The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) joined the world to mark the International Day for Biological Diversity celebration, leading the African youths in conservation of nature.
This year, most if not all campaigns will be held online due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic guided by the theme “Our Solutions are in Nature” AWF said in its statement.
Since its inception in 1993, the International Day of Biological Diversity event has been commemorated on May 22 of every year.
With the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN), AWF organized a webinar discussing the topic titled “Africa’s Future Lies in Innovative Nature-Based Economies: What Role Can Youth Play?” the Foundation said in its statement.
AWF and GYBN seek to steer the webinar conversation around the need to re-examine their relationship to the natural world, reflect on challenges and accomplishments, and renew determination in overcoming the environmental challenges facing the world today.
“As we close out on the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity 2011 to 2020, this super year for nature and biodiversity provides us an opportunity to find solutions to the coronavirus pandemic in nature itself and possibly prevent future outbreaks. It gives us a chance to work together and rethink policies around the protection of the world’s biodiversity,” the AWF statement said.
The 90-minute webinar aimed to share experiences and learn from each other the best nature-based solutions that are working in different landscapes within Africa and propose solutions to existing challenges.
Similar to the rest of the world, Africa is looking for long-lasting solutions to sustain economies post COVID-19. Focusing on nature-based solutions should be paramount to national recovery plans as a majority of the continent’s economy relies on wildlife and tourism.
About 70 percent of Africa’s population is under the age of 30 making it the youngest continent. Therefore, it is vital to engage the youth in conversation around the conservation of Africa’s biodiversity, AWF said.
“AWF recently launched a 10-year strategic vision that focuses on the importance of engaging the youth and ensuring that they are part of the conservation narrative from the on-set,” Fred Kumah Kwame, Vice President of External Affairs at AWF and one of the panelists, emphasized.
“This webinar is one of the many steps we are taking to ensure that the youth are empowered and well-equipped with the skills and knowledge that will advance nature-based solutions,” he said.
Panelists are looking then discuss how the African youth can drive the conversation forward given that conservation is not considered in most nations especially during these COVID-19 pandemic days.
Additionally, the panelists will be providing suggestions or proposals as to how the youth can access the money and the investors of that fund nature-based activities and innovations.
The panel will consist of environmental specialists from across the board including Christina Marie Kolo who is a social entrepreneur, an eco-feminist, and a climate activist from Madagascar. She is the founder and Coordinator of the Green N Kool, a thriving social business, along with Lucy Waruingi who has been working with the African Conservation Centre (ACC) for over 20 years. She has had a long interest in the management and interpretation of biological and environmental data for decision-making and informing initiatives that enhance local livelihoods in rich biodiversity areas.
Fred Kumah Kwame leads the AWF’s engagements with government and multilateral institutions across Africa as Vice President of External Affairs.
Waihiga Muturi, one among the panelists, is a serial social entrepreneur and Communications for Development Specialist with over 10 years of experience in Pan-African socioeconomic innovation while working as the Creator of Opportunities at the award-winning, B-Corps certified “Let’s Create Africa.”
AWF’s partnership with GYBN dates back to 2018 when the 2 organizations partnered to host the very first GYBN Africa Workshop that trained national chapter leaders that have since imparted their knowledge and skills to others with an elevated voice for nature.
AWF has been working in partnership with African governments and international wildlife conservation organizations to protect and develop wildlife sector and nature in the African continent.
Wildlife is the leading source to tourist revenues in Africa, pulling international tourists from all corners of the world for wildlife safari expeditions.