Kick-off Implementation of the GBF with Youth! The next big step to truly transform our future

18 December 2022 | Montreal, Canada


The Global Youth Biodiversity Network brought together key decision makers, government officials, and youth to identify ways to build and enhance an intergenerational partnership to avoid a repeat of the shortcoming witnessed with the Aichi Targets.

Entering a new decade on the shaky foundations of an ecological crisis comes at the back of the failure to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. None of the 20 targets have been achieved, and 13 show no progress or are moving away from the goal. While the goals were ambitious, they lacked a fair, just, and proper implementation process and the targets missed their mark, leaving future generations extremely vulnerable to degrading ecosystems and handing them a world they had no role in creating.

So far, youth have been overlooked in the Aichi targets and CBD Strategic plans, but as the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) has been demonstrating over the past 12 years, youth can be and are key players whose support can help achieve targets an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF) would set. Within this context, the GYBN convened a side event to further explore these issues. It brought together key decision makers, government officials, and youth to identify ways to build and enhance an intergenerational partnership to avoid a repeat of the shortcoming witnessed with the Aichi Targets.

The event also strove to learn from Aichi’s failure to work toward creating a concrete and equitable implementation process for the GBF. It reflected on what went wrong under the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and identified the way forward by building and enhancing an intergenerational partnership to avoid a repeat of the failure of the Aichi Targets. In addition, GYBN’s work, which has helped the implementation process thus far, was also presented and discussed along with key publications.

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Alexandra Sfez, GYBN

This GYBN side event was moderated by Alexandra Sfez, GYBN. Christian Schwarzer, GYBN, opened the kick-off event with the announcement that youth and the guiding principle of intergenerational equity made it into the draft GBF’s Target 21 and annex, which are nearing completion at CBD COP 15. He urged now focusing on implementation, not lamenting failure later as happened with the Aichi Targets, by pushing negotiators for an ambitious and implementable agreement.

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Christian Schwarzer, GYBN

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility (GEF), recalled youth’s influence in the 1992 Rio Conventions and Agenda 21, commending today’s youth for making much further progress. He noted the biodiversity COP’s increasing political relevance for all decision makers, not just “like-minded environmentalists,” but cautioned that this brings many complexities, making agreement more difficult. He congratulated GYBN for getting language into the draft agreement, urging them to ensure that funding is also agreed for making the systemic change needed. He invited youth to “Help the GEF help you!” through the “whole of government/whole of society” approach, saying the GEF aims to increase its direct funding of civil society activities from 1% to 10% of its total funding. He said the GEF’s “Inclusive Conservation Mandate” window of USD 25 million to Indigenous Peoples sets a precedent for GEF funding to non-state actors and called for a large window prioritizing youth groups under the CBD.

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Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, GEF CEO and Chairperson

Eva Kracht, German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety, and Consumer Protection (BMUV), stressed that implementation is key to achieving the GBF and urged youth to raise its voice. She noted the need for creative and smart young people to work in energy, the finance sector, agriculture, and forestry, to ensure that we do not “leave the future of the world to others.”


Eva Kracht, BMUV, Germany

Naohisa Okuda, Ministry of the Environment, Japan, stated that one of the main focal areas of the Japan Biodiversity Fund (JBF) is to support youth and that the JBF has been collaborating to build youth capacities to engage in the CBD through the creation of 47 youth networks globally. He mentioned that the Ministry of the Environment has recently launched the second phase of the JBF, stressing that to achieve a nature-positive world by 2030 the participation of youth is crucial.

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Naohisa Okuda, Ministry of Environment, Japan

Parneet Kaur, GYBN, by video, presented her poem on the theme of youth’s lament that “what was an abundance for you then is, for us, a privilege now,” ending with the call: “Let’s not let this lead to the death of our generation; let gratitude be your kindness to nature.” 

Melina Sakiyama, GYBN Co-Founder, said while reference to youth in the GBF ensures they have a right to engage, it is “just the beginning” of the work required. She lamented that the intergenerational equity principle has been watered down to a “consideration” in the draft even though the needs of future generations” are key in the 1987 Brundtland Report’s emblematic definition of sustainable development. Noting the world is still inequitable with many forms of debt, including ecological debt, she said youth are at “the bottom of the world’s food chain,” with the world’s wealth “being taken away from us.” She said youth must now hold our governments accountable, by asking: “How are you going to ensure that your National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) is actually going to deliver on rights and equity for all, including women, Indigenous Peoples, and youth?” She called on youth to develop indicators and begin monitoring their contributions to the GBF.

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Melina Sakiyama, GYBN

Participants then visited each of the youth regional chapters through informal dialogues to discuss ideas for implementing the GBF.


Organizers: GYBN, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Contact: Alexandra Sfez, GYBN

For more information:

Written and edited by Tallash Kantai, Vijay Kolinjivadi, PhD, and Deborah Davenport, PhD.

All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For this event, please use: Photo by IISD/ENB | Natalia Mroz

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