Tag Archives: Youth

Engaging Youth to Conserve Coastal and Marine Environments

By Kerstin Forsberg

As I write this article, my country, Peru, is experiencing one of its greatest natural disasters of all time. Due to a phenomenon known locally as the coastal El Niño, intense warm ocean currents have caused heavy rainfall in some parts of the country, which led to flooding and landslides that have severely impacted the lives of over a million people.

Many assert that these types of natural phenomena can be intensified by climate change, while sceptics claim that there is still not enough data to justify this. By now, however, there should be a consensus that humanity intrinsically depends on the ocean, and it is thus our obligation to protect it. The ocean is our planet’s main life source. Two out of three breaths we take are oxygenated by the ocean. It defines our climate and provides food security. A healthy ocean guarantees subsistence and survival. We would think that such a critical notion should be embraced and preached by all, but that is not the case.

The severe disregard that people show the ocean came to my attention at an early age. In 2007, I was a 22-year-old undergraduate student researching threatened sea turtles in northern Peru. After observing the increasing mortality of these species, I approached schools in fishing communities to inquire about their initiatives in marine education. To my surprise, these issues were not being addressed by the local education system.

Soon after, realizing that there was an urgent need to connect people to the ocean, I founded Planeta Océano, a non-profit organization that empowers coastal communities through marine conservation, research, education and sustainable economic development. We also established the Marine Educators Network, with over 50 schools in Peru, to incorporate marine issues into education systems in a cross­cutting manner. With this network we have built capacity in educational institutions, developed game-based learning and engaged thousands of students in youth-led initiatives that positively impact their communities.

The network also provides youth with training in marine conservation, project development and leadership. Participants identify local environmental challenges, and receive technical and financial support to work towards solutions. To date, over 400 young people have been engaged in youth-led initiatives ranging from mangrove reforestation to advocating for sustainable fisheries, among others.

In addition to this incubator of young conservationists, we have involved youth in all Planeta Océano programmes. Youth act as ‘citizen scientists’ and are taught how to carry out research, collecting data to benefit fisheries management and threatened species, and how to help promote sustainable economic activities, such as ecotourism. At Planeta Océano, youth start as volunteers, but over time they can access leadership positions and assist in the management of activities, projects and programmes. Youth can also help guide design strategies and agendas, and engage with stakeholder groups, including fishermen, schools, businesses and authorities.

This approach has allowed us to reach over 500,000 people in Peru and enhance the personal and professional development of hundreds of youth. It has sparked multiplier effects and ownership in local communities, since messaging comes from youth community members themselves. Together with youth we are changing how marine environments are perceived. We are contributing to local success stories, such as that of Josué Granda, the 4-year-old who helped his sister volunteer in our sea turtle research programme, and who now-at 14 years of age-leads a popular environmental club in his community. Another success story involves Edgardo Cruz, the fisherman who captured a vulnerable manta ray yet later became an ambassador for manta ray conservation. Youth have become key actors in achieving legal protection for threatened manta rays, and reported new scientific evidence in support of sea turtle and elasmobranch conservation, among other activities.

As a young entrepreneur once myself, my journey with Planeta Océano has allowed me to witness the huge potential of young people in conservation and sustainable development. It has shown me the importance of engaging youth not only as participants and collaborators, but also as genuine strategic partners.

Youth are already coming up with creative solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.1 Thus, tapping into youth-a population of around 1.8 billion people worldwide-and their energy and potential for innovation and creativity is extremely timely. Despite global goals urging greater conservation efforts,2 only 3 per cent of the world’s ocean is protected;3 overfishing and eco­system degradation jeopardize food security; and sea level rise endangers the well-being of coastal communities. Nevertheless, young people remain one of our largest untapped resources for advancing the global marine conservation agenda.

This is where scaling marine education becomes critical for harnessing the potential of youth. Marine education can provide young people with the skills, tools and perspectives necessary to conserve marine environments.

If we want to further engage youth in marine conservation, however, we also need a broader systemic change. This includes, for example, further incorporating youth leadership and counselling into local, national and international institutions; increasing connections between youth and relevant stakeholders; and boosting funding for qualified youth leaders. Moreover, we need to engage entire communities—women, teachers, fishermen and children—in the design, implementation and monitoring of conservation and management efforts at every stage of these processes.

