During two weekends in September, the first ever East Atlantic Flyway Youth Forum took place. 79 enthusiastic young conservationists from 34 countries had signed up for the event to discuss the role and importance of youth engagement in flyway conservation.
With keynote speeches from Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary General of RAMSAR, and Jacques Trouvilliez, Executive Secretary of AWEA-UNEP, and presentations from Finland, the Philippines, Mauritania, The Netherlands, Greenland, the UK, Senegal, South Korea and Portugal, the event had a truly international focus. In the words of Jacques Trouvilliez, “the ultimate goal of the Forum is to connect and empower and provide a unique platform for dialogue for future youth leaders, which are focussing on wetlands and waterbird conservation in many of the countries found along this specific flyway.”
In her keynote speech, Martha Rojas Urrego highlighted the importance of events such as the FYF, stating that: “At this critical time we need to redouble our efforts to protect migratory birds and the wetlands they inhabit, and I am deeply encouraged by the tenacity and commitment of young people globally, leading the charge to conserve ecosystems on which we all depend.”
A declaration is currently being drafted based on the outcomes of the FYF by 12 young, dedicated conservationists who will also act as leaders and take representative roles within the FYF community as Flyway Ambassadors for the next twelve months.
The event was organised in collaboration between the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (as part of the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative), Youth Engaged in Wetlands, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Migratory Birds for People Programme and the International Wadden Sea School, and supported by AEWA-UNEP, RAMSAR, East Asian – Australasian Flyway Partnership, MedWet and Birdlife International.