Young people from all five continents representing natural World Heritage sites are gathering at a nature-based camp at the foot of Mount Fuji, Japan for the International Youth Forum Go4BioDiv – Our Treasures at Risk – to share experiences and challenges facing their sites, notably climate change.
Guest speaker, IUCN’s Deputy Director General, Bill Jackson addressed the youth group on the role of IUCN in relation to World Heritage Sites (WHS). He highlighted the importance of WHS in the role of biodiversity conservation and the challenges being faced in safeguarding them as well as in implementing the World Heritage Convention. These include retaining the quality of the World Heritage brand, effective management of sites, ensuring WHS as flagships for conservation and dealing with workload and funding resources.
The Go4BioDiv Youth Forum, organized by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, IUCN and other partners, is running parallel to the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD-COP10) that is taking place in Nagoya, Japan. Some of the concerns raised by the Forum participants include the commitments by their governments to the sustainable management of World Heritage sites and unsustainable use of sites such as through excessive tourism and mining.
Before the conference, the participants, who represent sites as diverse as the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, submitted pictures, cartoons and video clips they made about their sites and interviews they conducted with park rangers or village elders.
During the conference, they are presenting their various concerns and a common vision through side events and discussions with politicians and policy makers. They are calling on the global community to act now to save World Heritage sites and all their treasures.
These young advocates of diversity represent a range of 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 the 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.”
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