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Finnish youth wish for strong international biodiversity targets and a clear plan to achieve them

Press release 2020-01-27 at 12:28

Press release of the Ministry of the Environment and Youth League of the Finnish Norden Association

Finnish youth want strong targets to be set for biodiversity, and a clear plan to achieve the targets. According to young people, important elements to be taken into account include corporate responsibility and load to the environment caused by economic activities. On Friday 24 January, 60 young people from different parts of Finland met in a workshop organised by the Youth League of the Finnish Norden Association and the Ministry of the Environment to draft their own recommendations for the targets.

“Both sanctions and incentives are needed to protect biodiversity. Everybody’s contribution is needed, and companies must also be obliged to take action to ensure biodiversity,” says the workshop’s facilitator Matleena Moisio.

“Thriving natural environments are a key prerequisite for humankind. Biodiversity touches upon us all, and it is important for all of us to find ways to halt the decline in biodiversity,” says Nicholas Kujala who participated in the workshop and moderated the discussion.

Views of the young contribute to the Nordic countries’ position on the new targets

The views of young people will be heard in all Nordic countries during this spring, to be taken into account in formulating the negotiation position of the Nordic countries concerning the new international biodiversity targets.

New targets to halt the decline in biodiversity are being prepared as the current ones will expire in 2020. The targets are to be decided at the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) to be held in October in Kunming, China.

“We will take the views of the young to the negotiation tables. The voice of young people is important when making decisions on actions for nature. The future of the present and future generations and the viability of this planet depend on these decisions. The message of the workshop is clear: The decline in biodiversity must be halted because a natural environment that is rich in biodiversity is a prerequisite for life. We are working hard to achieve this”, says Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen.

As part of the EU, the aim for Finland is to promote ambitious, measurable and clear objectives in order to halt biodiversity loss by 2030.

The Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) responsible for preparing the targets consists of the parties to the CBD, scientists, and representatives of civil society organisations, indigenous peoples and the young. The first negotiating document was completed on 13 January 2020, and the Open-Ended Working Group will convene to discuss it on 24–29 February 2020.

Young people to attend the UN Conference in Kunming

The Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) is inviting active young people to come together and participate in the UN Conference to be held in October. The plan is that young people from different countries would travel to the conference venue together by train through Europe, Russia and China

Christian Schwarzer from Germany, who is one of the coordinators of GYBN, was also present at the workshop.

“Every young person can be an ambassador of hope. Everyone’s actions are important. At the moment our house is on fire, but through cooperation we can put down the flames. The way the Finnish Government is listening to the young is truly great,” Schwarzer says.

UN Convention on Biological Diversity

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the most important international agreement on the protection of biodiversity. The objectives of the Convention are the conservation of ecosystems and plant and animal species, the sustainable use of natural resources, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

The Convention has been ratified by 196 countries, including the European Union. It entered into force in 1993.

The Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP), held every two years, is the highest decision-making body of the Convention. The fifteenth Conference of the Parties to CBD (COP15) will be held in Kunming, China in October 2020.

Photos from the workshop for media use. Photographer: Lena Höglund, Youth League of the Finnish Norden Association

Inquiries concerning the workshop:

Christa Elmgren, Youth League of the Finnish Norden Association, unr@pohjola-norden.fi, tel. +358 40 774 8107

Krista Kalamo, Youth League of the Finnish Norden Association, krista.kalamo@pohjola-norden.fi, tel. +358 400 763 044

Miliza Malmelin, Senior Specialist, Ministry of the Environment, miliza.malmelin@ym.fi, tel. +358 295 250 176

Inquiries concerning the preparation of the biodiversity targets:

Marina von Weissenberg, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, marina.weissenberg@ym.fi, tel. +358 295 250 321

Antti Heikkinen, Special Adviser to the Minister, antti.heikkinen@ym.fi, tel. +358 50 348 1406