Youth engagement in the UN Biodiversity Conference Part 1

Youth actively participated in the first part of the UN Biodiversity Conference, held virtually from 11 to 15 October 2021.

Coordinated by the Global Youth Biodiversity Network, youth delivered a statement to COP 15 at the opening of the meetings on 11 October.

Youth also participated in the High-level Segment (HLS), which focused on the theme of “Ecological Civilization—Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth”. Representatives of the the Global Youth Biodiversity Network delivered two statements during the High-Level Segment Plenary and Final Plenary, on 12 and 13 October 2021, respectively. Consult GYBN social media outlets to have an overview of youth engagement throughout the UN Biodiversity Conference.

Watch Josefa Cariño Tauli, Young Indigenous Leader and GYBN Steering Committee member, deliver her Statement to the High-Level Segment of CBD COP 15 on 12 October 2021, and read her statement:

Statement by Josefa Cariño Tauli delivered to the High-Level Segment of CBD COP 15, 12 October 2021

Mapteng jen akew son sikayon emin. Good day to everyone. My name is Josefa Tauli, and I am an Ibaloi-Kankanaey Igorot from the Cordillera Region in the Philippines. I speak to you today as a young person, as an Indigenous person and as a woman, in a space that makes big decisions about our future but remains out of reach for so many of the people who are most affected.

Dear delegates, a heavy responsibility rests on your shoulders to deliver on commitments upon which life on earth depends. And in this period that calls for nothing less than urgent, transformative action, today my question to you is, who are you? And are you who you need to be?

Who are we as human beings? Are we who we need to be? In the mountains of the Cordillera where I come from, our communities take pride in our connection to the land. In a place where we believe that Land is Life, every day, members of the community till the soil, grow healthy food, avoid waste, and pass down values of care and reciprocity to the youth. We work hard to care for the land, defend the land, as if life itself depended on it, because it does. We are peoples who are a part of nature, with a place among all other species. As a human being, like my community, I want to become someone who cares for the land that sustains me, because it is my responsibility to all other life and the next generation. Who are we as human beings? Are we who we need to be?

Who are you as decision-makers? Are you who you need to be? Just last week, in a historic moment, the Human Rights Commission recognized for the first time that having a clean, safe, healthy, and sustainable environment is indeed, a human right. A decision that we hope will turn into action, into dignity, into justice and respect for the environment and those who defend it. Among you are many key decision-makers, in governments, in UN Bodies, in organizations. Are you a transformative leader, brave enough to stop the same empty promises and shallow solutions? Or will you carry on the unsustainable status quo that brought us here? Who are you as decision-makers? Are you who you need to be?

Who are you as a future ancestor to the next generation? Are you who you need to be? I have spoken to fellow young people who, like me, carry a heavy feeling of dread for the future. A feeling that grows as headline after headline of wildfires, extinctions, rising temperatures, corruption, and rights violations appear on the news. But I am inspired by many youth, who despite the fear and frustration and the many challenges, find it in ourselves to hope, to act, to persist, and to resist. In the same spirit of many generations, movements and communities before us who refused to stay silent in the face of injustice, young people of today continue to rally together our voices, in the streets, in policy spaces, on the ground to leave a legacy of change. Because what got us here won't take us forward. Who are you as a future ancestor, and are you who you need to be?

A caring and respectful human being. Someone who makes decisions they can be proud of. And a mindful future ancestor to the next generation. I may not be there yet, but I will keep learning striving to be who I need to be.

And so, I ask again dear delegates. In this key moment in history when we are face to face with intersecting social and environmental crises, who are you as a human being? as a decision-maker? as a future ancestor? Are you really who you need to be?

I urge you to be the leaders we need you to be.

Thank you all for your attention. Iyaman ken dakayo am-in.

Josefa Cariño Tauli