IUCN Global Youth Summit

Strengthening connections between young leaders and their existing global networks
The online IUCN One Nature One Future Global Youth Summit kicked off on April 6th, and ran until April 16th. The Summit strengthened connections between young leaders and their existing global networks, encouraged interdisciplinary learning, provided a space for broader storytelling on conservation, and added momentum to growing youth movements for nature and climate.

More than 13,000 young people connected and exchange ideas online at the first-ever International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Global Youth Summit, from 6 to 16 April 2021. The outcomes of the Summit will be presented to the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France (3 to 11 September 2021), helping engage and empower the voice of youth in nature conservation around the world.

Over two weeks, participants were be able to join virtual youth-led interactive workshops in thematic tracks including the relationship between people and nature, climate change, marine and freshwater conservation, technology and innovation, and rights, governance and social justice. The event featured three high-level intergenerational dialogues, 60+ youth-led workshops, dozens of informal networking sessions, body awareness classes and a weekend film festival.

Programme highlights included:

  • Global Youth Summit Opening & Intergenerational Dialogue: “Super-year” for Nature and beyond: mobilising young leaders and building momentum. 6 April, 13:00-15:00 UTC.

Featuring Jayathma Wickramanayake, United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth; and AY Young, artist and member of the UN’s 2020 Class of “Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals”. Moderated by Swetha Stotra Bhashyam, Global Youth Biodiversity Network.

  • Youth and the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework with the Global Youth Biodiversity Network. 8 April, 15:00-17:00 UTC.
  • Intergenerational Dialogue: Moving from token voices to heeded partners: Youth in Governance and Decision-Making. 9 April, 13:00-15:00 UTC.
  • Intergenerational Dialogue: Supporting and Valuing the Voice of Indigenous Peoples: the Role of Youth. 14 April, 13:00-15:00 UTC.
  • Intergenerational Dialogue: Transformative Education with the Global Youth Biodiversity Network. 14 April, 15:00-17:00 UTC
  • Youth Leadership Dialogue: The ForNature Youth Manifesto with the Global Youth Biodiversity Network. 15 April, 13:00-15:00 UTC.
  • Global Youth Summit Closing: 16 April, 13:00-15:00 UTC.

Key speakers included:

  • Jayathma Wickramanayake, United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth
  • Neeshad Shafi, founder of the Arab Youth Climate Movement in Qatar
  • Lefteris Arapakis, Co-Founder & Director Enaleia, 2020 UNEP Young Champion of the Earth
  • Paloma Costa, UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group, lawyer and human rights defender
  • Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility
  • Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretay, UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • David Cooper, Deputy Executive Secretary, UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • Ron Hallman, President and CEO, Parks Canada
  • Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • SungAh Lee, Deputy Director General, IUCN
  • Swetha Stotra Bhashyam, Global South Focal Point, Global Youth Biodiversity Network.

During the Summit, GYBN announced the launch of an international campaign “Your Promise, Our Future”. Inspiring other youth, decision-makers, and civil society to take action for biodiversity, “Your Promise, Our Future” will gather commitments, build awareness and reflect on the many pathways to living in harmony with nature. It will also create momentum and support for young people to join the Youth Manifesto for Nature.

You can find more information on the IUCN Global Youth Summit and read an interview of young people demanding action on Nature.




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