Role of young people in conservation critical

The role of youth in nature conservation is critical.

The point was made during the 10th Pacific Islands Nature Conservation and Protected Areas conference held from 24 to 27 November 2020. As part of the conference, a virtual session titled ‘Pacific Youth Engagement in Biodiversity and Conservation Decision Making Processes" zeroed in on the the role of young people.

Coordinator of the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network, Genevieve Jiva, said it is incredibly important youth are engaged in nature conservation and biodiversity because this is about the future.

Inter-generational strategies were also identified as key in helping bring together the wisdom and experience of 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," Jiva said.

“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 Director General of S.P.R.E.P., Leota Kosi Latu, said he hopes the space provided for the youth voice in the conference would encourage strong participation from the young people of the Pacific.

“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 Leota.

In a statement issued by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P.), it was noted that in the Pacific region participation of youth in biodiversity and conservation issues remains at very low levels.

Despite many youth organisations and leaders at the national level involved in nature conservation projects and activities, there is no formal forum or platform where youth can come together to share and coordinate a unified Pacific youth voice on the international stage. 

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.

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. 

The conference is organised every five to six years by the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation (P.I.R.T.) and S.P.R.E.P. 

The 10th Conference is hosted by the Government of New Caledonia.

The conference was originally scheduled to be held as a face-to-face event in Noumea, New Caledonia, from 19 – 24 April 2020. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in the closure of borders for most countries in the Pacific, it has had to be postponed and changed to a virtual meeting.

More than 150 speakers expected to present on various topics pertaining to the themes of “Our Ocean”, “Our Island”, and “Our Connection with Nature.” Currently, there are over 1700 registered participants of the conference. 

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