In an effort to involve the young generation in the decision-making process and present their experience in biodiversity conservation, young adults representing natural World Heritage sites around the world have joined the Go4BioDiv International Youth Forum. The Forum is held from 16-29 October at Mt Fuji and Nagoya, Japan, parallel to the Convention on Biological Diversity's 10th Conference of Parties (CBD-COP10) in Japan. The young adults are united under the theme "Our Treasures at Risk - World Heritage Sites in Times of Climate Change".
34 young advocates, stemming from 25 World Heritage sites from all five continents, have opened the Youth Forum at a nature-based camp at the foot slopes of emblematic Mt. Fuji. Here, they get to know each other, learn and exchange views about biodiversity, World Heritage and climate change and prepare their participation at COP10 in Nagoya. Before the conference, the participants, who represent sites as diverse as the Galápagos Islands (Ecuador), Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Dja Faunal Reserve (Cameroon), Wadden Sea (Germany), Sagarmatha (Nepal), Phong Nha-Ke Bang (Vietnam) or the Great Barrier Reef (Australia), submitted pictures, cartoons and video clips they made about their sites and interviews they conducted with park rangers or village elders. At the conference, they will present their different concerns and common vision in side events, discussions with politicians and other stakeholders as well as through colourful stage performances, an exhibition and a booklet. The Go4BioDiv advocates are calling on the world community to act now in order to save their World Heritage sites and all their treasures.
The young advocates of diversity bring forward different issues - Saningo from Tanzania is worried about the effects of climate change on Kilimanjaro: "We are used to seeing Kili covered with snow but the glacier is constantly retreating. I want to know what I can do to protect my home from the effects of climate change". Andrea from Galapagos Islands worries about tourism and overpopulation: "We have to address these issues urgently - they constantly threaten the islands". They also agree that nature conservation should be put into a wider perspective, as Sudeep from Nepal points out: "We have to address equity and ecology together. Nature protection, culture conservation and development cannot be treated separately anymore."
This event is organized by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre along with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), Tsukuba University and the German Technical Corporation GTZ. It offers young participants the opportunity to exchange their views on and creatively engage with natural World Heritage sites as the flagships of nature conservation, and the problems those sites face, especially through climate change. It is embedded into the broader framework of the UN-Year of Biodiversity, the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures and the International Year of Youth. This initiative carries on the achievements of the first Youth Forum Go4BioDiv held during COP9 in Bonn, Germany (2008), where the participants provided creative and critical inputs for delegates and the wider public.