African Youth Urge World Leaders to Commit to Protecting Biodiversity

By Shout-Africa News – KIGALI,  — Young people from across Africa called on world leaders on World Environment Day to act now to protect biodiversity.

In a statement addressed to global leaders for the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB), the young delegates, aged 14 to 24, expressed their frustration that no government has met the 2010 biodiversity targets, while pressures driving biodiversity loss are either constant or increasing in intensity as indicated by the Global Biodiversity Outlook report.

The statement, which culminated a four –day Tunza African Youth Environment Network (AYEN) Conference – also emphasized the need for strong vision and leadership.

“We, the youth of Africa, have witnessed the depletion of our fish stocks, clearing of our forests, conversion of more than half of the world’s wetlands and emission of enough green-house gases to keep our planet warming for centuries to come. You are the decision makers and leaders of our societies, holding the power to make a positive difference and to combat biodiversity loss. We urge you to promote sustainable development and to reduce direct and indirect pressure on the environment and to increase efficiency in natural resource

utilization to meet the development demands of society,” read the statement.

Africa’s young environmental leaders also exhorted leaders to tackle biodiversity loss as a priority as many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable groups of society depend mainly on the earth’s natural resources for survival.

Key recommendations to World leaders include:

• Promote sustainable development that reduces direct and indirect pressures on the environment and increases efficiency in natural resource utilization that meets the demands of the society;

• Recognize the complex links between the various environmental challenges such as biodiversity loss, desertification and climate change and address these issues in an integrated manner;

• Recognize the importance of ecosystem services for human livelihoods and support action to conserve, restore and protect these for present and future generations;

• Enable equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of and access to biodiversity and its underlying ecosystem services;

• Increase engagement between different stakeholders involved in conservation including communities and draw upon indigenous knowledge in projects development and implementation;

• Foster youth development that encourages involvement in environmental initiatives, green economies and engages them in policy processes and decision-making.

• Promote education, empowerment and awareness around issues of biodiversity.

Young delegates also called on world citizens to gather knowledge of the environment we’re living in and to work towards its conservation.

“We need to realize the huge value of natural ecosystems and how far biodiversity impacts our daily lives. Only when we fully value nature will we properly protect it,” they said.

The Tunza regional Youth Conference was organized by UNEP with the support of Bayer AG.

The Tunza Regional Youth Conference themed “African Youth Standing up for Biodiversity”, was organized as part of the celebrations of global celebrations of World Environment Day being held in Rwanda.

The conference aimed at raising awareness of the youth on key concerns about biodiversity and how the major challenges can be successfully tackled and what role the youth of Africa can play in this collective


The conference was also meant to consolidate the regional network of young environmentalists from the continent to enable UNEP to better engage young people in fulfilling its mission.