The idea of establishing an international youth network to link young people interested in preserving biodiversity has existed since at least 2008, and was raised by numerous youth at various events and through many organizations. In October 2010, many of these youth came together at the 10th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to officially announce their interest in starting the Global Youth Biodiversity Network.
2008 – Biodiversity on the Edge
The idea of creating a platform for youth participation at the UNCBD was a matter of discussion amongst the participants of the Biodiversity on the Edge international youth conference which took place in Bonn, Germany from May 13th to 19th, 2008. It brought together 60 participants from 25 countries. Representatives presented a youth declaration during the opening ceremony of the 2008 UN Biodiversity Summit, calling upon the 6400 delegates and ministers at COP9 to bring nature and ecosystems back into balance and to include biodiversity issues in the curricula of all schools. It was one of the first times young people were given the floor during a UNCBD COP. The conference was organized by NAJU.
2009 – The 2nd International Youth Symposium on Biodiversity
The 2nd International Youth Symposium on Biodiversity was held in Ottawa, Canada from July 5th to 9th, 2009. The aim of this conference was to bring youth from around the world together to create the Youth Accord on Biodiversity, to be presented at the 10th Conference of the Parties of the UNCBD as well as provide a platform to celebrate youth initiatives on biodiversity. It was attended by 100 youth from 10 countries. The Accord was later translated into 25 languages and received over 5000 signatures from 83 countries. Guided by the vision “that biodiversity will be protected to sustain global ecosystems and life on our planet, now, and in the future”, the Global Youth Accord is a youth action plan on biodiversity and calls for the inclusion of youth in international decision making processes. The conference was jointly organized by the Canadian youth NGOs BiodiversityMatters and Protect Our Water and Environmental Resources (POWER).
2009 – Asian Youth Conference on Biodiversity
The theme of this conference was “Maintenance of Biodiversity in the Asian region and its sustainable use”. The conference took place in Nagoya, Japan from August 2nd to 6th, 2009. 79 participants from thirteen Asian countries came together to network and discuss biodiversity. They developed a youth action plan and youth statement, as well as a plan for the establishment of an Asian Youth Network on Biodiversity. The conference was organized by the Japanese Ministry for the Environment.
2010 – European Youth Perspective Conference on Biodiversity
From July 1st to 6th, YouPEC 2010 gathered 130 young people from 36 European countries in Olen, Belgium to discuss and learn about biodiversity. At the end of the conference, participants adopted a youth declaration, urging the European Union and its member states to significantly increase their efforts and resources to protect biological diversity and to show strong leadership on both the European and the international level. As part of an action in front of the European Commission in Brussels, this declaration was handed over to Janez Potocnik, the European Commissioner for the Environment who promised to take the concerns of young people into consideration. The conference was organized by Jeugbond voor Natuur en Milieu (JNM).
2010 – International Youth Conference on Biodiversity
The goal of this conference was the adoption of a Youth Statement as well as a Youth Action plan, building upon the outcomes of the Asian Youth Conference held the year before. 100 participants from 62 countries attended the conference held in Nagoya, Japan. A working group held at the conference developed a rough concept for the Global Youth Biodiversity Network under the tentative name “Global Youth Biodiversity Organization”. * The conference was held by the Japanese Ministry of Environment.
2010 – UNCBD COP-10
The tenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP10) took place in Nagoya, Japan, from October 18th to 29th. With 18,650 participants, COP10 was the largest Biodiversity conference in the history of the United Nations.
In preparation for this meeting several youth who had attended the various conferences above met online to plan how they would make this idea for a youth platform for participation at the UNCBD a reality. These discussions cumulated in a youth-held side event at COP-10 where the idea was unveiled.
Establishment of GYBN
To coordinate the establishment process of GYBN and to liaise with the CBD Secretariat an Interim Steering Committee, composed of 16 members from thirteen countries, (Japan, Indonesia, India, Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Benin, Cameroon, Egypt and Uganda) was formed immediately after the end of COP10.
With the explicit support of then CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf and in close coordination with the CBD Secretariat’s NGO Focal Points, the Interim Steering Committee worked together from November 2010 to prepare the establishment of a democratic, all-inclusive, transparent and globally representative youth network on Biodiversity.
Thanks to generous financial support from the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) all these efforts eventually led to the official establishment of GYBN at an international Kick-Off conference hosted by NAJU in Berlin, Germany from August 21st to 27th 2012. Thirty-five youth from thirteen countries attended the conference where they first learned about biodiversity issues through workshops and networked with each other. The final days of the conference were used to create a statute, mission, and vision for GYBN, and to create a position paper for the upcoming CBD COP-11.
*Following a recommendation by the CBD Secretariat on the legal implications of establishing an international organization, the interim steering committee later decided to change the name into “Global Youth for Biodiversity Network (GYBN)”.