Sunday, August 10, 2014

Discover how Dayna Noltie, Meds 2017, is engaging young people with biodiversity preservation

I’ve been working on raising awareness about biodiversity among young people since I was in high school – preserving biodiversity is crucial for the future because it maintains healthy ecosystems, provides goods and services, is of cultural importance to indigenous peoples, and for many other reasons.

I was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to attend the Working Group on the Review of Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, held June 16-20 in Montreal this summer.

The Convention on Biological Diversity is a United Nations convention that aims to stop the loss of biodiversity and raise awareness about it. The Working Group on Review of Implementation is a weeklong meeting at which parties review their progress, propose text on how to implement the goals of the Convention better, and negotiate the text.

I participated through the Global Youth Biodiversity Network, which is the official platform for youth participation at the Convention, along with other young people from Germany, Brazil, India, and Ghana. I was a founding member of this network (officially started in August 2012), and working on its growth and progress has been both difficult at times and rewarding. This is the first time a youth delegation has participated at this working group, so it was a milestone for us!

A big aspect of our participation at the working group was making interventions. An intervention is basically a speech a stakeholder group (such as youth, women, or non-governmental organizations) can make, if invited to do so by the chair of the meeting, on the text being negotiated. It might include broad recommendations about what parties to the Convention (countries) should include in the text, or paragraphs the stakeholder group wants inserted in the text. I made interventions with my colleague from Germany during discussions on cooperation between environmental conventions and engagement of stakeholder groups.

We also met with the Executive Secretary of the Convention to discuss progress that has been made by the Global Youth Biodiversity Network, and received his recommendations on our future direction and how to continue growing the network.

We were excited to share that the Network now represents over 300,000 young people through both individual and organization members! We also held a side event (basically an hour long presentation held during the lunch time of the negotiations) about civil society participation in the Convention, which I facilitated.

Biodiversity is vital to the health of people because of the goods and services it provides through ecosystems, the potential for discovery of novel medicines, making beautiful spaces for exercising, purifying the air, and lots of other reasons!

As I progress through medical school, I hope to further integrate and grow my knowledge of biodiversity with my knowledge of medicine, and continue advocating both for young people to have a voice in international negotiations about biodiversity and for the loss of biodiversity to be stopped.

I believe through young people around the world working together, we can protect this vital aspect of our planet and create a healthy future for ourselves and generations to come.

-Dayna Noltie, Meds 2017

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