Youth Environment Assembly

Launching cooperative platforms to foster youth engagement and reflecting on current initiatives at Youth Environment Assembly.
The third day of the Youth Environment Assembly highlighted the impressive range of actions undertaken by young people around the world.

On 18 February 2021, 83 youth participants representing different countries attended the virtual dialogue session put together by the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN). The session was centered on the Youth manifesto for Nature process, and opened a discussion on how to keep the momentum of the Super Year for Biodiversity high and galvanize action.

The event was also convened to create a collaborative process to build a collective global youth action agenda from the views, values and vision of the youth manifesto. It was part of the second Youth Environment Assembly (YEA) convened online on 12-13 and 18-20 February 2021 by the United Nations Environment Programme Major Group for Children and Youth (UNEP MGCY), as an opportunity to coordinate, mobilize, and build capacity ahead of the 5th session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA5).

“The manifesto is a very clear demand that talks about true transformative change and it has a strong potential for us to advocate for this with negotiators,” Swetha Stotra Bhashyam, a Focal Point at Global Youth Biodiversity Network

GYBN presented the following 11 key priorities in the Youth Manifesto to protect biodiversity and the environment:

  • Ensure intergenerational equity and justice between and within generations;
  • Declare a planetary emergency and urgently address the severity of the ecological crisis;
  • Take a strong, just, courageous, inclusive, rights-based approach in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and Stockholm+50 processes;
  • Acknowledge links between the ecological and socio-economic crises;
  • Create real and transformative behavioural change, particularly through education and environmental governance;
  • Develop effective strategies for biodiversity conservation, restoration and sustainable use, and adopt bold, ambitious and binding environmental global goals;
  • Improve participation of indigenous and local communities, women and youth in environmental governance mechanisms;
  • Guarantee rights-based approaches;
  • Ensure gender-responsiveness;
  • Ensure responsible private sector involvement; and
  • Create strong means of implementation and enabling conditions.

Participants also acknowledged that, while the Youth Manifesto is a very good document for advocacy and lobbying, there is a need to find ways to make it operational in regards to the national context. In addition, they considered that the document should provide further guidance on how youth can engage and work together with their governments and other stakeholders to make it a reality.

Written by youth in an open and collective drafting process, the Youth Manifesto ForNature and its Open Letter was launched on International Youth Day in August 2020. The Youth Manifesto gives a glimpse of how young people see the world as our life support system, calling for urgent and unprecedented action to prevent biodiversity, climate, and environmental collapse. The Open Letter outlines priorities that young people feel must be addressed to set humanity on course for achieving the 2050 vision of “living in harmony with nature”, agreed by world leaders in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The Youth #ForNature Initiative was led by the UNMGCY in collaboration with youth constituencies such as UNEP MGCY (Global Youth for Environment), GYBN, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification Global Youth Caucus, and YOUNGO (Youth for Climate), including other organizations operating at local, national, regional, and global levels, with communication and outreach support from UNEP, the UN Development Programme, the Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat and WWF.

GYBN is a youth-led global network for mobilization, empowerment & action towards a life in harmony with nature. It is also the international coordination platform for youth participation in the CBD.

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