IUCN’s World Heritage programme once again partnered up with different international players to organize the International Youth Forum Go4BioDiv, which took place for the third time, in parallel to CBD-COP 11 in India.
The International Youth Forum Go4BioDiv 2012 offered young dedicated people from all over the world the opportunity to share their very varied on-the-ground marine conservation experience from research, park management and local community life with their peers and the wider public. It enabled them to participate in political discussions by engaging with international leaders during the Conferences of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD-COPs), for example with Braulio Dias, Secretery General CBD, John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General CITES Secretariat, David Sheppard, Director of SPREP, Meena Gupta, IUCN Regional Councillor Youth and East Asia, and Mohammed Majid Hussain, Mayor of Hyderabad.
So far, Go4BioDiv has been carried out twice, in Germany 2008 and in Japan 2010 in cooperation with the IUCN World Heritage Programme, and was a great success. In 2012, Go4BioDiv took place with a nature based camp in the Sundarbans and interventions at the CBD-COP 11 in Hyderabad. In accordance with the COP 10 decisions (Nagoya mandate/Aichi targets), the theme of Go4BioDiv 2012 was ‘Conserving coastal and marine biodiversity for sustaining life and livelihoods’.
Thirty-four engaged young people had been selected to represent their communities, environmental groups and research institutes from all over the world. The Messengers aged 18 to 29, live or work in over 20 different marine World Heritage Sites or in one of the nine coastal states of India. You can learn more about the Messengers here!
After months of online interaction on social media, the Go4BioDiv participants met in India in October 2012. The first 10 days took place in the Sundarbans, a Marine World Heritage Site in India where the prepared their interventions and events to be held at the CBD COP11. Their stay in the Sundarbans was accompanied by workshops on key issues such as (Marine Biodiveristy, Livelihoods, Governance and Fisheries and Communication and Outreach, Theater) and excursions (to the unique mangrove ecosystem of the Sundarbans and to energy supply projects).
In a participatory and democratic process, and based on the findings and discussions from the workshops, the Go4BioDiv Youth Declaration was elaborated. The declaration was perceived as strong and very valid by many experts at COP11.
From October 16-19 the Messengers joined COP11 in Hyderabad where they shared their messages in innovative, creative and globally understandable ways:
- Exhibition Space. The “blue exhibition” contained information about marine conservation.
- Art. Cooperation with established artists Silas Birtwistle and Yvette Co lead to the creation of a huge plastic fish and a paper-maché mangrove garden to raise awareness on key issues
- Side events. Go4BioDiv organized four side events and participated in at least 9 others
- Intervention. Go4BioDiv had the opportunity to make an intervention during the High-Level Segment. This speech was a joint endeavor with the Global Youth for Biodiversity Network (GYBN).
- Performances. Another event in which Go4BioDiv Messengers were included was for instance the award ceremony of the Future Policy Award. Go4BioDiv Messenger Heather Ketebengang received this award for her country Palau. The theatre on livelihoods, performed during the ceremony which was one of the highlights of the evening.