Flyway Youth Forum 2020
The first-ever Flyway Youth Forum, organized by The East Asian – Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) and Youth Engaged in Wetlands (YEW)was held virtually with about 140 participants over two consecutive weekends from 28th November to 6th December, 2020. Young people were connected and empowered through Youth presentations, a series of five training workshops on Youth Advocacy in Global Policy Agendas, Effective Campaigning, Local community Engagement, Field Research & Monitoring and Environmental Justice, and provided with a platform for dialogue during the Flyway World Café. At the end of the Forum, the “Declaration of the 2020 Flyway Youth Forum Participants” drafted by the youth participants was delivered.
The Flyway Youth Forum was aimed to connect, empower and provide a platform for dialogue for future youth leaders focusing conservation of wetlands and migratory waterbirds in and beyond the East Asian – Australasian Flyway. In the time of COVID-19 pandemic, it is a stark reminder of our relationship with nature and the future of the world. And because the future will be led by the next generation, youth should be involved and engaged in decision-making processes and implementation of actions.
This event has engaged a total of 87 youth participants from EAAFlyway who are enthusiastic to contribute to wetlands and migratory waterbirds conservation. The Forum led to fruitful discussion and exchange of information and experiences from trainers, speakers and among the youth. At the end of the Forum, the youth participants released the Declaration of the 2020 Flyway Youth Forum, which conveyed common key messages for the need of engaging youth in decision making, active participation in conservation and empowerment.
Summary of the participants
A total number of 134 attendees, including 28 trainers, speakers and facilitators, and 87 selected youth leaders (ages of 18 and 30 years old) from 26 countries or regions have been selected and participated in the forum, with diverse backgrounds as follows:
Programme Information (download)
Day 1 : Opening Ceremony & Youth Presentation
On Day 1, we were honored to invite two awe-inspiring Keynote Speakers in the Opening Ceremony, Dr. Jane Goodall, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and Roots & Shoots USA, as well as Ms. Martha Urrego, Secretary General of The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Mr. Doug Watkins, Chief Executive of the EAAFP Secretariat gave a welcoming remarks. The ceremony ended with an enjoyable music performance titled “Migratory Birds”, a song created by 5 singers from Myanmar and produced by Nature Conservation Society-Myanmar. After the opening ceremony, Representatives of EAAFP and YEW gave a presentation to brief about wetlands and migratory waterbirds as well as introducing EAAFP and YEW to the audience.
Then, a “Youth Presentation” session was held which includes eight inspiring presentations by youth presenters, who are enthusiastic on conservation of wetlands and migratory waterbirds. They are: Vandandorj Sumiya from Wildlife Science and Conservation Center of Mongolia, Takuma Satoh from Youth Ramsar Japan, Team SPOON, Jord Gadingan from Sa Ngalan ng Lawa Philippines, Pyae Phyo Aung from Nature Conservation Society-Myanmar, Chairunas Putra from WHIS Indonesia, Hugo Ferreira from University of Aveiro and Frankie Turk from RE-PEAT.
Opening Ceremony: Key-note Speech
Opening Ceremony: Key-note speakers, Dr. Jane Goodall Opening Ceremony: Key-note speakers, Ms. Martha Urrego
Day 2 : Training workshops on “Youth Advocacy in Global Policy Agendas” & “Effective Communication”
On Day 2, Ms. Elise Allely-Fermes and Ms. Bidhya Sharma from Youth Engaged in Wetlands (YEW) lead the first workshop “Youth Advocacy in global policy agendas” with guest speakers from Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) International, GYBN Southeast Asia, Youth Co-Lab and RE-PEAT to share youth advocates on Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and CBD, Sustainable Development Goals, European Union Common Agricultural Policy and advocacy through anthology. At the end, the participants had an active discussion in Zoom breakout-session in order to share thoughts and ideas and presented the discussion with trainers.
Then, Ms. Sacha Dench, Ambassador of Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and Mr. Gab Mejia from Youth Engaged in Wetlands (YEW) lead the second workshop “A Voice for Our Wetlands-Communications, Science, & Storytelling”. Ms. Dench shared her experiences on how storytelling could be used in conservation projects and what makes an effective story and campaign. She also shared a trailer of a documentary about her act to “flyway with the swans” to raise awareness of conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. Then the participants were assigned to breakout group discussions to work on a campaign under seven set scenarios. At the end, each group selected a participants to pitch their “campaigns”.
