From Raising Awareness to Taking Action: Empowering African Youth to Conserve Biodiversity

Amid the recent adoption of the KMGBF, the spotlight is now on the 2023 African Youth Summit on Biodiversity.
Youths hailing from various corners of the African continent are gearing up to gather in Rabat, Morocco, from September 19 to 21 for the 2nd African Youth Summit on Biodiversity (AYSB).

Youths hailing from various corners of the African continent gave gathered in Rabat, Morocco, from September 19 to 21 for the 2nd African Youth Summit on Biodiversity.

Building on the theme of this year’s International Biodiversity Day, ” From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity”, the Summit’s call to action emphasized the need to move beyond biodiversity conservation and placing the spotlight on concrete, meaningful actions to sustainably safeguard and manage Africa’s biodiversity.

As organizer of the event, the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) in Africa pointed out that awareness alone is not enough and  emphasises the pivotal mission of empowering young Africans as agents of change and key players in achieving positive conservation outcomes.

This sheds light on the paramount importance of considering youth and its untapped potential to make a difference in biodiversity conservation. By engaging and empowering the African youth, the Summit aims to channel their creativity and innovation into tangible actions that contribute to conservation efforts across the continent.

Inspiring African youth to contribute to reversing biodiversity loss

The beginnings of the African Youth Summit on Biodiversity date back to the first African Youth Biodiversity Forum, held in South Africa in 2020. This first edition was supported by the Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework-EU support project as part of its efforts to engage the youth across continents in the run-up to the adoption of a transformative Global Biodiversity Framework.

Since then, AYSB has evolved into an annual event that brings together young leaders, researchers, activists, and representatives from various sectors including NGOs, government agencies, and the private sector. Its main mission is to address the current state of biodiversity in Africa and encourage the continent’s youth to get involved in both national-level conservation efforts and the implementation of the decisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF).

The main objectives of the 2nd African Youth Summit on Biodiversity revolved around deepening understanding of the KMGBF while engaging youth in its implementation. It also aimed to provide a platform for sharing experiences, best practices and innovative idea, and inspire young individuals to participate in national initiatives aligned with the KMGBF’s implementation.

Looking at the future, the Summit aspires to ignite the passion of Africa’s youth and empower them to take concrete actions that will shape a more sustainable future for the continent and its rich biodiversity.

Prisca Daka, GYBN Africa Regional Coordinator, remarked, “AYSB2023 is not only an opportunity for African youth to convene and brainstorm actionable solutions to pressing biodiversity challenges facing our community, but it’s also poised to yield youth-led project proposals. The second edition of the African Youth Summit on Biodiversity is being curated with the intention of ensuring youth representation and participation in biodiversity decision-making, as outlined in Target 22 of the Kunming Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. African youth are pivotal to realizing the framework’s objectives.”

Natalia Mendes from the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU Support Project team added, “African Youth is deeply committed and crucial to successfully implement the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. Our project is honoured to support this year’s African Biodiversity Youth Summit. We hope that this event will contribute to scaling up African Youth’s involvement in the KMGBF implementation.”

The Summit was organised by the GYBN Africa, in partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), the Moroccan Youth Biodiversity Network, the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU Support Project, and the Moroccan Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development.

This event brought together hundreds of young voices spanning the African continent in a hybrid format to promote their involvement in biodiversity conservation and decision-making processes.  

The 2023 GEF Assembly in Vancouver provided an opportunity for GYBN Africa youth representatives to raise awareness of the upcoming Summit.

As an outcome of the AYSB in September a closing declaration will be issued later presented at the upcoming CBD SBSSTA in Nairobi next October.

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