Macoun Marsh and the International Decade for Biodiversity
By Michael Leveille (Executive Director of Biodiversitymatters)
Our project has achieved the following goals:
- Fundraising $100,000 to build an Outdoor Classroom and develop an environmental area at the Macoun Marsh (South east corner of Beechwood Cemetery), used by school children from across the Ottawa region.
- Promoting our prototype project nationally. In 2008, science teachers from across Canada visited our study site, and were encouraged to participate in similar projects with their students.
- Connecting with Daniel Bisaccio from Brown University (Through the CBD) who developed the First Youth Symposium for Biodiversity in Mexico in 2005. Youth from 9 countries attended.
- Creating Biodiversitymatters and hosting the 2nd International Youth Symposium in Ottawa. We invited projects from 10 countries to participate- Albania, Barbados, Bolivia, Cameroon, Canada, Honduras, India, Japan, Mexico, and USA. Over $70,000 was fundraised for the Symposium, and youth involved promoted it nationally and internationally through a variety of media, including television, radio, newspapers and the Internet. In 2008, five Canadian youths attended TUNZA in Norway to promote our work and invite delegates to attend the Symposium.
- Our Symposium team developed a wide array of events, workshops, team building activities, special guests from all levels of government including the CBD.
- Creating the Youth Accord for Biodiversity, which has been translated into 25 languages and has over 5000 signatures of support from 83 countries. The Accord was written by youth from Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Uganda and USA. The Accord was presented at major venues. One youth was flown to Belgium by the European Union for a Green Week event to promote our work. The Accord can also be successfully be adapted to any level of government – Our New Brunswick members helped to create the New Brunswick Youth Biodiversity Accord which has received 15 endorsements from youth and citizen-based groups from around the province.
- Attending and participating in COP10, where our Accord was presented, and where one of our members was invited to the High Level segments and had the opportunity to share our work with Ministers/ leaders. We communicated COP10 issues and produced an Accord poster to help raise awareness. Our Accord can be used in schools to develop policy and programs by youth. 8 members (+2 Chaperons) of our team were accredited and financed by us to participate at COP10, connecting to other international groups, such as the new organization GYBO (Global Youth and Biodiversity Organisation). The International Youth Statement on Biodiversity developed in Nagoya was in-part developed out of our original Youth Accord described above. Several of the same authors developed the new document.
- Developing a communication blog for international youth at Biodiversitymatters.org. Other recent groups we are connected with include youth from Australia, Panama, Spain, Tanzania, and Uganda.
- Helping to develop a pre-COP11 event in Auroville India for 2012, named the Third Youth Symposium for Biodiversity.
- We also continue to develop local events for youth here in Ottawa, Canada.
The Honourable Mauril Bélanger recently commented, “It has often been said, rightfully, that today’s youth represent our future. It is therefore very encouraging to see young people engaged in protecting and promoting biodiversity. May you be successful!”
We believe all youth need to be given a chance to voice their concerns. They are not only the voice of the future but they are also certainly the voice of today.
- David Suzuki
As politicians focus on voters for impending elections and corporate executives on the quarterly report, decisions are being made with consequences that reverberate well into the adult lives of today's youth. Yet young people don't vote and their future is seldom a part of political and corporate discussions. One consequence is declining quality of air, water, soil and biodiversity that we are leaving for coming generations. That's why youth are being informed and motivated about the important issues that will affect their lives.”