The Elders

Fernando Henrique CardosoDear friends,

I write to you at the end of a very busy few weeks for The Elders.

In June I welcomed my fellow Elders Mary Robinson and Gro Harlem Brundtland to Brazil, where together we called for bold action at Rio+20, the UN summit on sustainable development.

It was a valuable opportunity for us to make the most of our ‘Elder’ status and remind world leaders of their responsibility to make wise decisions today in the interests of future generations.

Empowering the younger generation

We were joined in Rio by the four ‘Youngers’ with whom we had spent several weeks debating the issues that affect us all – from balancing people, profit and environment, to whether these global summits are really effective at achieving change.

While we were disappointed with the outcome of the Rio+20 conference, Esther, Marvin, Sara and Pedro showed us exactly why we must empower the generation who will inherit this planet: they have a fresh perspective, creative ideas, long-term vision, and the energy to keep pushing for change.

The thousands of young people who travelled to Rio+20 were one of the conference’s clear positives. They are determined to make a difference, and are compelled by a real feeling of urgency – and this is exactly what is needed.

“We cannot keep thinking or operating the way we did 40, 20 or even 10 years ago… we don't have time for vague rhetoric anymore.”

Elders+Youngers in Rio

Rio+20 didn't go far enough – what now? Join the final Elders+Youngers debate!

PHOTOS | Bringing intergenerational dialogue to Rio+20

Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Pedro Telles

“This is a ‘once in a generation’ moment when the world needs vision, commitment and above all, leadership. Sadly, the current document is a failure of leadership.”

VIDEO | The Elders+Youngers answer your questions on sustainable development direct from Rio

PRESS RELEASE | Rio+20 is not the response we need to safeguard people and the planet


Celebrating five years of The Elders

We have also just celebrated five years since Nelson Mandela brought The Elders together for the first time in Johannesburg, marking the anniversary with a lively public debate at the Barbican Centre in London.

This milestone coincides with Mandela Day, a day when we honour our founder’s legacy by giving our time in the service of others. Mary Robinson, Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Tutu visited several charities in London that work with young people, hearing about the challenges they face, and what they are doing together to help themselves and others.

I know that many of you joined this global day of action, dedicating your time and energy to help others in the spirit of Mandela Day. I hope you will share your experiences with us and with other members of our ‘global village’ on our Facebook page.

The Elders with the UK Foreign Secretary The Elders with Jon Snow

PHOTOS | Five years of working together for peace and human rights: The Elders in London

VIDEO | Celebrating five years of The Elders: public debate at the Barbican Centre in London

Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu with a young person from XLP The Elders reunited with Nelson Mandela

PHOTOS | Inspiring positive action for Mandela Day 2012

VIDEO | Give 67 minutes to change the world on Mandela Day 2012


South Sudan: the path to peace and prosperity

After the events in London, Archbishop Tutu led a delegation of Elders to South Sudan – the world’s newest country – which celebrated its first anniversary of independence on 9 July but faces many challenges, not least the tense relations with its neighbour, Sudan.

This was the second part of a two-phase visit to the region, following Jimmy Carter and Lakhdar Brahimi’s visit to Khartoum in May, aiming to encourage the leaders of both countries to return to the negotiating table.

Desmond Tutu with clergy in South Sudan

“While outsiders such as the AU and the UN can help, what is crucial is for the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan to talk directly and build mutual trust; the task cannot be left to anybody else.”

PHOTOS | Encouraging the path of peace for Sudan and South Sudan

BLOG | South Sudan's peace dividends: the short and long term goals | Martti Ahtisaari


“We are already witnessing an unbearable catastrophe with the fighting in Blue Nile and South Kordofan in Sudan, and the ensuing outpouring of refugees into South Sudan and Ethiopia.”

Mary Robinson with a young women in Yusuf Batil refugee camp

BLOG | End the suffering in the Sudans | Desmond Tutu

PHOTOS | Finding resilience in a fragile place: the Elders visit Yusuf Batil refugee camp


Ultimately, it is only the leaders who can resolve their disagreements, and they have the responsibility to do so – the welfare of all of their people depends on it. As Elders, we will continue to support peace-building efforts in any way we can.


Best wishes,

Fernando Henrique Cardoso

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