African Youth Unite for Biodiversity! – Vusi Tshabalala
Since 1993, governments, policymakers, and expert organizations have negotiated strategic global agreements for the sustainable and equitable use of biodiversity, aiming to mitigate species loss and safeguard ecosystems. However, it was only at the 10th Conference of Parties to the Convention for Biological Diversity held in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan that youth took a seat at the table thanks to the formation of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network.
Young people need a role in conservation
As the officially recognized group for youth in the negotiations under the convention, the Global Youth Biodiversity Network is instrumental in sensitizing decision-makers on the value of youth-led activities for conservation. As of August 2018, the Global Youth Biodiversity Network represents 115 member organizations, a total of 342,000 members from 107 countries worldwide.
Two years ago South Africa hosted the Global Youth Biodiversity Network conference which was officially opened and lead by the late Minister Dr Edna Molewa for African countries, where 13 countries manage to send their young leaders to come and engage in the issues of biodiversity.
For many it was the first time to engage on policies and discuss their countries National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan (NBSAP), Aichi targets, What is the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Conference of Parties (COP), Strategic Development Goal (SDGs) and many more. This was new territory for the young leaders in conservation, but very important therefore they committed to their own understanding of the content. Capacity building workshops are a critical tenet of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network’s mandate to increase general awareness and mobilize youth voices for conservation and sustainable development. After the 2016 conference the young people joined the Global Network and established national chapters in Madagascar, Morocco, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe. There is also an African sub regional committee that has been formed where all these countries can meet to share ideas and projects.
Ahead of the 14th Conference of Parties to the Convention in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt this year, 50 young Africans from 17 countries attended an intensive five-day workshop from the 28thof October – 3rdof November 2018 hosted by African Wildlife Foundationin Nairobi, Kenya. Apart from the Global Youth Biodiversity Network’s steering committee and country chapters, the Kruger 2 Canyons Biosphere was also represented by one of its own young leaders: Vusi Tshabalala.