It has been 10 years since my team and I started working in the field of marine conservation. As I look back, I recognize the impact that education, partnerships and support have had on our own early career development and on our community. In the same way, engaging more youth and a greater number of local communities can promote positive change, help overcome environmental challenges and enhance effective strategies for conservation worldwide.

Furthermore, by engaging youth and coastal communities, we can also bring people together, fostering good citizenship, peace and pride, and ultimately, building communities of optimism and hope. This is exactly what marine conservation and our world finally need.

For more information on Planeta Océano, visit www.planetaoceano.org.

Notes

1       For more information on youth Initiatives, see YouthActionNet website. Available from http://www.youthactionnet.org. For more information on youth entrepreneurs, see Forbes website. Available from www.forbes.com/30-under-30-2016/social-entrepreneurs/.

2       Louisa J. Wood and others, “Assessing progress towards global marine protection targets: shortfalls in information and action”, Oryx, vol. 42, No.3 (July 2008), 340-351.

3       For more Information, see Marine Protected Areas Atlas. Available from http://www.mpatlas.org/.

 

Author bio:

Kerstin Forsberg is Director of Planeta Océano, Peru.

The Sustainable Development Goals: a learning process for private sector, local authorities, the youth and Librarians in the country.

The United Nations Youth Association of Zambia, Chingola Chapter organized a series of discussions on the SDGs with focus on Goal 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable in Chingola, while the other was organized through the Library Association of Zambia (LIAZ). These discussions took place from June 18 through July 21, 2016 at Icon Hotel in Chingola and Fatmols Executive Lodge in Ndola respectively.

The SDGs

The SDGs

The first discussion had youths from different backgrounds in attendance, including students at tertiary level and those in both formal and informal business. During this session they were given a general overview of the SDGs and specific information on goal 11 and its impact on the city of Chingola was given by Charles Nonde, Team Assistant UNIC Lusaka.

Mr, Zulu, Director of Planning at the Chingola City Council, shared some insight in the practical things that the council is doing in realizing SDG 11. He said that the council has partnered with UNEP and will be constructing an energy efficient and sustainable building in the centre of Chingola that will act as a show piece and example for promoting modern day buildings that are also sustainable. He also explained that the council was in the process of obtaining solar street lights and have them installed in various locations of the city as a way of averting the current power deficit being faced countrywide.

Mr. Sakala a private sector ICT entrepreneur who runs an entity called Net Innovation Enterprise in Chingola gave a presentation on how they are incorporating the SDGs as part of their operating strategy and promoting good sustainable business practices.

The Library Association of Zambia (LIAZ) holds its annual general conference in July, this year it was from 19th to 21st July 2016, and extended an invitation to the centre to present on the SDGs and how Librarians and other information professionals can help achieve them through their various channels. A presentation was done by Charles Nonde, Team Assistant together with the LIAZ President Mrs. Velenasi Munsanje. The conference with attended by 80 librarians from different institutions countrywide, encompassing academic and professional bodies.

Information professionals were reminded that libraries make an important contribution to development, it was also highlighted that economic development can be broadened so that it now involves not only the reduction in poverty, inequality and unemployment but also to an improvement in the quality of life which includes a cleaner environment, better education, good health and nutrition.

In our knowledge society, libraries provide access and opportunity for all. Libraries guarantee access to information, a cross-cutting target that supports all SDGs said the LIAZ President.

While SDGs are universal goals, each country is responsible for developing and implementing national strategies in order to achieve them. The relevance of libraries and other specialized units is key to creating awareness and promoting the SDGs by aligning themselves to the specifics of the SDGs.

Mr. Nonde, emphasized that libraries have the responsibility of transforming our world
increasing access to information and knowledge across the society, assisted by the availability of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), supports sustainable development and improves people’s lives

The UN Zambia in celebrates 68 years of existence

The UN in Zambia celebrated 68 years of existence with a string of activities from October 18 to 29th 2013. Under the UN4U umbrella a discussion was organized and conducted at the University of Zambia, Great East Road Campus.

