Hundreds of youth activists lay out demands at Montreal biodiversity conference
The UN biodiversity conference COP-15 is about to open in Montreal, and on Monday, young activists from around the world laid out their demands.
Around 300 youth from more than 80 countries are in Montreal for the two-day youth summit on biodiversity.
"We are here. We demand change, and we want bold action right now; not in ten years, not in 20, it's now," said Ashley Torres from the Muskrat Collective.
"It's time we do it differently, and that entails having young people at the table of decision-making and in action," said Kevin Lunzalu from the Kenyan Youth Biodiversity Network.
For Lunzalu, the ecosystem collapse is already causing large-scale suffering in his Kenyan homeland.
"Over 4.5 million people are facing drought-induced starvation, and that is a manifestation of historical nature injustice where people have mismanaged that natural resources," he said.
For this and other reasons, the Global Youth Biodiversity Network is calling for urgent action.
"Everything will stand and fall with our ability to implement these targets," said network co-founder Christian Schwarzer. "We need to provide resources, especially for countries in the global south, to be able to implement these actions. Otherwise, we risk that we are going to have empty promises, and then we are going to lose all the credibility, and we don't have time."
It was a message echoed by the head of the convention on biodiversity.
"We want the future generations to raise their voice," said convention executive secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema. "Hold their governments accountable, and they themselves to take the transformative changes as we all play our part in terms of reversing and halting the loss of biodiversity."
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante added her voice and urged youth activists to continue pushing for change.
"You are the leaders," she said. "You are the ones that push us, that forces us to take responsibility, to not forget why we're here and why we need to do these efforts."
The conference in Montreal is the largest youth delegation to attend a UN biodiversity conference.