AWF Leads African Youth in Championing Biodiversity Conservation

Nairobi, Kenya

Today, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) will join the rest of the world in the International Day for Biological Diversity celebration. Since its inception in 1993, the event is commemorated on the 22nd of May every year. This year, most if not all campaigns will be held online due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic guided by the theme is ‘Our Solutions are in Nature’.

In this light, AWF in collaboration with the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) Africa is hosting a webinar discussing the topic: ‘Africa’s Future Lies in Innovative Nature-Based Economies: What Role Can Youth Play?’ AWF and GYBN seek to steer the webinar conversation around the need to re-examine our relationship to the natural world, reflect on challenges and accomplishments, and renew our determination in overcoming the environmental challenges facing the world today.

As we close out on the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020, 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 90-minute webinar aims 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 our 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.

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 the conversation around the conservation of Africa’s biodiversity.

“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. 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,” Fred Kumah Kwame, Vice President of External Affairs at AWF and one of the panelists emphasizes.

Panelists will discuss how the African youth can drive the conversation forward given that conservation is not considered in most nations especially during this pandemic. Additionally, they will be providing suggestions or proposals as to how the youth can access the money and the investors 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 ecofeminist, and a climate activist from Madagascar. She is the founder and Coordinator of the Green N Kool, a thriving social business; 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; AWF's Fred Kumah Kwame who leads the organization's engagements with government and multilateral institutions across Africa as Vice President of External Affairs; and Waihiga Muturi, a serial social entrepreneur and a Communications for Development Specialist with over 10 years of experience in Pan-African socioeconomic innovation whilst 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 two 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.