2nd African Youth Summit on Biodiversity : Empowering young voices for a greater impact on Biodiversity preservation

From September 19 to 21, 2023, the second edition of the African Youth Biodiversity Summit (AYSB2023) took place in Rabat, Morocco, featuring an engaging and enthusiastic gathering aiming to strengthen the capacity of young African leaders on biodiversity matters.

The Summit, organized by the Global Youth Biodiversity Network – Africa (GYBN Africa), in partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), the Moroccan Youth Biodiversity Network, the Moroccan Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development and the Post2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU Support project implemented by Expertise France, set the scene for involving once again young people after the recent KMGBF adoption, recalling the importance of a whole-of-society engagement, as anchored in its Target 22. The goal: nothing less than creating a sustainable impact for the future of biodiversity across the continent.

Bringing together more than 200 participants from across the continent, including youths, experts, representatives of civil society and national and regional institutions, this summit theme “From Awareness to Action: Empowering African Youth for Biodiversity Conservation” aimed at empowering and engaging African young people in the implementation of tangible projects to preserve nature and reverse biodiversity loss. 

Following on the participation of key African youth to the GEF General Assembly in Vancouver just a few days before the Summit, the AYSB-2023 was highly anticipated for creating place for dialogue and being a platform for exchange on the involvement of African youth in the achievement of the KMGBF and more generally in the preservation of African ecosystems. It was a very timely event, as coinciding with NYC Climate Week, the UNGA78 High Level Event and the Nature Positive Hub, all of which illustrated the urgent need to take action to reverse against biodiversity loss and address the global climate crisis for Africa. 

During the plenary sessions and discussion platforms, scientists and biodiversity experts from a variety of institutions underlined from Africa and beyond underlined the importance of taking action to preserve the planet, and all agreed on the relevance of people-centered solutions requiring number of key factors to ensure a successful equation: technical and financial resources, political commitment, confidence in young people and common action. 

With the Summit underway, Mr. Kaddu Sebunya, the CEO of Africa Wildlife Foundation shared his insights on the importance of African youth’s role to achieve the 2050 Goals of the Convention for Biological Diversity. 

Mr. Levis Kavagi shared his vision as a UNEP Ecosystems & Biodiversity Programme expert. It was an inspiring statement illustrating the importance for youth to unite to make decisions for their generation & for the planet.

Mr. Martin Fortes, from Expertise France pointed out the need to give young African people the means to be proactive in shaping their future and preserving biodiversity and Ms. Matilde Ceravolo, representative of the EU Delegation in Morocco praised African youth’s engagement for the planet & expressed EU’s support in this sense.

During the second Discussion Session Mr. Innocent Maloba expressed WWF’s strong commitment to support African youth’s efforts to actively contribute to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. 

Later, with the plenary session “Unlocking Finance for the GBF and youth led action”, Mr. Timothée Ourbak shared AFD’s vision of supporting African youth. 

On the second  day of the AYSB  our project is organizing a side event. This session “Business development : key skills to develop & submit a successful project proposals” was moderated by the Post 2020 team, aware of the importance for African youth to tailor project ideas. 

During the third and  final day of the AYSB, the plenary session “Tackling the twin crisis of biodiversity loss and Climate Change” featured new experts & panelists…  Mr. David Obura, Chair at IPBES shared his insights. 

After a Call for Proposal process, ten projects of concrete African-Youth-led initiatives have been selected. Three of them were short-listed by the jury to pitch their innovative ideas on stage during the Summit. All the performances were remarkable demonstrating that African youth is full of innovative and fresh ideas to preserve nature and protect our ecosystems. The ten projects have been combined into a single catalogue, which will provide a roadmap for the realization of the KMGBF and, more generally, the objectives of the African Union Agenda 2063. 

The first prize however, went to Folepe Azemo Esther Arnaude from Academie d’Art Oratoire of Cameroon. 

I am so happy to have won the first prize from African youth biodiversity conservation. This prize is not only an achievement for the organization I represent, but also the beginning of our long journey in participating in the conservation and protection of our dear planet. Climate change concerns us all and we should all act together to see meaningful change.” said Esther when receiving her prize. 

Folepe Esther’s award consists in a fundraising tour in Europe, funded by Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework-EU support, that will allow her to present her project proposal to potential donors and bring her innovative idea to life. 

By giving young people the opportunity to voice their concerns, and fostering collaboration between enthusiastic minds, this summit holds the promise of becoming a tangible driver of transformative change.

Reflecting on the three-day hybrid second African Youth Summit on Biodiversity that concluded yesterday, I am inspired by the dedication and passion of the youth who came together to champion our planet’s precious ecosystems. Their commitment to biodiversity conservation reminds us that the future lies in our hands. We call on society to nurture our ideas, empower our actions, and pave the way for a sustainable Africa,” shared Prisca Daka, GYBN Africa regional co-coordinator.  

It was a Youth Summit where youth rhymed with enthusiasm: optimism and joy were the order of the 3-days, highlighting the boundless energy that these young Africans have, ready to deploy when it comes to shaping their future and preserving their home planet. 

« I am very proud to have been involved in organizing the second edition of the African Youth Summit on Biodiversity. The young people of Africa inspired me with their motivation, energy and commitment to building a sustainable future for the continent. With innovative and constructive ideas, they placed biodiversity conservation at the core of their priorities and called for the active participation of the whole society to achieve ambitious goals for the planet. », confided Natalia Mendes Correa, Project Officer, Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU Support 

During the AYSB2023 closing Session, Mr. Nicolas Chenet,Director of the Sustainable Development Department of Expertise France expressed his enthusiasm at the commitment of Africa’s Youth to biodiversity & hailed their interest in international decision-making. 

Moreover throughout the event, representatives of the Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development of Morocco, the host country of this year’s Summit, attended the presentations and encouraged young people from Morocco, from Africa & from all over the world.

Joviality and fun, mingled with commitment and fervor, culminated in a final, engaging declaration, which the young people intend to use at SBSTTA-25, October 15th to 19th in Nairobi (particularly during the GYBN Side Event on October 17th at 18:15 CET) to further strengthen the youth leadership and participation on the regional biodiversity governance. 


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