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18 African Countries Attend First Global Youth in Biodiversity Network in Africa

Youth from 18 African countries working towards conservation and protection of biodiversity will attend the first Global Youth in Biodiversity Network in Africa workshop in Muldersdrift, Gauteng, to exchange ideas and find possible solutions to preventing biodiversity loss.

Established in 2010, the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) is an international network of youth organisations and individuals – representing 343 000 members from 107 countries worldwide.

The network – which is the official youth coordination platform in the negotiations under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – “raises awareness among young people on the values of biodiversity,” says the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). The network “connects individuals and youth organisations to build a global coalition to halt the effects of climate change on the environment”, adds the DEA.

Co-founder of the GYBN, Christian Schwarzer, says “I hope that this workshop will help the youth to go back to their communities and to become the agents of change that we need in support of the conservation of biodiversity.”

“We hope that we show to governments that young people can make a difference and can become partners for biodiversity conservation,” adds Schwarzer.

The week-long workshop brings together youth from Morocco, Sudan, Kenya, Ghana, Togo and South Africa, and aims to empower young people to become “change agents in support of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the mainstreaming of Biodiversity”.

“The choice of South Africa as the venue for the first GYBN in Africa underscores the country’s position among the most bio-diverse in the world, as is the case in most countries in Africa,” says the DEA.

The GYBN in Africa – one of a number of “Youth Voices” workshops being hosted worldwide – allows participants to learn about the CBD-process, the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, the implementation of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP) and the importance of mainstreaming Biodiversity into other sectors.

Participants will also learn about project management, effective communication, advocacy work and fundraising. “Each would then develop their own small projects and campaigns that will directly contribute to the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets,” says the DEA.

According to the DEA, the workshop is a platform for “young leaders and experts from NGOs, governments, sub-national and other authorities as well as local communities and indigenous peoples to allow young people to discover and understand different perspectives”.

DEA’s Skumsa Mancotywa says that the youth “have a central role in ensuring biodiversity protection” especially to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The National Biodiversity Economy Strategy (NBES) by South Africa is “the government’s blueprint for sustaining the growth of the wildlife and bioprospecting industries by providing a basis for addressing constraints for growth in the sector; outline stakeholder responsibilities; and monitor progress with regard to Transformative Enabling Interventions”, says the DEA.

The Bioprospecting and Biotrade markets, and the wildlife sectors, have the potential “to contribute billions of Rands to the economy”, through the development and sale of products derived from our natural resources, and the sustainable utilisation of wildlife.

“The delegates will develop a Roadmap on how to develop the GYBN in Africa and South Africa in order to ensure conservation is not only addressed at heritage level, but also addresses socio-economic perspectives by ensuring natural resources play a development role in Africa and South Africa,” adds the DEA.

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