The Go4BioDiv International Youth Forum for Natural World Heritage Sites took place from 16-29 October in Mt Fuji and Nagoya, Japan, in parallel to the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The theme of the forum was "Our Treasures at Risk - World Heritage Sites in Times of Climate Change". Thirty-four young participants represented 23 World Heritage sites as diverse as the Galápagos Islands (Ecuador), Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Dja Faunal Reserve (Cameroon), Wadden Sea (Germany), Sagarmatha (Nepal), Phong Nha-Ke Bang (Vietnam) and the Great Barrier Reef (Australia). Before the forum began, they submitted pictures, cartoons and video clips they had made about their sites and interviews they had conducted with park rangers or village elders.
Based in a camp at the foot of Mt. Fuji, the young people shared their experiences and discussed challenges and threats concerning their sites. They also engaged in creative activities, showing the results later during the forum in Nagoya: they designed a treasure box and filled it with treasures from their sites, and they prepared a dance performance with the help of professional choreographers. Experts from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) and the international cooperation enterprise GTZ briefed the participants on specific topics and engaged in conceptual debates. With this background, the Go4BioDiv participants prepared several side events, as well as a press and networking strategy for COP10.
One side event concerned indigenous issues: several indigenous youths discussed the role of local communities and their personal involvement in nature conservation, but also the challenges they are facing. Other highlights were two dance performances, one followed by a panel discussion between youth representatives and staff members of UNESCO and IUCN.
The participants produced personal video statements, an exhibition and a brochure. They called upon decision-makers and the public to halt biodiversity loss and conserve their treasures - not only through their official activities and documents but also through their personal interaction with COP10 attendees.
In order to continue the initiative, the Go4BioDiv participants decided to redesign the Go4BioDiv website to include information about natural World Heritage sites, the threats they are facing and the participants' personal involvement in nature conservation. The young participants are highly motivated to continue their cooperation and are already preparing for COP11 to be held in India in 2012.
For more information, please consult www.go4biodiv.org or contact Nina Treu (firstname.lastname@example.org).