Approximately half of the world’s population is under 30 years old, adding greater meaning to the popular notion, “Youth are the custodians of the future.” Any decision made today will have a direct effect on the future lives of our youth and highlights the important role young people can play as key future decision makers.
Around the world, the role and engagement of youth is consistently highlighted, with countries, organisations and groups seeking to support the voice and participation of youth, especially with concern to sustainable development, climate change and environmental issues.
The role of youth in nature conservation was discussed during a session titled ‘Pacific Youth Engagement in Biodiversity and Conservation Decision Making Processes’ at the 10th Pacific Islands Nature Conservation and Protected Areas Conference held from 24 to 27 November 2020.
During the youth session of the conference it was noted that in the Pacific region participation of youth in biodiversity and conservation issues remains at very low levels. There is a need to recognise and strengthen connections, to empower and to connect at regional levels to get the Pacific voice to the global stage. And it is about the Pacific Community (SPC), SPREP, PIRT and all others to work together on this youth and nature conservation connection. We owe it to these young people to not let their cause be lost in the discussions on mandates of organisations.
Participants heard from a strong variety of presenters who each supported the role of youth and building their capacity and access to resources to be able to engage at regional and international levels collaboratively.
“It is incredibly important that our youth be engaged in nature conservation and biodiversity because this is about our future, and the way we must address this must be together. Inter-generational strategies are key in helping bring together the wisdom and experience of our elders, the passion and leadership of youth, and concrete support from different organisations. We need to support youth in their growth, and strengthen their capacities at all levels equipping them with skills and resources required to carry out the incredible work happening all across the region,” said Ms Genevieve Jiva, Coordinator of the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network.
“I believe that for our future it is critical that those who support our young leaders must also support the dismantling of the fossil fuel industry causing the current climate crisis. We must put our communities and people first over profit if we are to survive this crisis.”
The session provided an opportunity to to provide an important Pacific youth perspective and voice at the Pacific Islands Nature Conservation and Protected Areas Conference.
Highlighting the role of youth at the conference, Mr Kosi Latu, Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) touched on their participation at the conference and hoped the space provided for them could encourage strong participation of our Pacific youth.
“The conference also aims to inspire youth in the Pacific to engage in decision-making processes and we are happy to see a youth session and exhibition booth to enhance their participation and exploring structures, mechanisms and strategies that can advance youth participation in decision-making processes around nature conservation in the region,” said Mr Latu.
Youth engagement in decision making and in nature conservation and Biodiversity is identified as a priority outcome of the Pacific Youth Development Framework 2014 – 2023.
A recording of the session will be made available for public viewing by the conference.