Young people have limited influence across sectors, including biodiversity conservation.
While some aspects of environmental education are incorporated in school curriculums, delivery mechanisms and learning approaches are not designed to encourage youth participation in biodiversity conservation. Yet, getting youth connected to nature requires an innovative, youth-led, practical approach that triggers critical reflections and strategic action. Without a strong, informed foundation and limited platforms to participate and lead, young people are mostly indifferent and excluded from conservation conversations. As such, youth stewardship in the conservation sector and championing the green agenda continue to be wanting.
Few opportunities for learning and professional development in conservation.
The youth must be a part of transforming the African conservation agenda, yet they remain marginalized, poor, uninformed, and disenfranchised. Unemployment has relegated African youth to social, political, and economic exclusion. This has also increased youth vulnerability to political, ecological, and health crises at global and local levels, driving the continued exploitation of natural resources.
A 2019 Ibrahim Forum Report found that over 30 million youth are expected to enter the African labor market annually, yet between 2010-2020 only 4 percent of new entrants between found waged work in industry and 21 percent in waged services. This means that over 18 million jobs need to be generated annually to accommodate young workers instead of the current rate of 3 million jobs per year. At the same time, increased educational and economic opportunities for young people are pivotal to achieving sustainable development. Addressing these multifaceted challenges requires a deliberate strategy that puts African youth at the forefront building their capacity to secure jobs and establishing sustainable enterprises.
Ineffective and disconnected youth networks and movements.
According to research by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, 61 percent of youth networks in Africa are weak in internal capacity, 54 percent are weak in external engagement, and 84 percent are weak in advocacy. AWF’s youth engagement strategy is rooted in the idea of inspiring youth networks and igniting a sense of conservation stewardship in Africa, creating meaningful linkages at the national, pan-African, and global levels. Such connections can help strengthen critical thinking and creativity while mobilizing resources to increase the influence of youth groups in conservation and biodiversity protection.