Day 3 : Capacity Building – Training workshops on “Local Community Engagement”, “Field Research and Monitoring” and “Environmental Justice and Engaging Marginalized Youth”
Training Workshop “Local Community Engagement”
On Day 3, Raul Alejandro Betancourth and Dr. Pilar Angelica Gomez Ruiz from Foro para el Desarrollo Sustentable A.C and Universidad Autonoma del Carmen led the first capacity building training session “Local Community Engagement” by sharing their lessons learned from the participatory ecological restoration project that they led with their team in Mexico, in the Pantanos de Centla Biosphere Reserve PACC. Participants were then invited to go into breakout groups to explore the role of youth in community-based conservation projects and the main challenges they may face.
Training Workshop “Field Research and Monitoring”
In the afternoon, the Forum resumed, with Professor Richard Fuller from the University of Queensland as the trainer to the session “Field Research and Monitoring” and Mr. Augustine Chung from WWF Hong Kong supported to share citizen science projects. Prof. Fuller gave some insights and tips to participants as they seek to develop conservation research and monitoring projects, highlighting key questions for self-reflection to ensure that research is useful and the principles of a good monitoring plan. Augustine Chung from WWF-HK then shared some insights on citizen science and how to develop and implement a citizen science program and how the information feedback for site management.
Training Workshop “Environmental Justice and Engaging Marginalized Youth”
The last training workshop “Environmental Justice and Engaging Marginalized Youth” was led by Sefa Cariño Tauli from Global Youth Biodiversity Network and Mark Raquino from Global Youth Biodiversity Network South East Asia. With the objective of gaining consciousness about the issues around environmental justice and to explore what each one of us can do or is already doing towards inclusive wetland conservation, Sefa and Mark led participants on a reflective journey of environmental justice, coming together to share experiences and learn new tools.
Day 4 : “Flyway World Café” and ” From Discussion to Action”
The last day of the Forum started off with an interactive Flyway World Café led by Facilitator and “Café Owner” Mika Tan from the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity. The Café started off with a series of four excellent presentations, setting the scene for this conversation. Inspiring and examples of youth engagement were showcased at the international level with Mr. Nick Crameri from the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the national level with Ms. Tomoko Ichikawa from the Ministry of the Environment of Japan, at the local level with Ms. Charlie Jones from the Peel Harvey Catchment Council and at the science level with Professor Nick Davidson. These thought-provoking presentations provided a great introduction to the following discussion exploring the question at the international, national and local levels. Breaking up into groups, moving to their virtual café tables, participants thoughtfully highlighted key challenges which they perceive or experience at these different levels from language barriers and the lack of platforms at the international level, to the lack of prioritization of conservation at the national level, and the general lack of paid opportunities for sustainable youth participation in conservation.
Declaration Drafting Team members Matthew Vincent G. Tabilog and Chen Foong Ling presented the teams plans for the Flyway Youth Forum Declaration, presented hereafter.
As a special surprise for the closing ceremony, folk singer Sam Lee gave a closing speech and performance, translating the idea that wetlands are a powerful place of exchange into song. Lee sang acapella an ancient song from the Scottish travel people called “Moorlough Maggie”, which expresses a deep reverence and devotion to the wetlands – a song of gratitude for these natural ecosystems and what they do for us. A beautiful, poetic and inspiring closure to a transformative journey along the Flyway!
The Declaration has been developed by the Declaration Drafting Team composed of 11 representatives of the Flyway Youth Forum, selected by the Flyway Youth Forum Organising team, with the support of the Organising team. The objective of this Declaration was to give an opportunity to Flyway Youth Forum Participants to come together to establish common key messages, concerns and asks that they have gathered based on the discussions that took place during the 4-day Forum. This Declaration is directed to the Contracting Parties and stakeholders of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Partners of the EAAFP. The Declaration Drafting team met online on three separate occasions and worked virtually to prepare this Declaration, seeking the feedback from all participants on the first draft via a google form.
Declaration Drafting Team members: Ms. Fariha Iqbal (Bangladesh), Mr. (Aaron) Ng Sze On (Hong Kong), Ms. Chen Foong Ling (Malaysia), Ms. Nurhafiza Binti Ahmad (Malaysia), Mr. Thura Soe Min Htike (Myanmar), Mr. Matthew Vincent G. Tabilog (Philippines), Ms. Raisa Dominique G. Perez (Philippines), Mr. Mingyu Sung (Republic of Korea), Mr. Hugo Ferreira (Portugal), Ms. Rosa Maria Soto Ceferino (Peru), Mr. Joie Didier Espérance Sossoukpe (Benin).
