34 young leaders in the field of conservation, aged 18-25 years old, from 25 countries were chosen from a pool of over 1000 applicants to participate in the inaugural Youth Forum for People and Wildlife organized by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and its partners.
Although diverse in culture, experiences and skills, what connected them was a demonstrated commitment to wildlife, conservation, and the environment.
Through interactive workshops, field visits and lively debates, the 34 Youth Delegates discussed issues and solutions related to wildlife conservation, animal welfare and trade in endangered species. Joining them were 1300+ virtual participants from around the world tuning in online.
Taking place a week before the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (also known as CITES CoP17), in Johannesburg, South Africa, South Africa, the forum was the perfect opportunity to cultivate youth engagement with CITES parties and representatives.
Young people under 30 represent >50% of the world's population, and often live in areas where the environment, wildlife and humanity face an ever-growing number of threats. Therefore, we believe that there is a pressing need to have these young people more engaged in the decisions that affect global issues.
The inspirational experience of the inaugural Youth Forum for People and Wildlife became a catalyst for the formation of Youth for Wildlife Conservation (Y4WC). Y4WC, set up by the delegates of the youth forum itself, supports a strong and international network of well-prepared young conservationists, and aims to equip them with the right training, support and tools necessary to become better leaders. By investing in young change makers, Y4WC and its supporters help them find innovative solutions to the conservation challenges in their regions, and encourages youth engagement with policymakers and institutions at an international level.