-based
equips women with the tools to know their bodies, which empowers them and contributes to their
8. However, the issue of women?s health must not be addressed solely within the framework
of the provision of family planning services. The desire of women and men to found a family
must be considered by States in their creation of policies on sustainable development and
women?s health. Because the world?s greatest resource is the human person, sustainable
development should focus not on slowing population growth but on utilizing the potential of
The value of technology and innovation
9. The entry point for resolving the challenge of resource scarcity is the infinite potential for
innovation and advancement that resides in the human person. The creativity of the human
person is the primary catalyst for development. Human creativity generates new ideas and
alternatives for growth and sustainability. It is by empowering all people to take part in a global
sustainable economy that we can begin to address the challenges of population expansion. The
World Youth Alliance affirms Principle 9 of the Rio Declaration, which notes that ?States should
cooperate to strengthen endogenous capacity-building for sustainable development by improving
scientific understanding through exchanges of scientific and technological knowledge, and by
enhancing the development, adaptation, diffusion and transfer of technologies, including new
and innovative technologies?. The central focus of a human dignity-centered approach to
achieving sustainable development should lie in harnessing the capacity and innate ingenuity of
the human person to maximize technological advancements for the good of society.
Recommendations by the World Youth Alliance for the Rio+20 compilation document
The World Youth Alliance specifically urges the Rio+20 process to incorporate the following
1. Principle 1 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which states that
?human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development,? recognizes that human
dignity is the reason for the pursuit of a sustainable world and the foundation of human rights.
Authentic sustainable development is understood as taking place at all levels of society, thus
creating social, political and economic conditions that enable social and economic growth. The
principle of subsidiarity affirms the importance of local input and solutions to development, and
prioritizes the inclusion of these voices as the first and necessary step of sustainable
The right to health
2. The right to health is an essential component of sustainable development. Ensuring that
individuals have access to health services directly contributes to poverty eradication and
economic growth. Health services refers to basic health care, which includes access to clean
water, sanitation, and basic nutrition.
Maternal health care
3. Developing areas in most regions of the world are furthest from achieving the
Millennium Development Goals. Currently, MDG 5, on maternal health, is the least achieved
MDG. The provision of basic maternal health care is critical to protect the lives of women and
mothers and must be the focus in attaining the MDG and sustainable development. Recognizing
that health of women enables protection of vulnerable children and in particular increases
livelihood and educational opportunities for girls, maternal health is essential for sustainable
development. Statistics show that maternal morbidity is highest in the rural areas of developing
countries. Only one-third of rural women receive the recommended prenatal care and only twothirds
receive prenatal care at least once. Furthermore, there are disparities between urban and
rural women: urban women are twice as likely to receive professional care at childbirth than are
rural women. In particular, sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and Oceania have the lowest
attendance by skilled personnel and the highest maternal mortality.
4. For sustainable development, women must have access to maternal health care, including
prenatal and post-natal health care and emergency obstetric care. The most important step in
improving women?s reproductive health is increasing the number of skilled birth attendants, who
are trained in treating obstetric fistula, hemorrhaging, high blood pressure and infection, the
primary causes of maternal mortality. The UNFPA states that three-fourths of all maternal deaths
could be averted by the presence of skilled birth attendants.10 Furthermore, better infrastructure,
more hospitals and cleaner health care facilities will reduce maternal mortality.
Women and girls
5. Acknowledging the skewed ratio of births of male children to births of female children
and the preference for male children over females in some cultures, gender equality is an
essential component of sustainable development. The role of girls, who are at the center of social
and economic life in their communities, must be protected if a society is to achieve economic
growth and sustainable development.
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
6. Protection of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as affirmed in
Article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, is necessary to achieving sustainable
development. This right reflects that humans are born with dignity and conscience. It enables
individuals to move forward within their professional and community obligations while being
assured of protections for their beliefs and conscience.
7. In particular, given the importance of health care and maternal health care for women in
the attempt to develop a sustainable world, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and
religion is critical for health-care providers. It enables them to feel comfortable in providing care
for people within their communities and allows for increased participation in the provision of a
8. Furthermore, recognizing the centrality of education to a sustainable world, the right to
freedom of thought, conscience and religion must extend to educators. Contributions of people
of faith to the field of education have been of paramount importance, and these educators must
be guaranteed protection of their beliefs so that they can continue to care for and instruct the next
generations of global citizens.