Blog by Nancy Nthiga on youth involvement in conservation and her experience at the IUCN 2019 Regional Conservation Forum for Eastern and Southern Africa
As the youth, we are often told that the future is in our hands but I believe that the future is too far to project its outcome therefore the present is in fact in our hands. I have never seen a more optimistic, innovative, passionate and promising group of people that the current youth of the world. Yet, we don’t get the much needed attention or support to cause enormous change beyond our communities.
If I could sum up my experience at the IUCN 2019 Regional Conservation Forum for Eastern and Southern Africa, I would say that it was Educative. The Forum surpassed my expectation as a youth representative through the presentations given, thematic sessions and networking moments as well. It was great seeing how hopeful the delegates were of the future free from climate change, biodiversity loss and substandard living conditions for people.
This convergence brought like-minded people who share a common goal of promoting conservation and sustainable environment where realistic, impactful and scalable solutions were given for the COP 15, post 2020 framework and IUCN World Conservation Congress 2020. I felt the role of youth and women was given more emphasis during this years’ forum based on how most speakers acknowledged the role of youth in creating an enabling environment for conservation to thrive. With more of such recognition, youth groups will ultimately get the much needed platform to impact decisions and policies.
Therefore, this brings me to my expectation: I hope to see more youths represented in such forums in the future so that we can get different points of view on how to tackle conservation issues. As I mentioned earlier, most of the solutions lie in the youth, but if they are not engaged, how else can we to find out what they have to offer? Africa stands to benefit a lot from this opportunity as we have the highest proportion of youths globally. Let’s take advantage of this. In the words of the late Wangari Maathai, I will end by saying, “It is the little things people do that will make a different, and mine is planting trees.”
Nancy Nthiga is a Third Year student at the African Leadership University University in Rwanda pursuing Global Challenges with a Wildlife Conservation major. Growing up, Nancy has been part of environmental clubs in school and a volunteer at tree planting activities in Kenya. Nancy has also founded a CBO that educates and supports women farmers who practice agroforestry in her community.