Looking Forward to Rio+20

Now on my fourth week of summer, the summer job hunt has still not yielded any fruit despite the fact that I am on the constant lookout. It is increasingly looking like I will have to find some other ways to make my summer productive. Writing is definitely one way I can do that, and seeing as I haven’t written any blog posts since I got back, I’d say I’m doing a very poor job (I haven’t found anything blog-worthy to write, then again, I’m not sure what exactly I write about). But one thing that will make my summer uni que is my trip to Rio de Janeiro.

A couple months ago, while I was still in school, I received a mysterious e-mail. It was an invitation to an exclusive online group facilitated by the international engineering firm Siemens®. This group is called the Future Influencers and basically, it’s a global think tank where members discuss and come up with solutions to global issues. This year’s issues were based on sustainable urban development (something that I am of course, interested in). Apparently members can only join if invited by another member, or by Siemens, which makes me wonder how in the world I got invited to such an exclusive group. Anyway, the really interesting thing was by the end of four weeks, the three members that contributed the most would be sent to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (affectionately called Rio+20 as the Conference took place in Rio de Janeiro 20 years ago and has returned), all expenses paid, in order to share the top solution developed among the Future Influencers within in a debate with Universities from all over the world.

That last point got me really excited, and since at the time I had no plans for the summer (and unfortunately, I still don’t) I decided to go for it, and really put my energy into discussing the issues and coming up with ideas. I have to say it was a pretty fun experience, conversing with people from all over the world about issues that interest me despite the fact that finals season was approaching quickly. Although there were some University Students, it seemed like I was certainly in the minority, being only a freshman amongst 20 to 30 year olds who have already well-established careers. But nevertheless, I went for it, and eventually it paid off.

I will be heading to Rio+20 on the night of June 13th in order to participate in the debate along with two fellow Future Influencers – Kali Taylor and Rashiq Fataar – who I am incredibly grateful to work with. I’ll be in Rio for around four days and while I haven’t received our schedule of activities, I’m sure it will be a blast. I’ve never been to Brazil, let alone anywhere in Central or South America, so this will certainly be an experience. While I am admittedly nervous about being placed so far out of my comfort zone, I know that this experience can only be a positive one. After all, you learn the most about yourself by putting yourself in environments you aren’t used to. Time permitting, I will write blog posts each night describing the events that I participated in while they are still fresh in my mind. I’m excited to have the opportunity to attend Rio+20 and be surrounded by so many world-changers and visionaries. While there are some criticisms about whether or not this UN Conference will have any positive impact on the world and spur change (international events such as these are often criticized for just being PR stunts), I’m sure it will be inspirational and informational for a young mind like me.

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One thought on “Looking Forward to Rio+20

  1. I’m really glad I came across your post Ethan :). On a Sunday night just fooling around on Twitter then I see something worth reading ;). You were invited to the community becaue of your interest in sustainability topics and because you are active in social media, which made it easy for you to collaborate with 2 people you had never met, each being located in another country.
    I have to say I am proud of havingnyou on board and I am sure you are gonna be just as successful as all the “older” generation of the Future Influencers. Everyone is impressed by you.
    You enjoy Rio to the max and as of a week ago I already have my fingers crossed for u ;).
    Sarah Hashish

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