Towards a sustainable future for the next generations: Why biodiversity matters?

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Climate, Energy & Sustainability
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Towards a sustainable future for the next generations: Why biodiversity matters?

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Biodiversity is the basis of our life, economy and natural resources. However, a rapidly growing global population, with its escalating need for food, housing, transport, energy and other resources, is exerting excessive pressure on the Earth’s ecosystems, resulting in a significant loss in biodiversity.

There is an urgent need to protect our natural capital and to use it in a sustainable way, participants heard at the Youth Forum, co-organised by Friends of Europe and Debating Europe on the occasion of the European Commission Green Week 2015.

“We have to move away from discourse of the future generations. The urgency is too high, it’s this generation with its today’s choices that will determine the future of nature capital and climate change”, stressed Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director at the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Young people will be the leaders of tomorrow and are set to play a key role in nature protection activities and decision making process. However, studies show that

“while the youngest generations have a better knowledge about environmental problems than their parents, they don’t believe they can make a change and their opinion would be taken into consideration in policymaking“,stressed Benedek Jávor MEP, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and ‘40 under 40’ European Young Leader.

How can we get young people interested and empowered in nature and biodiversity?

“Everything comes down to education,” said Leanne Tough, Member of the Phoenix Group of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). “For example, the UK government doesn’t look at educating teenagers in issues of biodiversity and nature and I would love to see it on the [political] agenda. It’s time now to put in back into schools.”

“We have to raise young people’s awareness for the value of biodiversity and we need to make it attractive”, said Christian Schwarzer, Youth Ambassador for the UN Decade on Biodiversity and Member of the Steering Committee of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network. We need to have environmental education at school and develop creative platforms to work, communicate and bring together young people on nature.

“We also need to show them that there are many ways to have a real impact on the ground with conservation activities,” concluded Schwarzer.

Communication is really the key. “Young people are often made to feel embarrassed and unpopular because of their interest in nature. It’s crucial to be able to talk to other people openly, share your ideas, and not worry about other people’s judgements”, added Maddy Bartlett, Founding Chair of the Bristol Nature Network. “If we bring nature into the mainstream, incorporate it in daily lives and redefine it as critically important for everybody and not just for few people, we will begin to see a real progress in the protection of the nature world.”


IMAGE CREDITS: CC / FLICKR – Andreas Kay

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Photo of Hans Bruyninckx
Hans Bruyninckx

Executive Director of the European Environment Agency

Show more information on Hans Bruyninckx

As Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, Hans Bruyninckx is responsible for providing policymakers with reliable, independent information on a wide array of environmental subjects, from urban air quality to green infrastructure. Before joining the European Environment Agency, Bruyninckx was head of the Research Institute for Work and Society at the Catholic University of Leuven, where he also served as head of the Political Science Department. Over the past 20 years, he has led research on environmental politics, climate change and sustainable development on a multitude of scales, working with local governments, member states, EU institutions and international organisations.

Photo of Tamsin Rose
Tamsin Rose

Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe

Show more information on Tamsin Rose

Tamsin Rose is Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe. Having studied international relations, she has 25 years of experience working across the European continent from Ireland to Mongolia. A natural communicator, Tamsin has been a radio reporter, worked on press for the EU Delegation in Moscow and is currently a member of the external speaker team for the European Commission Directorate General for Communication, describing how the EU works and key policies to visitor groups from around the world. Since 2002 she has specialised in public health and public participation issues, serving as Secretary General of the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), and providing strategic advice for health groups on how to engage successfully with the EU.

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