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Global trade and economic growth over the last half century have driven huge improvements in health and living standards but also undermined the stability of the Earth’s natural systems and exacerbated global inequality. The 2020 Living Planet Index shows that global populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish have suffered an average 68% decline in less than half a century (from 1970 to 2016). The main cause of this dramatic decline is habitat loss and degradation, including deforestation, driven by how we as humanity produce food. Nature powers industry and enterprise but we are using up ‘natural capital’ and degrading natural systems faster than nature can replenish and restore them, exceeding Earth’s overall bio capacity by 58% according to Ecological Foot printing.

According to the World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2020, the top five most pressing challenges facing Africa and the world over the next decade are, for the first time, all related to the environment, and include biodiversity loss and climate change. Failure to tackle nature’s decline will increase nature-related risks, further disrupt supply chains, threaten global food security, and cost the global economy at least $479 billion a year – amounting to $10 trillion by 2050. Our economies are embedded within nature but economics do not recognize that human health, wealth and security depend on safeguarding environmental health, according to the forthcoming Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity. The 2030 Agenda is rooted in the idea that human development and well-being cannot be achieved without simultaneously safeguarding and investing in nature and managing disaster risk in a systemic manner – otherwise development gains will be short-lived and unevenly distributed.

Despite its challenges, the year 2020 represented a turning point that must be understood by the youth and civil society as an opportunity to speak out on three fronts and act for the changes they wish to see in the system.

The recent outbreak of COVID-19 and recently, its variances represent the latest in an unfortunately growing list of disasters confronting humanity. The COVID-19 pandemic in Africa and the world is not only a challenge for global health systems, but also a test of our human spirit. Its social and economic impacts have been creating a global crisis unparalleled in the history of the United Nations—and one which requires a whole-of-society response to match its sheer scale and complexity.

In 2020, as part of its engagement for ecosystems restoration African network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development which has set the New Deal for Nature and People Coalition has implemented in partnership with WWF three projects namely African youth and civil society resilience initiatives against COVID19 and Pandemics; African Youths and Civil Society Green Growth Hub: From the pandemic to 2030 Agenda and Enhancement of the understanding and engagement of African youths  towards the biodiversity COP.

Under the leadership of African network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development which has set the New Deal for Nature and People Coalition, African youths and civil society organizations have drafted and started the implementation of two regional position papers on COVID19 and pandemics and towards a strong post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework for a green growth resumption in Africa and in the world. Among key recommandations formulated by youths and civil society, we can highlight:

  1. the necessity of the involvement and engagement of Governments in a New Deal for Nature and People as a globally binding agreement to halve our footprint on nature; stop the loss of natural habitats and to top the extinction of living species;
  2. the mainstreaming of young people-championed elements from a gender perspective in the Post-2020 Framework focusing on intergenerational equity, human rights and the rights of nature, transformative education and the promotion of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament;
  3. the importance of strengthened multilateralism: Develop a whole -of-society coordinated approach and accelerate implementation of the “New Way of Working” mobilizing all the stakeholders and taking into account all the layers and sectors in the implementation of innovative measures at different levels;
  4. the imperative of more synergies and alignment between the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework with other biodiversity-related multilateral agreements, processes and instruments (UNCCD, UNFCC; Ramsar; Future BBNJ, CITES etc.) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development so as to enable the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework systematically cross-maps its goals and targets and seeks to reinforce synergies in implementation and enabling conditions;
  5. The urgency to greening the financial sector (economics of biodiversity) – integrating environmental issues to support the post 2020 implementation framework and enabling conditions for resilience and transformative change;
  6. The importance of a High-level leadership and a whole-of-government approach mobilizing all the layers of the society including private sector and civil society towards a Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework based on transparency, accountability monitoring and reporting.

African youths are disproportionately affected by environmental issues plaguing the continent: Desertification, pollution, erosion, overexploitation of natural resources such as forest and water, among others hampers prosperity and economic development. Addressing the aforementioned challenges requires the increased involvement of youths who are key players for the implementation of the recommendations (embedded in the regional position papers) they have drafted as part of the New Deal for Nature and People Coalition. Youth and Civil Society have a role in transiting from unwitting perpetrators of environmental degradation to custodians of natural capital. Such a changeover will potentially result in sustainability benefits like green jobs and contribute to ensure the future of Next generations. To this effect, African Network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development will implement the project: COPs in Africa.

COPs in Africa

Though Africa is the continent most affected by environmental issues, any country of the continent has been selected to organize a Conference of Parties on biodiversity, climate or land. Yet, Africa has a vibrant youth and civil society that have been striving for nature, for us, for nature and climate. COPs in Africa aims to be an annual online and offline gathering of capacity building and mentorship of African Youth and civil society towards the various COPs. It is the expression of the will of African youth and civil society, to see those COP be implemented in their countries and continent.    

Objective of the COPs in Africa

Strengthen youth and civil society contributions, engagement towards the 15th CBD COP, the 15th UNCCD COP and the 26th UNFCCC COP

Specific objectives

  • Build the capacity of youth and civil society in advocacy and negotiations for Nature and climate.
  • Take stock of the state of implementation of the recommendations of the precedent COPs (CBD, UNCCD and UNFCCC) and develop the contribution of youth and African civil society on major planetary issues related to nature and climate.
  • Analyze the actions implemented or to be planned to produce the expected impacts of the recommendations of the declarations and position papers of African Youths Leaders and civil society declaration against COVID19 and pandemics and the post 2020 biodiversity framework;
  • Ensure better coordination of the New Deal for Nature and People Coalition of Youth and Civil Society’s contributions in the process of drawing up a common position in relation to the 15th CBD COP, the 15th UNCCD COP and the 26th UNFCCC COP, as well as the monitoring of the implementation of the recommendations of the declarations and position papers of African Youths Leaders and civil society declaration against COVID19 and pandemics and the post 2020 biodiversity framework;
  • Share experience and ideas on what could be done to minimize the negative impact of the COVID 19 pandemic and possibly identify viable strategies likely to help actors and stakeholders to step up the new deal for nature and people vision.

Methodology of intervention:

COPs in Africa will be first implemented at country level through physical gatherings and consultations before being implemented at regional level by a certified regional webinar that will be fed by local events.

Implementation period: June 14 -19,2021

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