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The sandwich approach: youth and experts prompt action beyond Rio+20 

Belo Horizonte/Brazil, 16 June 2012 - With the urgency of global action bigger than ever, new alliances between young municipal leaders and seasoned sustainability experts are needed to prompt strong action beyond Rio+20. This was one of the key messages at the ICLEI World Congress 2012 held 14-17 June 2012.

"Rio+20 should launch the world on a new trajectory. It must address the overriding issue which will determine the future of humanity: how to meet the needs and aspirations of a growing world population while remaining within the capacities and boundaries of our fragile planet.." said Martin Lees, Former Secretary General of the Club of Rome.

In the past 20 years since the first Rio summit was held, local governments have made considerable progress in moving towards a more sustainable path of development.

But despite improvements in areas such as soil degradation, water resources management and greenhouse gas reduction, Lees is convinced that there is still a long way to go. "We are still heading into a perfect storm of connected environmental, economic and social challenges. I hope that you will call for urgent action where action must be taken rapidly," he said

Hungry for action, the youth of today has continuously expressed discontent over the lack of political will demonstrated by current decision makers. It is their future that is at stake.

"What I fear is the incapability of the today's decision makers and the challenges we as the
younger generation have to deal with", remarked Simone Ariane Pflaum, Councilor of the City of Freiburg, Germany and one of ICLEI's FutureCityLeaders.

"Young people expect three things from local governments: to lead, to inspire other decision-makers, and to engage civil society and particularly the younger generation," said Sebastien Duyck, Board Member of Rio+twenties initiative.

Duyck explained that young people have an enormous capacity to support behavioral change. Local governments and seasoned sustainability experts could further develop this capacity and engage more actively with youth in the design and implementation of policies in their cities and communities.

"We need a 'sandwich approach', where seasoned sustainability experts and young municipal leaders squeeze current decision-makers to take rapid and radical action," said Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, ICLEI -Local Governments for Sustainability.

Younger people have ideas and ideals. Experts have the experiences. Bringing these two groups together in a 'sandwich' can pressure current leaders for action, sending a powerful message to all that sustainability is well within reach.

About ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability

ICLEI is the world's largest association of cities and local governments dedicated to sustainable development. ICLEI is a powerful movement of 12 mega-cities, 100 super-cities, 450 large cities and urban regions as well as 650 small and medium-sized cities and towns in 80 countries. ICLEI promotes local action for global sustainability and supports cities to become sustainable, resilient, resource-efficient, biodiverse, low-carbon; to build a smart infrastructure; and to develop an inclusive, green urban economy with the ultimate aim is to achieve healthy and happy communities.

For more information please contact...

Katrina Borromeo, ICLEI World Secretariat, on Tel +49 228 976299-00, email: 

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