Youth Intervention on “Synthetic Biology” in COP 12 CBD

Dispatches from Pyeongchang, S. Korea

Michelle Pazmiño & Kabir Arora

The following intervention was made on agenda item number 24 of draft decision text in Working group II dealing with “Synthetic Biology“.

Madam Chair, thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to share our position in regard to this item. We are speaking on behalf of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network.

We are representing future generations, and as so, we strongly urge parties to consider the precautionary principle when discussing this matter as we strongly feel that the risks and negative impacts imposed by synthetic biology are still unforeseeable and are not being taken fully into consideration. Scientific knowledge on the future implications of this issue is not yet mature, therefore synthetic biology is a new and emerging issue that has to be taken into account as highly relevant and influential to socio-economic and health issues.

Apart from robust unbiased scientific knowledge, it is essential to carefully analyze the economic and cultural impacts of this emerging issue before making any decision.  Continued here…


CBD COP12 Kicks Off

The sounds of the beating drums echoed loud in the heart of the Pyeongchang mountains in Korea on the 6th of October 2014, which marked the official opening of the Twelfth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP12) under the theme of “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development”.

Despite the loud beats of the drums from within the conference hall, the voice of the people of Pyeongchang rang loud as they stood outside the conference venue in protest of the Korean government’s decision. This decision is currently in process and will result in the wiping out a 500 year old forest that has been part of this region for centuries for a 3 day event, this comes as part of the development plans aligned with the preparations to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Ironically this comes at a time when biodiversity’s future is being held in a host country that is about to destroy a forest habitat to rare and endangered species.

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Inside the venue, the conference commenced with India handing over the COP Presidency to Korea as delegates from 196 countries gathered to discuss the future of biodiversity along with inter-governmental organisations, members from civil society in addition to many other representative groups such as youth, indigenous people and women.

The opening also witnessed the official launch of the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO4) report. The GBO4 is the publication of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and is a periodic report that summarizes the latest data on the status and trends of biodiversity along with drawing conclusions relevant to the further implementation of the Convention.

COP12 is expected to adopt a “Pyeongchang Roadmap” to enhance the implementation for the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the achievement of the Aichi biodiversity targets. Following the opening ceremony, countries began their two-week journey by giving in their country’s opening statement. GYBN also delivered its first intervention where it urged parties to overcome differences and national interests and to work together to achieve the Aichi Targets to halt the loss of biodiversity.

COP12 will be discussing the mid-term review of progress towards the goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, development of further tools and guidance where necessary in addition to the review of updated National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), biodiversity and sustainable development, resource mobilisation among other issues. The negotiations are now ready to begin with all geared up with what is expected to be a very hectic two weeks.

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GYBN’s members Reem Al Mealla (Bahrain) and MinJae (Korea) delivering the first intervention on behalf of youth at the opening ceremony


Amidst the mist and fog surrounding the ancient mountains of Pyeongchang in Korea, a beautiful youth movement has been getting ready to shine its light once again as it contributes towards protecting biodiversity for the coming generations. This youth movement comes under the family name of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN).

GYBN is an international network of youth organisations and individuals from all over the world whose common goal is to prevent the loss of biodiversity. As the official major group for youth in the negotiations under the CBD, GYBN aims to represent the voice of global youth in the negotiations under the United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). Moreover, it aims to raise awareness among young people of the values of biodiversity in addition to connecting individuals and youth organisations, in order to build a global coalition to halt the loss of biodiversity.

ahng - spirit of the korean tigers

GYBN’s Youth Delegation filled with the spirit of the Korean Tigers during their Preparatory Meeting the day before the official opening of COP12

The idea of creating an international youth network to link young people in preserving of biodiversity immersed in 2008, however it wasn’t until the Tenth Conference of Parties (COP10) in 2010 that youth came together to announce their interest in starting a Global Youth Biodiversity Network.

GYBN was officially established at a conference hosted by NAJU in Berlin, Germany, which brought together 36 youth representing various organisations from 22 countries in August 2012. One of the many valuable outcomes of this conference was a position paper for the CBD COP11, which was hosted in Hyderabad. Two years down the line, GYBN had established a strong presence especially following the Montreal talks, which took place last June 2014. Four months later, within the short time since its establishment, GYBN succeeded in bringing together a youth delegation consisting of a representative from every inhabited continent to the CBD COP12 negotiations for the first time.

On the first day, despite the cold temperatures in Pyeongchang, the youth meeting room radiated with warmth erupting from the team’s excitement as they commenced their preparatory meeting for COP12. The CBD framework and decision making process was discussed followed by an overview of the COP12 agenda items and working groups. The team was treated to inspiring and wise words on how can youth influence the CBD process from a group of amazing panelists including Ms. Christine Von Weissäcker, Ms. Malta Qwathekana – the South African delegate, Mr. Horst Korn – the SBSTTA German Focal Point and Ms. Chantal Robichaud – a member of the Secretariat.

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Right to left: Ms. Christine Von Weissäcker, Ms. Malta Qwathekana, Ms. Chantal Robichaud and Mr. Horst Korn

The team also worked on defining youth positions on various topics along with their strategy plan for COP12 that covers various aspects such as interventions, campaigns, side events, press conferences and much more. After a long day of team building and educational sessions along with discussions around members personal goals and GYBN goals during COP12, and ways to achieve them; the generous Korean Council for Biological Diversity (KCBD) treated the team to a delicious Korean traditional style dinner. As the night took over and temperatures dropped lower, the team’s excitement soared as they looked forward to all that is to be experienced and gained in the next two weeks.

