All posts by swethastotrabhashyam

Three takeaways from the Global Youth Biodiversity Network’s Asia Capacity Building Workshop

By Mohammad Arju, Bangladesh

Hello people, who are reading this post, please be informed that on May 27 we’ve just wrapped up one of the most important events in Asia this year. I know, most of you never heard of it, but don’t be surprised; we know, relying on mainstream media as the only source of information has its own limitation- in many cases, the media fails to report on real important things.

So, please let me convince you about how the recently held Global Youth Biodiversity Network’s Asia Capacity Building Workshop will shape the future of Asia and the Ocean planet.

THE HOMEWORK

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One of my fellow participants at the workshop, Naseem Sultani from Afghanistan already written about it; the week-long workshop held in Singapore (with generous support from Singapore’s National Parks Board and Japan Biodiversity Fund) had a wide range of participants from the Central, South, Southeast, West and East Asia, and all of them are back to their home countries with a very specific homework. And the homework is not just about same-old-same-old romantic environmentalism about biodiversity; it is not about photogenic environmentalism of just holding another conference. The organizers were very clear about it, and this policy position was well reflected in all of the training sessions of the workshop (See the Schedule: PDF File).

The workshop was designed to train the youth leaders in real down-to-earth efforts for utilizing the already available multi-national process and mechanism (Convention on Biological Diversity, for example) on local, national and regional level to minimize the impact of market-economy on the diversity of life our planet hosts, and eventually help the governments in successful drafting and implementation of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) to achieve Aichi Biodiversity Goals.

With this homework, the trained participants are out, therefore, more learning and real work, in their respective countries.

Using ‘System Thinking’ approach, they’ve built a scenario of current status and identified best possible leveraged to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity in Asia as a youth group. They’ve conceptualized several programs for the coming years to establish ASEAN and South and Central Asian sub-regional networks, to build a knowledge network, and to run a grassroots conservation program through Participatory Action Research led by youth organizations and fellows. In the coming months; they will design, develop and start implementing the programs.

So, in a brief, with the goal to secure more diversity of life on the planet, this workshop just deployed a team of well-trained youth leaders in the field to take part in political and decision-making processes at local, national, regional and international levels. The team’s work will certainly help the national governments in Asia to bring sustainability in the development process, also achieve many targets of the Sustainable Development Goals in the process and reconnecting the people with nature.

THE STRENGTH

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In these times of growth-hungry economy devastating the people and the planet, being a conservationist means you are engaged in really down-to-earth activities to reverse the process. The Convention of Biological Diversity’s stated role is to ‘prevent and attack the causes of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity at source’, you know it. And it’s not easy, rather daunting, oftentimes exhaustive too. But this workshop was a forum where we met the people face to face who are building their lives around this daunting task, it was really comforting.

Even in places like Singapore, where the economic violence affected the social-ecological systems severely, things have started to change, we’ve met several groups of people who are working for reconnecting people with nature. Even within such an extremely modified landscape, as a result of orchestrated efforts by government authorities and citizen-science groups like Otter-Watch and NUS Toddycats, the Singapore River is now hosting at least two large families of the smooth-coated otter. We’re aware that, there is no final victory in conservation, there will not be, but this sort of conservation-optimism story once again shows us the way.

And, it’s not just that, you listen to others’ stories, experience, and observation or go visit successful conservation initiative, which in some ways, or in many ways may be reasons to you, inform you about how people around the continent is bringing positive change for the conservation of biodiversity. One of the most important parts, for me, at the workshop was, I’ve learned a lot while articulating mine to others. Also, can sense that other participants were also re-discovering themselves by explaining their experience and ideas to others.

So, it is about self-motivation, as one of my fellow participants, Xu Waiting from Singapore was saying during their group presentation; ‘It’s the self-motivation what keeps you running to achieve what you believe in.’

WE THE PEOPLE

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The most important aspect of the forum was, I should say, together, we can now think of ourselves as a people, the people for advancing conservation in Asia. By taking parts in a number of self-organizing tasks (System Thinking, Project Concept Developing for example), through the process of feedback and evaluation, we’ve already started to work collaboratively.

As a team, now we know about our internal resources, strength, expertise we can offer to each other; and we have already come up with concepts about how to get easier access to this team and keep collaborating.

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A conservationist and journalist based in Bangladesh, Md Kutub Uddin (Mohammad Arju) is a Trustee of Save Our Sea.

Email: arju@saveoursea.social

 

An Afghani take on the GYBN Asia workshop

By Naseem Sultani, Afghanistan

The GYBN Capacity Building Workshop for Asia – 2017 has been well objectively designed with a wide range of participation across the Central, South, Southeast, West and East Asia to address technical issues with the respective countries on implementation of NBSAPs. It brought in youth with various backgrounds to share and discuss their knowledge for improving implementation quality of NBSAPs for biodiversity protection of the respective country across the region.


The workshop provided me with an opportunity to get connected with other young people from all over the region in Asia. More importantly, now, I better understand the CBD role and its potential to support and protect the biodiversity of Afghanistan and the region through widening youth participation.

Moreover, the workshop enabled me to understand and explore new ways to enhance the country’s engagement with the CBD through improvement of networking within the GYBN community.


Particularly, the workshop improved my capacity to understand targets and strategies of Afghanistan’s NBSAP. It also facilitated discussions on how to engage with complex challenges and leverage more efficient solutions. We also discussed priority issues for the region and how to address it.

Additionally, I also enjoyed visiting the Commonwealth Secondary School where we were exposed to a wide range of environmental education program including student engagement for academic credit and also, we were inspired by a comprehensive methodology to keep kids close to the nature.

​As a result, this workshop has been a great networking opportunity for me and also improved my understanding of strategic actions, prioritization and youth participation across the region.

Here are some of my views on how we can strengthen these regional workshops:

• For sustainable approach, maintaining and following of such events is important to be considered.

• For more effective use of resources, more practical topics to address current needs of biodiversity conservation including working on a typical target of a NBSAP for designing, implementation, monitoring & evaluation of a project to be considered.

Madagascar’s biodiversity being plundered

The beautiful island located in the Indian Ocean is well known for its unique Biodiversity. Sadly, this unique biodiversity is facing a heart-breaking high rate of species trafficking. One such species facing serious threat is the Radiata Tortoise.

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Radiata Tortoise  Photo.Credit. Kyle Bedell

 

Radiata Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) locally known as Angonoka is the most common species in the specialized pet market of Bangkok, Thailand known as “Chatuchak”. Its trafficking story started in 1996 at Roissy Airport in France when Radiata Tortoises were found in a traveler’s luggage. The trafficking has been rampant and has continued since the late 90’s.

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Radiata tortoise in luggage ceased by authorities 

 

In 2015, fourteen tortoises were intercepted by the Hongkong police and later transferred to Perth for safety. In 2016, the trafficking is still an on-going issue in Madagascar. With the intervention of the State the Civil Society “Alliance Voahary Gasy”, their members raised their voice and acted on ground to drive the environmental justice concept. Their effort has been fruitful as many lawsuits have been placed on the “Species dealers”. According to midi-madagaskara, three people have been arrested for trafficking 227 tortoises and a sentence of 18 months has been served to the chief trafficker, Mrs. Hanrita.

While I applaud this work, according to WWF, around 5000 Turtles are illegally exported from Madagascar monthly. This only shows us how much more we need to do.

Thus, more action should be enforced as this is just one species of the several that get trafficked from Madagascar.

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By GYBN Member,

Rasoamanana Alexandra