Building peace in the minds of men and women

UNESCO launches global programme to train 200,000 youth on climate and biodiversity skills

24 September 2019

UNESCO’s strong engagement with youth aims to give them a voice and drive social innovation and change, to enable them to participate fully in the policies defining their future. Standing with them at the UN Climate Summit, the organization announced a training and capacity building programme on climate knowledge to empower 200,000 youth per year, and called all governments to join this movement to reach the target of 2 Million Youth Empowerment by 2030.

By bringing more than 50 youth engaged in climate action from Biosphere Reserves designated by UNESCO around the world, and supporting the participation of 35 youth selected by the UN, the organization was a key sponsor of the highly successful Youth Climate Summit.

In addressing the Youth Climate Summit, Amanda R. Carvalho from the São Paulo City Green Belt Biosphere Reserve in Brazil explained that biosphere reserves are ideal climate change observatories and laboratories for sustainable development, through exploring and testing policies, technologies and innovations for the sustainable management of biodiversity and natural resources. “The biosphere reserve where I grew up surrounds one of the biggest cities in the world, and the people living in the city are not aware of what biosphere reserves are and their impacts on people, although they benefit directly”, she continued, as forests provide clean air and water, not to mention their importance for biodiversity, the climate and the welfare of people living in forests, including indigenous peoples, as well as people living in cities, such as São Paulo.



UNESCO aims to capitalize on its extensive networks of designated sites to support youth leadership:  1,200 World Heritage, Sites, 701 Biosphere Reserves and 140 UNESCO Global Geoparks, home to 70 million youth, will serve as training hubs to train 200,000 per year on climate knowledge and give them the tools they need to translate their ideas in to climate action.


“Unite behind science” was a rallying call the participants of the Youth Climate Summit. The previous week, the participants of the MAB Youth Forum had also called for scientists, the private sector, governments, NGOs and the communities to address climate change and its impacts on Biosphere Reserves. As the scientific organization of the UN, UNESCO will mobilize its international scientific and intergovernmental networks to protect and valorize critical ecosystems of exceptional ecological value to the planet in its 2,200 designated sites, and foster nature-based solutions to climate change and the great environmental challenges that threaten sustainable development.

In the Lake Chad Basin, where desertification, conflicts and migration are impacting 40 million people, an alert system was developed by UNESCO to help the community cope with extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, and green economy initiatives are being developed, notably for women.

In 52 African biosphere reserves, solar panels will bring renewable energy to 108 schools and 120 community centres. UNESCO is training the community, and especially women, to use and maintain the panels, and helping to ensure school safety.

In the Principe Biosphere Reserve, a “no plastics” campaign is protecting precious biodiversity, including in marine areas, and bringing safe drinking water to schools, markets and other key public spaces.  
UNESCO is bringing many more solutions to the UN Climate Summit and General Assembly this week.