Building peace in the minds of men and women

Youth come together in China to share their commitment for biodiversity

16 September 2019

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© Changbai Mountain

This Sunday, 15 September 2019, 176 young people from 83 countries gathered in the Changbaishan Biosphere Reserve in China for the opening of the 2nd MAB Youth Forum. UNESCO has brought them together to empower them and work together under the theme ‘Committed to Biodiversity’ towards the 15th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 15) which will be held in China next year.

Youth from all over the world have gathered to make their voices heard within UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. This is the second time that MAB has invited youth that either live or work in a biosphere reserve, areas that are committed to developing solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use, after the successful 1st MAB Youth Forum, which took place in the Po Delta Biosphere Reserve in Italy (September 2017).

This year’s theme is ‘Committed to Biodiversity’, since the forum will mainly work towards the 15th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 15) to be held in Kunming, China in 2020. Under the theme “Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth”, the 2020 Biodiversity Conference will give voice to the aspirations of people around the world to build a global society in which economic, social, cultural and environmental concerns are addressed in a truly holistic way, achieved through a renewed relationship between humans an nature. These are core values of UNESCO’s MAB Programme, and youth should have an active role in this process. The MAB programme is committed to support youth as an engaged actor during this important conference through this 2nd MAB Youth Forum, as well as within the World Network of Biosphere Reserves and further actions related to the post 2020 agenda for biodiversity.

The forum began on Sunday with an opening ceremony, attended by the local and national authorities, followed by inspirational keynote speeches. “I pledge that UNESCO will continue to strengthen its efforts to empower youth, to listen to their voice and engage with them in the post-2020 agenda for biodiversity.” said UNESCO Deputy Director General, Mr. Xing Qu, in his message to the young participants. Mr. Shang Zhen, representative of Shimao Group, stated that it’s a "… pleasure to cooperate with UNESCO to support the 2019 MAB Youth Forum and we hope that, with our continuous efforts, exploration and attempts in achieving sustainable development, we will further strengthen the protection of biodiversity with all parties...".

The Forum is taking place on 15 - 18 September 2019 and is organized by the UNESCO-MAB Programme and the UNESCO Beijing Office in close cooperation with the Changbaishan Biosphere Reserve. The 2019 MAB Youth Forum, implemented in partnership with the Global Youth Biodiversity Network, was made possible thanks to the support of the Chinese MAB National Committee, the International Alliance of Protected Areas (IAPA) and the Shimao Group.

Participants of the 2nd MAB Youth Forum, China. © Changbai Mountain