“Big events like the Forests Asia Summit and GLF in Peru will educate many important actors working in forestry and environmental sectors around the world on how important youth are, especially in tackling current environmental issues,” said Aristia Hady Wanjaya, one of the inspiring youth moderators at the Forests Asia Summit held in Jakarta in May 2014.
After the big success of the 2013 Global Landscapes Forum and the 2014 Forests Asia Summit’s youth sessions, and ahead of the youth activities at December’s GLF2014 in Peru, we catch up with the young speakers, facilitators and moderators who were involved in the GLF2013 and the 2014 Forest Asia Summit’s youth sessions to find out how these youth champion’s career paths have evolved and their advices to upcoming youth leaders and participants in the 2014 GLF.
Joseph Macharia: “Do the work and the money will follow”
Joseph or the ‘Facebook farmer’ is the founder of Mkulima Young, an online community that encourages youth to engage in agriculture by creating an online space for young smart farmers or others interested in agriculture to market their produce, ask questions, obtain advice and create networks. “Youth are in agriculture, but it is not celebrated. Moreover, youth are online; reach them out there and get them involved in agriculture,” he said at the event. Check Joseph’s showcase here.
Steve Kibet: From GIS to land management and conservation
When asked about the upcoming 2014 GLF youth session in Peru, Steve doesn’t hesitate one second on what to advise to the next youth leaders: “Let us sit down and discuss our issues; let’s focus on how we can implement solutions concretely. Let’s make sure that for each issue we identify a concrete solution that can be implemented by us without necessarily needing anyone else. Check Steve’s showcase here.
Sithembile Ndema: “Young People come up with solutions to development challenges, if given the chance to”
“Most often youth are brought to such big meetings only as token participants, but at the GLF they were given a platform to speak their minds out. “ Her advice for future youth leaders: “It is important to make sure that once the GLF is over there is proper feedback given to youth constituencies at a country level and to keep the conversation going even after the end of the GLF.” Check Sithembile’s showcase here.
Otim Joseph: “Have real and fast transformation by involving the youth”
Before the 2013 GLF, Joseph was planting trees in Uganda. He was working with the youth and protecting women from being raped. “After the 2013 GLF, I carried on working on management of natural forests and I planted more trees, but with the global issues of climate change in mind. Also, I have set up more outreach programs through radio and social media.” In Joseph’s own words, being given the opportunity to be heard has been very important in the process of youth engagement in climate change, land use or sustainable development so far, this is why his recommendation for the coming youth leaders is to “never underestimate the power of the youth – in all what they do.” Check Joseph’s showcase here.
Tan Copsey: “Action on climate change has been led by young people”
This time last year, Tan was managing a large research project for BBC Media Action looking at the impacts and perceptions of climate change in Asia. At the GLF2013 youth session, he shared some of the data and stories that their research had uncovered about young people. “Communication can amplify the voices and actions of innovators in rural areas. And it can encourage and enable effective action in response to climate change,” he said at the event. Tan is now a senior communications manager at the New Climate Economy, working with heads of state and senior economists to analyse and communicate the economic benefits and costs of acting on climate change. Check Tan’s showcase here.
Nadia Manning-Thomas: “You don’t have to fit in the box”
After spending many years working as a knowledge-sharing specialist in developing countries and being moved by the small-scale producers she met, Nadia Manning Thomas felt inspired to open a personal and household accessories retail shop with her husband. Danaqa World Chic combines a unique commercial approach to sustainable development that links quality products made in developing countries with customers in Europe. At the GLF 2013, Nadia shared the personal stories of some of her suppliers (often young people) as well as the lessons she learned in ‘daring to be different’. Check Nadia’s showcase here.
Karen Tuason: “As a young development worker, I am ready to carry on”
This year, Karen has successfully been qualified for a master degree and will be graduating in Wageningen (Netherlands). “My participation at last year’s GLF helped me to prepare for this. It made me more confident: despite the struggles that countries like the Philippines face, the international community is there to help.” After one year, she admits that the GLF helped her a lot to get in contact with different stakeholders and to expand her network.“ Her message to the 2014 GLF participants is: “Maximize the platform to convey the issues of your country’s rural youth to a broader public. The event is one of the best opportunities for networking!” Check Karen’s showcase here.
Jan Joseph Dida: “Create innovative solutions that you can concretely involve in”
“Being selected for the Forests Asia youth program was a worthy experience. It has helped me to build creative ideas and I have been generating the same type of discussions since then, in the context of my studies and involvement in youth groups.” Jan Joseph highlights the life changing experience that got him outside of his comfort zone by doing something new. His recommendation to GLF2014's participants: “Enjoy the event and get involved as much as possible; express yourself, share your thoughts, and create innovative ideas and solutions that you can concretely initiate and get involved in.” Check Jan Joseph’s showcase here.
Yi Ying Teh: “If you are an artist, make art. If you are a leader, organize!”
Yi Ying is studying Environmental Sciences and Policy at Duke University. Since the Forests Asia Summit, Yi Ying has been more connected to happenings in Southeast Asia and in forestry. “Meeting inspiring youth and thought leaders, who I still keep in touch with through various forms of social media,” says Yi Ying, is the biggest benefit she gained by participating in the Forests Asia youth session. Yi Ying’s advice to new youth leaders: “be active in promoting environmental change in whatever capacity you have” and do not be intimidated by powerful people. Check Yi’s showcase here.
Aristia Hady Wanjaya: “This is the beginning of the era of youth involvement”
Aristia is working on a national REDD+ project in Central Kalimantan, supporting several villages as they prepare themselves to implement REDD+ in their village in the near future. “Since graduating and participating in the Forest Asia session, I have really noticed that people see me differently, especially after obtaining a degree from a reputable university,” says Aristia. In Aristia’s opinion, youth should be involved further in forestry and environmental sectors; this is why his advice for the youth leaders and participants is: “Take the stage and confidently show that youth will be the main actors in the future.” Check Aristia’s showcase here.
Jaime Webbe: Building skills, commitments, and youth engagement in climate change
During Forests Asia Summit's youth session, Jaime led a group of youth through a ‘knowledge expedition’ to identify the key skills that young people need to engage in and work with climate change issues. “When you approach any session, be ready to make commitments. Youth have a unique opportunity to be heard in climate change negotiations, more so than in many other international processes, so go ahead and use this opportunity to set an example.” She says. Check Jaime’s showcase here.
Andhyta Utami: Embrace your “youth-ness”: the possibilities are unlimited!
"Before the 2014 Forests Asia Summit, I was a Jakarta-based researcher with the World Resources Institute, focusing on sustainable land-use issues, particularly those related to the palm oil sector." Today, this youth leader continues to raise the awareness of Indonesian youth on climate change and the utmost importance of sustainability principles in land use through various means, including events like Youthnesian and Indonesia Youth Conference. Andhyta notes that there are more opportunities for young people to be involved in the decision making process globally, this is why her advice for the 2014 GLF participants is: "Embrace this youth-ness; enjoy exploring the unlimited possibilities, and don’t hesitate to speak out your thoughts! Get involved." Check Andhyta's showcase here.