On 17‐23 September 2017, the MAB Youth Forum in Italy brought together 282 youth delegates from over 138 Biosphere Reserves in 84 countries, who agreed on a shared vision concerning their engagement in the MAB programme of UNESCO.
It was a part of UNESCO’s efforts to ensure that young women and men are engaged in policies and programmes affecting them, and lead action to promote peace and sustainable development in their countries and communities. It was organized to offer an opportunity for young people who care about the special territories in which they live in to become active in the MAB Programme and to contribute to the sustainable development of their communities, in line with the Lima Action Plan.
In their Final Declaration, the MAB Youth Forum delegates classed as top priority their concern about the urgent need to foster attractive and long-term employment opportunities linked to the intrinsic values of biosphere reserves, such as the conservation of biodiversity and habitat restoration.
The Declaration calls then on the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) to widely disseminate scientific and indigenous knowledge and to support knowledge transmission to future generations.
The young participants made various commitments to be actors of change in their territories by organizing events with their local communities on diverse cultural, environmental and economic issues, and by training and encouraging more young people to be active in their biosphere reserves. They call for improved exchange of information, ideas, knowledge and good practice in the Biosphere Reserves, especially through tools that stimulate the involvement of young people. They also call on the MAB Programme to improve communication, at all levels, in order to be more effective with young people.
The Way Forward
Since the present biennium (2018-2019), all programmes of UNESCO have been requested to consider their possible contribution to the implementation of the Operational Strategy on Youth (2014 – 2021), which provides a framework for constructive partnerships to be developed with and between youth organizations and youth-related stakeholders.
Thanks to the organization and holding of the first ever MAB Youth Forum in September 2017, and the decisions which could be made today for a proper follow-up within the programme’s structures, strategies and actions (including its WNBR), the MAB Programme holds a unique opportunity to strengthen its contribution to the Operational Strategy on Youth in all its axes, while boosting the contribution of MAB Youth to the implementation of the Lima Action Plan and to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
2017 MAB Youth Forum Organizing Committee
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