The world is embarking on a green transition, and countries, NGOs, civil society and the private sector have accepted the need for a shift towards an environmentally sustainable and climate-friendly planet. Wetlands are a key part of this transition, which takes place against the backdrop of the triple planetary crises and rapid technological advancements.
In the face of a changing world, the voices and insights of youth, as well as their flexibility, creativity and passion will be needed to navigate our way forward. They are the ones who can develop the skills needed for a green future.
Many nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches to climate change demand new ways of thinking, new technology and complex environmental thinking. Young people are not bound to old ways of thinking and engage with technology and the digital world intuitively. They can rapidly speed up this transition.
The Convention on Wetlands has taken significant steps towards this with the passing of a Resolution at COP 14 on youth engagement and the support provided by the Secretary General and the Secretariat towards youth engagement.
Youth Engaged in Wetlands (YEW) have become a welcome voice at meetings of the Convention and have helped support the Youth Working Group of the Convention. The Secretariat and YEW have organised two workshops engaging with wetland youth globally, funded by Canada. This has fed into a work plan, which Is currently being finalised.
Many countries are following suit. I am aware of efforts across all Regions of the Convention including funding of youth-led wetland projects, creating youth advisory groups for projects, creating youth positions on environmental water management boards and appointing youth focal points to the Convention.
These activities have started a shift in wetland conservation globally. But, there is still much to do. Youth need training and opportunities to develop the skills required for a green future. This includes placements, scholarships, paid opportunities and meaningful engagement.
The Convention on Wetlands, its International Organisation Partners and some Contracting Parties have begun this work, and I am hopeful that this marks the start of a transition towards meaningful change.
Dylan Jones, Chair of the Youth Working Group