GYBN Youth Preparatory Meeting for CBD COP-12

Yesterday, 30 youth delegates from 16 countries attended GYBN’s Youth Preparatory Meeting in Pyeongchang, South Korea.   We had educational sessions about the CBD Framework and decision making process, an overview of COP-12 agenda items, a presentation by Christine Von Weissacker about how to influence the CBD process, a panel discussion by Chantal Robichaud, Horst Korn, and Malta Qwathekana, and a team building session where we discussed our personal goals and goals for GYBN during COP-12 and how we would achieve them.

Photo of GYBN Delegation and Panel Presenters

GYBN with Panel The delegation is in the opening plenary now – look for most current information on our Twitter @GYBN_CBD and Facebook page, and for another website update soon!

Call for Applications – Youth at CBD COP-12

In partnership with the Korean Council for Biological Diversity – KCBD, GYBN has applied for funding to support youth participation at COP12: GLOBAL YOUTH @COP12/PYEONGCHANG

We  are planning to select and organize an international youth delegation to join COP12 in Pyeongchang, South Korea from October 2 to October 19 2014 in order to form a group of change agents for biodiversity conservation.

The primary goals of this project is to provide young people from a wide variety of backgrounds that are working on Biodiversity issues and that are between 18 and 30 years old with an opportunity to speak up for their generation at COP12. By enabling them to play an active role in the CBD-process, we are aiming to build capacity among young people so that they can contribute to the implementation of the Convention and the achievement of the Aichi Targets. Knowledge and experience gained through this opportunity can then be brought back to their countries, communities and organizations. Candidates must demonstrate outstanding commitment to Biodiversity issues in the past and must possess at least a basic understanding of international negotiations. Before COP12, all participants of the international youth delegation will take part in a preparatory meeting in Pyeongchang where they will have the chance to network with other youth delegates, share information and experiences, improve their campaigning and lobbying skills as well as their knowledge regarding Biodiversity issues and the CBD-process with a particular focus on the procedures and issues at COP12.

Funding has not been confirmed yet but we are in an advanced stage of the fundraising process. Due to the proximity to COP12, we have decided to start the pre-selection of candidates prior to funding confirmation in order to ensure greater efficiency and maximize youth participation at COP12.


1.) We would like to emphasize that we did NOT receive ANY funding yet. Please also note that we do NOT know when and how much funding will be available. It is possible that we will receive no or only very little funding. Our priority is to raise funding for as many youth delegates as possible to attend the COP (to cover travel, accommodation costs etc.). However, if funding should be very limited it is possible that we can only provide partial support for delegates.

2.) The exact duration of the conference, the number of participants as well as the number of scholarships for COP12-participation are subject to the availability of funding.

3.) Since we do not know how many youth delegates can be funded, all applications will be reviewed by the jury and applicants will then be ranked according to the score they achieved. All successful applicants will be put on a waiting list and funding will be distributed according to their position in the ranking. Final confirmations will be sent to all applicants as soon as we have received funding.



Dates: October 2nd to October 19th 2014
Venue: Pyeongchang, South Korea

Application form (fill it out online) here:
Deadline for applications: August 15th 2014 at 23:59 UTC

Documents required:
– Digital copy of CV
– Digital copy of Passport

Send a pdf copy of your CV and the identification page of your passport to:
obs: the title of your document should be LASTNAME_FIRSTNAME_CV.pdf and LASTNAME_FIRSTNAME_PASSPORT.pdf

Note: Applications received after this date will not be considered. Applications must be submitted in English, applications submitted in another language will not be considered.


We are fully committed to conduct the selection process as fair and transparent as possible.  We aim to have:

1. Equal representation of all world regions: Africa, Asia, North America, Latin America/ Caribbean, Europe and Oceania ensuring:

  • Balance between Global South and Global North
  • Gender Balance
  • Representatives of Indigenous Youth and other marginalized groups

2. Age: 18-30 years old as of 1st/Oct/2014
3. Availability to attend both the Preparatory & Strategy Meeting and COP12 from October 2 to October 19 2014. – mandatory
4. Command of English language
5. The applicants’ commitment and previous work on Biodiversity issues (most important criterion!)
6. The applicants’ level of experience and expertise
7. Membership with GYBN (as of 1 July 2014) – not mandatory but a big asset
8. Membership of the applicants’ organization with GYBN (as of 1 July 2014) – not mandatory but an additional asset
9. Previous commitment to GYBN  – not mandatory but a big asset

All members of the KCBD-GYBN Task Force are FULLY committed to do their utmost to bring as many youth delegates as possible to Pyeongchang. We will do whatever we can to convince potential donors to grant their support to this project.
Please also note that all of us in the KCBD-GYBN Task Force are volunteers and are doing this whole project in our freetime on top of other commitments like our studies or work. We do this because we strongly believe that young people should have a voice at COP12. We hope for your understanding!

Finger’s crossed that we’ll get sufficient funding to give many youth delegates the chance to speak up for their generation at COP12!

Good luck to all applicants!

The GYBN Steering Committee and the members of the KCBD-GYBN Task Force

Message of the Executive Secretary to the Convention on Biological Diversity on the Occasion of Wangari Maathai Day

Mr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias’ message on Wangari Maathai Day (March 3rd, 2014) was titled “Youth – Healing the Earth: Environment. Education. Empowerment”. In it, he encourages young people to join GYBN! Check out the statement below.

“The Secretariat proudly supports the inclusion of youth and invites youth to join the Global Youth Biodiversity Network, a platform where youth can join forces to contribute to the achievement of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, and realization of the goals of the United Nations Decade Biodiversity.”

CBD Statement on Wangari Maathai Day



Youth platform for participation at the Convention on Biological Diversity