Organizing team members: Elise Allély-Fermé (YEW), Bidhya Sharma (YEW), Vivian Fu (EAAFP), Hyeseon Do (EAAFP)
Wetlands are one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet, home to a great diversity of migratory waterbirds and providing countless ecosystem services to people and the environment. Yet, wetlands are in a state of global decline, disappearing three times faster than terrestrial forests, threatening the very ecosystems that we depend upon. For the over 50 million migratory waterbirds of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, ongoing wetland degradation is presenting an unprecedented risk for these species, threatening their home and their existence.
As the youth of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, we feel that we are losing a part of our home, a part ourselves and we are not given a chance to fight for it. We recognise the urgency for cooperation across nations and offer our strengths and determination to act now. This is our global stand to empower youth advocates and strengthen youth collaborations within the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands for the benefit of wetlands and the flyway.
The meaningful participation of youth is essential for the successful implementation of comprehensive wetland conservation programs for they are part of society and they represent the views of new generations. Youth are:
- Influential, dynamic and inspiring driving forces to change the norm, to bring intergenerational equity and uphold long-lasting solidarity with conservationists and local communities across the Flyway
- Collaborative partners capable of creating a bridge between the scientific and policy world and the general public bringing flexibility, fresh and creative ideas to systematic and emerging problems
- Fundamental changemakers in their own local and global communities for wetland and flyway conservation through the diversity of skills, the motivation and potential that they possess
Yet, youth voices and concerns regarding the threats to migratory waterbirds and wetland loss are often disregarded because of the lack of accessible platforms for youth at different levels of decision-making. The neglect of young people’s perspectives is symbolic of a lack of respect and recognition of their rights to be heard and of the impact that the decisions today will have on their present and their future.
Strengthening Youth-government relationships can generate a better understanding of our mutual needs and vision to implement collective wetland and flyway conservation. These relationships will empower young people as essential stakeholders to reach this common dream.
We, the Flyway Youth Leaders of today and tomorrow, recognise our purpose and our role to proactively protect, conserve, and restore wetlands and commit to building a peaceful revolution that establishes sustainable development and fosters environmental justice for wetland and migratory waterbird conservation.
To provide greater intergenerational equity in decision making,
We call for increased, proactive and meaningful participation of youth in decision making processes in the EAAFP and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
We call upon policy-makers to include youth, as allies, in creating and implementing policies that promote the greater protection, restoration and wise use of our wetlands as a contribution to sustainable development.
To provide youth-friendly spaces for meaningful participation,
We call for greater cooperation and the establishment of youth friendly platforms for us to work together with various stakeholders for the conservation and wise use of all wetlands and their species.
We urge the development of more and regular wetland and flyway dialogues, panels, forums and symposiums led by or developed collaboratively with youth to encourage active communication and collaboration among Flyway youth.
We urge the creation and support of tangible platforms (online and offline) for youth networking to amplify youth-led advocacy and to enhance global solidarity among like-minded youth groups.
To ensure active and sustainable participation,
We call for greater resources invested in youth including funding, man-power, training opportunities, facilities and platforms for youth-led initiatives and activities involving youth.
We seek increased support from, cooperation and solidarity with civic organisations, the EAAFP and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands to provide meaningful youth participation in wetland and flyway conservation activities.
To empower and raise awareness of all youth,
We support the urgent need to mainstream and introduce biodiversity and wetland education at all levels of nation-wide education curriculums to raise awareness and improve knowledge on the importance of biodiversity protection and nature conservation, helping students understand their natural environment, their place and their role within it as well as their responsibility.
Download the Declaration of the 2020 Flyway Youth Forum Participants in pdf format [here].
Thank you Message
As the organizer of the Flyway Youth Forum, we would like to express our gratitude to the people below for making this wonderful, first-ever Flyway Youth Forum became true.
We would like to thank
- Our advisors: Tomoko Ichikawa, Mika Tan, Mark Raquino, Chris Rostron, Suh Seung Oh, Hyejeong Yang for their tremendous support and guidance
- Our Sponsor Hanns Seidel Foundation
- The Keynote Speakers: Dr. Jane Goodall, Founder of Jane Goodall Institute and Roots and Shoots, and Ms. Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary-General of Ramsar Secretariat
- Our trainers, speakers and facilitators for the whole Youth Forum
- And all the youth participants, your active engagement helps to fulfill the objectives of the Flyway Youth Forum
- Last but not least, we have to thank our amazing Partner, Youth Engaged in Wetlands! Your commitment, energy and passion made this collaboration and the event a great success!