Voices of the future: Involving youth in restoration

Young people have immense potential to contribute to forest conservation and restoration. Watch our video and read on to see how and why IUCN is harnessing their knowledge and skills to tackle some of the world's most pressing issues.

Youth video screenshot

In Colombia and Rwanda, young people have played a crucial role in furthering IUCN’s efforts to restore degraded and deforested landscapes using the forest landscape restoration (FLR) approach.

At a Congo Basin Forest Partnership meeting held in November 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda, 30 young restoration champions from the King David Academy addressed 800 country delegates about the importance of restoration. The delegates came from across the world and they were moved by the children’s speeches that drew attention to the world they wanted to inherit and their right to a secure, green planet. Twenty five more schools in the region will be joining this awareness effort in the coming months.

In Antioquia, Colombia IUCN is involving students from the Universidad Católica del Oriente (UCO) in FLR efforts. They are learning about climate smart agricultural production, ecosystem services (mitigation, adaptation, biodiversity, and water), gender equity, food security, finance strategies, and more.

IUCN is also working towards involving young people in planning FLR interventions, during the application of the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM). One of the hallmarks of ROAM is its ability to bring people – including youth – together to identify, negotiate, and implement practices that restore an agreed optimal balance of the ecological, social, and economic benefits of forests and trees within a broader pattern of land uses. As one of the diverse stakeholder groups that are key to the ROAM process, youth must be involved in any effort to restore degraded lands. IUCN ensures that youth representatives are invited to stakeholder workshops and involved throughout the assessment.

Many youth organisations, local universities, and others share common goals of conservation and have a desire to contribute with their own experiences to conservation outcomes within the context of challenges encountered in their regions. IUCN is committed to engaging youth in FLR, which will provide benefits to human well-being through multi-functional landscapes, as well as jobs and income beneficial to these groups both now and into the future. Partnering with young and innovative people interested in the environment, is vital for the success of our work.

IUCN supports countries, organisations, communities and enterprises in defining and implementing pledges to the Bonn Challenge target of bringing 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land into restoration by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. In addition to achieving domestic priorities such as food production and water security, the Bonn Challenge contributes to REDD+ objectives under the UNFCCC, Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, implementing these commitments at national and sub-national scales will require a translation of global ambition to local action, which in turn will require broad participation of youth groups as part of an integrated approach reflecting the context and needs identified in the priority region.

Youth that participate in FLR and ROAM can develop expertise and contribute towards a better understanding of the value of natural resources, carbon accounting and degradation measurements, halting habitat loss and fragmentation, reconciling conservation goals with livelihoods, enhancing water quality and quantity, and growing and sustaining livelihoods. IUCN looks forward to continuing to engage with young people to strengthen our FLR work. 

Our video is also available in Spanish

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