Engaging young people and collaborating across generations is essential for supporting the sustainability movement and the IUCN mission of biodiversity conservation. Dominic Stucker of the CEC Steering Committee introduces the theme of the CEC September 2010 newsletter: Youth and Intergenerational Partnership.
While we were living in Costa Rica, my two-year-old son, Maddox, pointed emphatically at a tall palm tree, making the hand sign for ‘flower.’ My wife patiently corrected him, repeating the hand sign for ‘tree.’ He persisted and, as Abigail bent to his level and looked up at the tree, she saw what he had seen all along – a burst of white petals at the very top.
On another occasion, when I was visiting relatives in Vermont, I was asked to drive my cousin Gabe to kindergarten. I requested that he and his mother each draw me a map. Two wildly different sketches resulted. I thanked both of them, placing the maps in the passenger seat as I drove. I understood Gabe’s mother’s map, drawn from above, the way a bird or an adult might see the world. To my surprise, however, Gabe’s map also made perfect sense – from his perspective, he had drawn all the ups and downs of our trip. Taken together, the two drawings created a topographic map!
Why Intergenerational Partnership for Sustainability?
Engaging young people* and collaborating across generations is essential for supporting the sustainability movement and the IUCN mission of biodiversity conservation. Based on feedback that we have received from workshop participants, surveys, and informal conversations, some of the benefits include:
- improved communication and understanding between different generations
- sustaining the values in society, while allowing flexibility for change
- improved intergenerational equity
- enhanced decision-making
- better outcomes on collaborative projects
Specifically, participants in CEC’s Buddy Experiment reported that they valued the new inspiration, ideas, and cross-cultural understanding; capacity building, skills development, and increased confidence; and work on a joint project that they gained from the experience.
Today’s sustainability and conservation challenges are global and complex, best addressed by convening diverse, innovative, and committed intergenerational teams engaged in research, policymaking, and action.
CEC members all around the world have been involved with youth engagement for many years, as represented in this newsletter. Such decentralized efforts with and by young people are essential for demonstrating IUCN's commitment to youth and the importance of intergenerational partnership for sustainability. My own involvement in CEC started leading up to the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, 2008 when Frits Hesselink and I organized a successful Buddy Experiment that paired 80 CEC members with 80 young people from around the world.. Learn more here >>
The momentum generated was helpful in getting the IUCN Members Assembly to adopt a Resolution on Intergenerational Partnership, which continues to guide and support our efforts. The Resolution builds on the Young Professionals Resolution from the Bangkok Congress in 2004 and IUCN’s Future of Sustainability initiative. Read more about the Resolution here >>
Following the adoption of the Resolution, I was appointed to the CEC Steering Committee to support its implementation. A Young Professionals Leadership Team with over 30 members was formed, in addition to parallel groups in the WCPA and CEL. These groups established a Wikispace site to report publically on opportunities and activities. Read more here >>
Of special interest is the successful appointment, in early 2010, of CEC member Grace Mwaura of Kenya to the IUCN Council. She has already participated in her fist Council meeting and is actively engaged in increasing engagement of young people through the Council and Secretariat. Read more about Grace here, under March and June 2010 >>
Furthermore, through a democratic process, CEC young professionals and the YPLT selected Yvonne Otieno, also of Kenya, to join the official CEC Delegation to the CBD in Nagoya in October. Read more about Yvonne and the selection process here >>
To further this work, efforts to increase youth engagement and intergenerational partnership will continue to be made leading up to the World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Republic of Korea, in 2012.
The CEC Young Professionals Leadership Team, for example, has formed five Working Groups::
- Recruitment of YPs
- Networking and Communication among YPs
- Capacity Building and Strategic Events for YPs
- Integration of YPs into CEC Projects
- Initiatives with other Commissions, Council, and Secretariat
Each Working Group brainstormed project ideas, which were shaped into a survey to identify the needs and interests of the CEC young professionals network. YPLT work will focus on those priority areas that emerge. One Working Group is also surveying other Commissions to identify opportunities for increased and meaningful intergenerational projects. The YPLT hopes to support the formation of other young professionals groups on the three remaining Commissions.
Finally, a longer-term vision that I hold is the creation of an IUCN-wide Task Force on Intergenerational Partnership. Such a Task Force would consist of Councilors, Staff, and Commission members of all ages. It would support YP groups in each Commission in addition to possibly supporting the emergence of a robust and high-quality internship program across all IUCN regional offices.
I am especially grateful to the CEC Steering Committee and leadership, CEC staff, and the Council for their support of our efforts. I deeply appreciate those CEC members who are volunteering their time to help further youth engagement and intergenerational partnership within issues like biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, poverty eradication, gender equity and, in a word, sustainability. Keep up the commendable work!
CEC Steering Committee
* 35 years and younger