In partnership with the Alexander Von Humboldt Institute in Colombia, GYBN has organised the first Youth Voices Regional Workshop in Bogotá, Colombia from May 2nd to May 5th.
The workshop gathered biodiversity champions from 11 Countries, and they decided to kick start a regional LAC node for GYBN – Latin America and the Caribbean Youth Biodiversity Network!
Keep tuned for more information on GYBN LAC!
GYBN Latin America and the Caribbean Workshop Outcomes
Mirna Ines Fernández
The Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region hosts many of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Its unique ecosystems, ranging from the coral reefs in the Caribbean to the frozen land in the Patagonia, includes the Amazon rainforest, the Andean mountains and the Pantanal wetlands, to name some.
Nevertheless, biodiversity in this region faces a lot of threats and anthropogenic pressures. Illegal deforestation is increasing, mining activities keep polluting air and freshwater sources at alarming rates and oil extraction plans start targeting protected areas and indigenous territories. In this complex scenario, it is crucial to involve youth organizations and committed young individuals in the design and implementation of biodiversity protection policies at the national levels, especially because most of our governments lack enough technical capacities and financial resources to fulfill their environmental related commitments like the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi targets.
To help reaching this goal, the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) dedicated a Regional Workshop to the LAC region, to work on the capacity building of biodiversity young leaders and the development of partnerships between like-minded youth organizations working already on biodiversity issues. The workshop took place at the Humboldt Institute in Bogotá, Colombia, and brought together 30 youth leaders from all over the LAC region.
The first part of the workshop focused on capacity building on the challenges and opportunities for the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the national levels, with invited experts from governments and civil society.
After this, the participants were encouraged to start a discussion aiming to define priority action areas that youth organizations as theirs could focus on to advance the biodiversity conservation in the LAC region. Based on these defined areas, working groups were established to start the project development part of the workshop.
The resulting projects cover a wide spectrum of topics and activities. One of these aims to develop workshops and digital campaigns raising awareness about sustainable production and use of natural resources. A second project, called “NBSAPing Youth”, focuses on the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), that each country had to design and implement according to their commitments with the CBD. Because these tend to use technical jargon and are usually not very accessible to civil society, the group decided to disseminate this information in a youth friendly language, targeting youth from schools and universities. There is another project targeting the same public to create awareness about pollution and the importance of recycling. A fourth project, called “Earth Senses”, aims to create an exchange platform for biodiversity awareness through senses. Lastly, there is a project which aims to share stories of indigenous peoples and local communities about their fight for biodiversity conservation in the LAC region with youth and decision makers worldwide.
Another core outcome from the GYBN LAC workshop is the organization of GYBN national chapters. GYBN Mexico, which started in 2016 at the CBD COP13, started to work on the analysis of the proposal for the Mexico Biodiversity Law, involving 105 youth from 14 provinces to present a common position paper to Mexican legislators. Inspired by this, youth leaders from Centro Urbes decided to establish GYBN Perú in order to enhance youth efforts to tackle biodiversity challenges at national and local levels. There is a similar interest from Paraguay, where the team from Organizacion Paraguaya de Conservacion y Desarrollo Sostenible has been working on replaying the workshop and getting in contact with their government’s CBD focal point and the technical group in charge of the Paraguay NBSAP. Also, the representatives from Engajamundo decided to advance their biodiversity work by translating to Portuguese and sharing the GYBN Guidebook to the CBD process, CBD in a Nutshell, with their network in Brazil.
This is a very first step towards the development of a regional youth network for Biodiversity protection in the LAC region. A lot more needs to be done, but the results of these days of discussion and the commitment that is possible to feel from the workshop participants is a sign that gives us enough optimism to keep working on youth engagement within the region.