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A good recipe on youth engagement for biodiversity protection

Take a group of young advocates around Europe, eager to be active citizens and have a participatory role in the society. Give them a “virtual” space to network, address, and discuss issues that connect environment and youth engagement.

Key ingredients are an environmental lawyer, who is fighting against illegal lodging in eastern Europe, the energetic beekeeper duo envisioning a world where pollinators are no longer threatened, climate activists raising awareness on biodiversity, a biologist working on mountain gorilla conservation, and some people working in different fields but who all agree that it is essential to tackle the disruption of natural ecosystems. For a bitter taste, add a global pandemic. Doomsday narratives about a precarious future should be avoided, while “all work and no financial support” general mindset will leave you with a spicy aftertaste.

This is how we were able to cook Biodiversity Action Europe (BAE), created in 2019 as a movement by young Europeans, who are constantly advocating and seeking to reverse biodiversity loss in Europe and beyond. We do this by interacting with European Union (EU) institutions, various organizations, and all who wish to engage in a constructive conversation.

The first pillar of our work was the public launch of our Call for Action in September 2020, where we urge the EU to fundamentally address the biodiversity crisis in three specific ways:

  • Engage with science and environmental agreements;

  • Enforce existing laws and regulations; and

  • Enable society to reshape its relationship with nature.

Additionally, we took part in various public events such as the EU Green Week, where Commissioner Sinkevičius and Director General Fink-Hooijer participated in our session. Since 2019, our team has evolved continuously with new members joining BAE, which kept on bringing fresh perspectives and positive energy in our projects. Thanks to our Call for Action, we reached 50 organisations and over 600 individuals throughout Europe and the world who support our manifesto and wish to join our movement for biodiversity.

Our future vision for BAE is to be an umbrella organization that brings together youth advocacy groups working on biodiversity. As most of our members are part of environmental organizations operating in Europe, we wish to bring these groups together to create a space of discussion and of mutual support, and to enable the flow of information from citizens to policymakers. BAE would become a platform to build a structured youth engagement for biodiversity.

Our long-term purpose is to establish biodiversity at every stage of political discussions and decisions which may impact biodiversity, even when environmental conservation is not the primary focus. We want citizens, policy makers, industries, educators, and kids in school to acknowledge, learn and talk about biodiversity. You got it: our main motivation is to mainstream biodiversity, and to specifically mainstream a youth perspective on biodiversity.

As young environmentalists, we have the power to make biodiversity cool to talk about. Collectively, we can discuss biodiversity crisis among our peers, make it a priority in political talks, and, in general, raise public awareness. Additionally, not only do we have the ability to influence and set trends or priorities, but we can act as guardians and hold accountable those who are responsible for implementing laws and regulations. Take as examples the European Biodiversity Strategy 2020 or at a more international level the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. As BAE, we clearly stated that the world has failed to meet any of these biodiversity targets both in our Call for Action while demanding for better enforcement of existing regulations, and on every occasion that presented to us where policymakers were involved.

Because we have a compelling power to unify our voices and make them sound stronger, the role in society of young environmental movements and organizations such as BAE is to oversee if ecosystems (society, economic sphere, or environment) are healthy. And if not, if a disruption is occurring, we shall jointly raise our voice and hold accountable those who are responsible for endangering our future.

You can read and support our Call for Action on our website https://www.biodiversitybae.org/call-for-action or follow us on our social media @BiodiversityBAE

If you are interested to join as a member Biodiversity Action Europe, fill this form https://bit.ly/36ZpZRu

Written by Jurgena Kamberaj Biodiversity Action Europe Member

Storyteller and nature lover, combining a buzzing activist life with a career as a scientist monitoring worldwide environmental disasters

Originally published via Medium: https://medium.com/naturewords/a-good-recipe-on-youth-engagement-for-biodiversity-protection-f4957590ab78

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