UN Concert: LtoR Second Lady Charlotte Scott, UN Resident Coordinator Kanni Wignaraja and First Lady Dr Christine Kaseba-Sata, sing the theme song for the concert "Youth Arise"

UN Concert: LtoR Second Lady Charlotte Scott, UN Resident Coordinator Kanni Wignaraja and First Lady Dr Christine Kaseba-Sata, sing the theme song for the concert “Youth Arise”

The UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia, Ms. Kanni Wignaraja had a discussion with 300 students on the work of the United Nations, Post 2015 Campaign and Acceleration of the MDGs and the signature issues for 2014-2015 in Zambia under the themes “state of inequalities” and “the condition of young people” all focusing on the youth on Oct 18, 2013. Bulk sms was also used to inform the general public on this significant day in the United Nations by reaching out to 100, 000 mobile subscribers who received some “did you know” facts about the UN.

A free concert was organized at the Barclays Sports Complex that was graced by the first lady Dr. Christine Kaseba-Sata and second lady Ms. Charlotte Scott. The concert was dubbed “A young Zambia Arise”. Some of Zambia’s renowned artists performed and educated the mostly youthful audience on the MDGs and post 2015 agenda as a way of raising awareness, about 500 people attended the free concert.

A formal event took place at the Taj Pamodzi Hotel on October 29, 2013, with the UNDP’s Goodwill Ambassador His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway; the Vice President of Republic of Zambia, Dr Guy Scott, M.P; the First President, Dr Kenneth Kaunda; the First Lady, Dr Christine Kaseba-Sata; Chiefteness Nkomeshya, the Guest of Honor the Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Wilbur Simuusa; Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and senior government officials present, the High Commissioners and Ambassadors and other cooperating partners of the UN where also in attendance.

In his remarks the Crown Prince expressed his gratitude at the work that the UN is doing in Zambia and the strides it is making through the various partnerships with government and other cooperating partners, he also reaffirmed

his country’s continued support to the United Nations and the Republic of Zambia.

The out-going Resident Coordinator Ms. Kanni Wignaraja gave a special thanks to the Government and the People of Zambia for their unwavering commitment and support to the United Nations and for its resilience in shaping the future it wants. 250 guest were in attendance.

UN ZAMBIA Joint Statement on World Population Day

World Population Day, commemorated each year on July 11 July, brings to the fore the demographic trends, dividends and challWorld Population Day 2013enges that impact societies the world over. The theme for this year is ‘adolescent pregnancy’. This is a topic that affects us all as policy makers, parents, teachers, students and friends.

Globally, too many of the estimated 16 million teenage girls who give birth each year never had the opportunity to plan their pregnancy.

In Zambia, over 30% of 15-19 year old girls have already been pregnant or have had a child. This is an alarming rate of pregnancy among adolescents. Zambia’s 2013 MDG Report indicates early marriage and adolescent pregnancy as two main triggers for the high maternal mortality rate in the country. 42% of Zambian women are married before the age of 18. Thirty eight mothers die each month due to complications relating to pregnancy and child birth. And many of these mothers are teenagers. Unsafe abortions, obstetric fistula, hemorrhage and malnutrition often result in young mothers facing a heightened risk of maternal complications, death and disability. Their children, even when surviving birth, face higher risks as well.

“Adolescent pregnancy is an abrupt disruption to education, and an end to childhood.

Keeping girls safe and in secondary school, enforcing laws that deter early marriage and harshly punish rape, and the active promotion and access to birth control and reproductive health education – this is what will break this cycle” said Kanni Wignaraja, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative.

Education and staying in school plays a major role in changing this situation. It creates awareness, it delays marriage and childbearing, and it reduces the otherwise high fertility rate. A Zambian woman with no formal education has a fertility rate of 8; with one year of secondary this halves to 4; and then it halves again to 2.4 with one year of tertiary education. This pattern also correlates with infant and child health. The better the education of the mother, the healthier the child. Good quality reproductive health services that cover family planning and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, must be readily available in order for adolescent boys and girls to make informed and healthy choices about the onset of sexual relations, pregnancy and child spacing.

On this World Population Day, the UN in Zambia calls on the government and all stakeholders to help make the right public policy choices and to invest resources in the education, health and wellbeing of adolescent girls. Every young girl, regardless of where she lives, her economic or social circumstances, has the right to enjoy and fulfill her potential. Today, too many girls in Zambia and across the world are denied that right. We can change that.