2020 is perceived as the super year for biodiversity and nature, owing to the repeated calls for urgent solutions to the current global climate crisis. With the continued rise in global temperatures, unprecedented loss of biodiversity, and the risk of losing many species of plants and animals due to related extinction, 2020 provides an excellent and probably the last opportunity for relevant stakeholders to implement nature-based solutions and lay down viable policies that will reverse the trends, sustain humanity, and guarantee the future of our planet.
Young Kenyans have not been left behind in this realization-many of them agree that a youth-centered approach is vital if governments and other stakeholders are to achieve the much-needed stabilization of our ecosystems whose services humans depend on for survival. The Kenyan Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN Kenya), a chapter of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (www.gybn.org) convened in Kakamega from 18th to 20th February 2020 to discuss the provisions of the Zero Draft document of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). As a crucial part of the policy formulation process, the perspectives of young environmentalists play an important role in shaping the future of conservation. It is encouraging to see that the Convention of Biological Diversity allows input from different role-players, including youth.
Since 2018, the Kenyan Youth Biodiversity Network has been holding consultation meetings aimed at documenting input from young people at grass-root level in various parts of the country, with the policy statements being forwarded for consideration by the CBD. Some of the aspects the youth have considered to be of significant impact in shaping the post-2020 global biodiversity framework include gender, human rights, inter-generational equity, wild animal welfare, nature-based solutions, and inter-generational knowledge. The youth hope that the next framework of the Convention will see increased action and support to achieve more than the outgoing Aichi targets.
During the Kakamega meeting, which also saw the participants visit the soothing Kakamega Forest, and home to several endemic species including the African Grey parrots, the following was discussed:
- While some of the topics GYBN Kenya had proposed in its earlier submissions to the CBD, such as inter-generational equity, gender, human rights, and active engagement of local and indigenous communities in conservation were highlighted in the text, it was evident that some aspects were still missing and/or needed an emphasizing language.
- In some discussions, heated debates and controversies arose from topics such as the legalization of hunting as a sustainable way of utilization of natural resources.
- Young people also feel that the youth agenda needed more emphasis to be placed on capacity-building, youth-focused innovation and incubation centers for conservation, and provision of sufficient resources for youth-led action on conservation, if the next framework is to be successful.
- The issue of carbon emissions was also discussed deeply, with young people expressing the need for countries to urgently cut on the current huge emissions by increasing the 2030 targets to considerable percentages (above 80%), streamlining national policies to be in line with the global targets. Legislation and funding that reduce carbon emissions by more than 50% by 2030 and zero net emissions (climate neutrality) by 2050 should be put into effect.
- It was also proposed that a national scientific body be formulated by the relevant stakeholders (including youth) to oversee the implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
- An emphasis on private sector engagement, the contribution of all sectors to the post-2020 global goals, and streamlining conservation in national priorities.
- Companies should align their climate targets with post-2020 goals. Companies should also provide comprehensive reports on the climate-related risks they face, and how they can work with the Convention to effectively address them.
- Support to local communities and indigenous people should be elaborate, specific, and enhanced. People should be made aware of the critical importance of ecosystem health and be offered support, resources, enabling policy, and collaboration opportunities with the governments, civil society, and all relevant stakeholders.
- Youth-led and youth-inclusive nature-based solutions that support the post-2020 global biodiversity targets should be supported by enabling policy and adequate funding.
- Countries should consider the declaration of a global climate emergency and mobilize all stakeholders (including youth) and other enabling factors to address the crisis.
- To enhance sustainable production and consumption, a target on related awareness and advocacy should be made more specific and ambitious. The target should also be expanded to included due diligence in supply chains ensure human rights and environmental impacts are monitored and evaluated.
- Investments in nature should be increased. Nature protection should not hinder economic growth but must provide an opportunity to improve livelihoods, create employment, and sustain life.