For more than 16 months now, the COVID-19 global pandemic has dramatically changed the way we work and collaborate with each other. Since March 2020, almost all workshops, conferences, seminars and CBD meetings that would normally have taken place in-person, had to be either cancelled, postponed or were required to happen online. However, participation in online-meetings requires stable and reasonably fast internet connections. While these are widely available in many urban areas, particularly in developed countries, those who are living in more rural areas and developing countries are generally at a huge disadvantage.
“For SBSTTA24 and SBI3, the number of registered participants was twice higher for virtual meetings than for physical previous editions.” Aleksander Chestakov, Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
During the event, the Global Youth Biodiversity Network provided a space for an open dialogue between representatives of civil society, women and youth as well as representatives of governments, different bodies and working groups of the CBD.
“We have national chapters of the youth to organize to coordinate and align among different organizations to send messages. It changes parties behaviours allowing time for observers.” Hesiquio Benitez, SBSTTA chair.
This event allowed for a vibrant exchange of views and experiences with regards to digital inequality and virtual negotiations. This dialogue also helped to identify ways to better address digital inequality in the context of the CBD in order to ensure that the process towards the Post-2020 GBF is truly inclusive and delivers a framework that we can all gather behind.
“Youth statement at SBI was really well prepared and to the point. When we will meet again on a physical setting, it will enable us to be much more efficient. It was really useful to listen to all experiences.” Charlotta Sorqvist SBI chair.
As part of the event, GYBN also launched a report on Digital Inequality, which summarizes the results of a survey that was conducted among youth from all over the world in order to asses the level of digital inequality that young people are experiencing. According to the study almost half of the respondents (40%) don’t have fixed-line Internet at home.
“We need to recognize that digital inequity is rooted in the systemic inequities.” Lim Li Ching, Third World Network.
Outcomes of this dialogue will be taken up as GYBN and other youth organizations and networks build a movement for decision-makers to recognize and support the role of youth in addressing biodiversity loss and in the lead up to the adoption of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
“The online process is creating inequity. It is very difficult for people pushing for change to pass their message across. Our role as co-chairs is to make sure that the process provides equal voice for all. I am not sure that the online process allows for that.” Basile Van Havre & Francis Ogwal, Co-Chairs of the CBD Open Ended Working Group negotiating Global Biodiversity Framework.
Watch the replay of the Dialogue: