Greetings from CBD13 in Cancun, Mexico
It is hard to believe it has been three months since we all said goodbye to one other and departed from South Africa, equipped with a new sense of unity and drive for wildlife conservation. It has been a challenge setting up the legacy of the youth forum, Y4WC, with us all going our separate ways.
But for some of us we didn’t have to wait that long to see each other again. Last month, four of us (Thuto, Swetha, Cecile and I, Josephine) were able to meet again at Cancun’s United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) CoP13. The CBD is a multilateral treaty whose objective is to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and we were there to learn how young conservationists can be more involved in global negotiations that affect us all.
Y4WC is one of many networks and organizations that embody the global youth movement. With people under 30 years old representing more than half of the world’s population, we are not alone in thinking that it is about time young people are more engaged in global decision-making processes. Our time in Mexico was a unique opportunity to gain insight into the CBD, learn from other youth organizations, such as the Global Youth Biodiversity Network, and connect with CITES professionals.
Although there was no time for surfing, we still felt like we were making waves as we joined IFAW Education Director Nancy Barr at a CBD side event on 'Effective Partnerships for Youth engagement in Biodiversity Conservation'.
We spoke about the successes of the forum, how the workshops we attended and skills we gained are crucial in bettering our wildlife conservation work in our local communities and what the next steps are for the Y4WC team. But our key message, one we celebrated during the youth forum and what Y4WC is all about is, was the importance of diversity within the youth conservation movement. Despite our different cultural backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, we are all working towards the same goal of conserving wildlife.
We have found that to be true also at the CBD and it is in this spirit that we are moving forward with our new youth network and exploring opportunities to establish youth empowerment in wildlife conservation and within CITES.
Attending the CBD was an invaluable opportunity for our team to reconnect and to make new face-to-face connections with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. With this great end to 2016, Y4WC are ready and well prepared for the challenges we will face and the triumphs of 2017!