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Malagasy youth are committed to biodiversity

By the end of this "super year 2020", a New Global Framework for Biodiversity will be adopted by the world community at the upcoming fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-15) of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) so that we all have to agree on how we are going to manage our biodiversity, whether we are members of government, industry, NGOs, private citizens, adults or ... young people.

For indeed, what is decided today will be felt tomorrow by the present and future generations of young people.To reach its vision by 2050 of "living in harmony with nature", and to achieve its three main goals of (i) conserving biological diversity, (ii) ensuring the sustainable use of biodiversity and its components, and (iii) ensuring the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits generated by using genetic resources, the CBD launched a 10-year strategic plan in 2010 composed of the 20 Aichi Targets. Despite of all stakeholders' efforts, biodiversity is being degraded at an alarming rate, exacerbating the socio-economic challenges we are facing.

The Aichi targets were not reached and have expired. To correct the situation, a new, better, more ambitious, and more effective strategic plan must be decided and will become the New Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (Post2020 GBF). Thus, between two COPs, intensive formal and informal negotiations and advocacy have already started in which, each actor tries to reflect its position and interests in the new framework. Since the end of 2019, Malagasy Youth Biodiversity Network (Malagasy YBN) has been attending several international negociations, participating in the development of the national position and initiating a series of Malagasy youth consultations on the Post2020 GBF that will contribute to the global youth position through the Global Youth Biodiversity Network.

On 17 and 18 February, with TAFO MIAHHAVO (Tambazontran'ny Fokonolona Mitantana Harena Voajanahary), Malagasy YBN organized a national consultation of local communities and youth on the Zero Draft of the Post2020 GBF. The Zero Draft is the first version of the new strategic plan, proposed by the CBD Secretariat on the basis of consultation with ratifying countries and other stakeholders. An initial document relating the position of young Malagasy people on the Zero Draft Post2020 will widely be published soon, open for comments, and continuously updated with other upcoming consultations.
Generally, the  interest of youth is focused on the sustainability and equity aspect of the framework to ensure a better impact for future and younger generations. These interests relate to the area of accountability, improving the quality of education, integrating young people and other groups, making the framework consistent with the realities of the country, and promoting quality management for biodiversity.

For Malagasy youth, the structure of the Post2020 GBF should use simple, clear, short, engaging language expressing the purpose of each objective to facilitate its understanding, implementation and ownership by all actors. Young people also strongly emphasized that the framework should adopt and concretely reflect a rights-based approach as a whole in order to guarantee the fundamental human rights to a healthy, safe, and sustainable environment, ensure the rights of nature to abandon the raw ownership approach, ensure access to environmental information, the protection of environmental advocates, as well as the effective participation of local populations, women and youth.

In the interest of sustainability, young people pointed to the need of strengthening the sections of the framework concerning the process of monitoring its implementation and vigilance against the phenomenon of "paper parks". For us, efforts to conserve and restore ecosystems must never be separated from the quality of management carried out at the level of each site, since the establishment of protected area status is not an end but only a step. We also advocated flexibility in determining the percentage of biodiversity-rich areas under strict conservation because local communities live in the majority of these areas.

Naturally, the focus has been on intergenerational justice, the essence of the concept of sustainable development, so that it is a goal in its own right. Intergenerational justice recognizes that all generations share common and differentiated responsibilities in ensuring a healthy planet for each generation. Thus, it is a reminder that today's decision-makers are accountable for their choices and recognize, respect, hear and enable the younger generations to be integrated into decision-making processes at all levels.

Education and traditional knowledge have also been at the heart of the concerns of young people, hence a proposal to reformulate one of the objectives of the education framework in favour of a transformative education that includes at all school levels the themes of biodiversity, sustainability and cultural heritage, and that has a conservative character of traditional knowledge.

The preliminary results of this consultation were returned to the MEDD and other stakeholders on 18 of February and we received interesting feedback that we will integrate in our position and strategy. As a follow-up, we plan to develop an advocacy strategy and an action plan to obtain the establishment of mechanisms or programmes for capacity building, provision of resources, and integration of young people in decision-making processes.

Sanda Anjara Rakotomalala, Malagasy Youth Biodiversity Network