Children and Youth Concerns are about Sustainability: An interview with Kiara Worth

Kiara WorthKiara Worth is one of the Organising Partners for the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY). The MGCY is the official youth constituency for sustainable development negotiations, including the Rio+20 Earth Summit. Her role as Organising Partner involves facilitation and advancement of the participation of young people within these processes, including policy amendments and youth activism. In the past, she has engaged with thousands of youth across the globe fostering dialogue, collaboration, participation and unity and diversity amongst young people, and mobilising them to act. She also works as an independent consultant for sustainable development, focusing on rural resource management and communications. She applies alternative forms of social development that use the creative arts and theatre as a means of enabling social transformation. Her publications, dramatic performances and community theatre have focused on environmental integrity and sustainable living. Her work has been featured at numerous panel events at the UNCSD and related events.

How has the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) framework enhanced the voices of children and youth globally since its inception in 2000?

The MDG framework has helped to raise a number of key concerns and issues affecting children and youth globally, and has attempted to enhance their voice to overcome these challenges. Increasingly, youth are recognised as key participants in decision-making and development, yet capacity building of and creating sustained partnerships with young people in achieving the MDGs have yet to be realised.

Youth have been involved directly in the MDGs and have had a variety of platforms to promote their participation. While this has been extremely positive, there is continuous need for successful models of youth participation to be adapted and replicated to specific political and socio-economic realities, taking into consideration the challenges facing youth-led and youth-serving organisations. More support needs to be given to children and youth organisations to further enhance their real participation, and the MGCY is hopeful that the post-2015 agenda will do this.

While much remains to be achieved, the MDGs have set in motion a good platform for changing the imbalances in society and while we have identified numerous challenges to this process along the way, it is inherently pointed in the right direction. In this regard, the voice of children and youth are being more readily heard, and thus there is a greater opportunity for them to engage.

What issues concerning children and youth globally are lacking from this previous framework and need to be prioritised in the Post-2015 Agenda?

The MGCY strongly believes that the environment needs to be prioritised in the post-2015 Agenda. In this regard, there are two main points the MGCY is advocating for:

  • Ensuring a clean, healthy, sustainable and adequate environment needs to be its own goal, with a set target that all nations should strive towards achieving
  • The environment cannot be separated as a separate goal, and needs to be mainstreamed into all other goals being set

In addition to this, there are three priority areas of the MGCY, with a strong focus on the impact these areas have on children and youth:

  1. Human development, security and poverty eradication for all people
  2. Governance, participation and access to justice
  3. Natural resource use and cross-sectoral development areas

What activities are currently being conducted by the UN CSD Major Group for Children and Youth as an engagement to the Post-2015 outcomes?

The MGCY is proactively engaged in the Post-2015 agenda and it has become a priority for our work. We have established a working group on post-Rio+20, Sustainable Development Goals, MDGs and post-2015.

To date, we have contributed to the UN General Assembly's formation of the Open Working Group (OWG) focusing on the design of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection. Through our networks we have been able to develop a youth perspective for developing modalities and core focus areas for the SDGs.

The MGCY strongly believes that the SDG and post-MDG framework need to be intrinsically linked and we have started efforts to bridge this separation. We have participated in various surveys and on-line platforms to share the youth perspective in this regard, attended key meetings to ensure the representation of youth is maintained and are planning a variety of capacity building workshops to better advance the skills and abilities of youth globally. We are also currently looking at forming partnerships with various institutions to help coordinate, consolidate and disseminate information for the post-2015 agenda and are hoping to have positive results of this soon. Furthermore, we are encouraging youth at a local level to get involved with any activities, so as to help the global voice to reflect local needs, and to help local voices raise their ideas and concerns globally.

How are these activities complementary to the UN CSD Major Group for Children and Youth's role at the Rio+20 last year?

The activities stemming from Rio+20 and now the post-2015 Agenda are intrinsically linked. We remain committed to advocating for a number of the same key points and we are using the visible and invisible outcomes of Rio+20 to further promote the youth voice in sustainability discussions. Rio+20 significantly discussed the establishment of Sustainable Development Goals, and the MGCY believes that these need to be strongly linked with post-2015, so there is a lot integration between these major events that needs to occur. The activities also remain the same in their objective – to advance the participation of children and youth globally, so in this regard we will continue to promote capacity building and skills development at all levels. The MGCY believes that they have a strong role to play in the post-2015 discussion, and building on from the momentum gained at Rio+20 with youth internationally, the post-MDGs now offer an important arena for youth to engage in.

How are individuals and organizations of children and youth groups being engaged by the Post-2015 agenda?

From the MGCY perspective, children and youth are reached through our own networks and social media sites to increase their participation. All young people are welcome to join our working group for the post-2015 agenda where they will be able to gain more information about the activities they can be involved in. There are also a variety of websites, social media platforms, and institutions promoting the work of children and youth and we encourage everyone to get involved as much as they can. For more information on the MGCY's work, please visit