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Top 100 Young African Conservation Leaders’ List 2021

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NAIROBI, KENYA (March 23, 2021) — One hundred youth from 23 countries in Africa have been recognized today as the top youth leaders in conservation in the continent. This is the first-ever Top 100 young African conservation leaders list, a collaboration between the Africa Alliance of YMCAs, World Organization of the Scout Movement, African Wildlife Foundation, and WWF to empower the efforts of young, talented Africans and inspire other youth in leading the way to ensure nature and people will thrive for generations to come. These exceptional young men and women have proven to be leading lights for sustainable development of the continent.

The youth have been advocating and creating a huge, positive impact in sustainable agriculture and food security, forest and land restoration, ocean protection, wildlife conservation, waste management, clean energy access and research, education and awareness. These top 100 youth and many more who did not make it to the list have demonstrated that the youngest generations are not the future, but the present driver for change in Africa.

Among these selected top 100 young African leaders, there are youth who have started their community-based organizations to build the capacity of local populations on conservation issues in addition to pursuing research on endangered species and using the information to further strengthen their conservation initiatives. Others have tapped into their hobbies, such as sports, to create awareness and act to protect and conserve nature through tree planting, clean-up campaigns, or recycling initiatives.

Millions of post-consumed plastics have been recovered from the environment, creating job opportunities, especially for women and youth, and indirectly met the social and economic needs of thousands of households. Others have been at the forefront of advocacy campaigns leading to national and international policy interventions targeting key conventions, including CITES (Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species) and the CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity).

Thanks to some of these youth, vast areas of forest reserves have been restored in the continent and cooperative movements have emerged to promote the equitable and sustainable use of the natural resources and to create value addition of agricultural products, helping communities earn more income from their produce. Moreover, there are youth leaders who have set up their own eco-companies and have provided green jobs for many more. In short, these top 100 youth are leading extraordinary stories of impact.

In the selection process, youth networks and conservation organizations were invited to nominate young African leaders under the age of 35 who are actively involved in impactful conservation work at community, national, or international levels in Africa. A total of 565 nominations were received from 425 conservation organizations and youth networks. The submission underwent a rigorous judging and verification process before we came out with the Top 100 Young African Conservation Leaders list.

In addition to being recognized in the first-ever publication of its kind, the Top 100 Young African Conservation Leaders will be the beneficiaries of a bespoke one-year leadership development program that will mentor them with systems thinking and practical skills to scale-up their initiatives.

Join us in celebrating and recognising the work of these 100 young African leaders by amplifying their voice and spreading their stories which can be found at Top100Youth.Africa.

For more information or interviews with the partnering organizations or the youth, please contact us at

About Africa Alliance of YMCAs

The Africa Alliance of YMCAs is the umbrella body of YMCA National Movements in Africa. Together with our member YMCAs in 20 countries in Africa, we work to empower young African men and women with voice space and ability to influence the holistic transformation of their communities, nation and the continent.

About African Wildlife Foundation

The African Wildlife Foundation is the primary advocate for the protection of wildlife and wild lands as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa. Founded in 1961 to focus on Africa’s conservation needs, we articulate a uniquely African vision, bridge science and public policy, and demonstrate the benefits of conservation to ensure the survival of the continent’s wildlife and wild lands.

About World Organization of the Scout Movement

Scouting is the world’s leading educational youth movement engaging 54 million young people, adult leaders and volunteers in 224 countries and territories worldwide. As a growing Movement, Scouting is deeply embedded in local communities, responding to the diverse needs and aspirations of young people. Since its founding in 1907, Scouting has engaged young people in transformative education, training and learning opportunities. Scouting offers young people a unique non-formal educational experience that directly contributes to their growth and development.

About WWF

WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries and territories. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.