Youth building sustainable livelihoods and a dignified life in rural areas

Amplifying Youth Voices for change in Land and Nature restoration

Many youth organizations, local universities, and others share common goals of conservation and have a desire to contribute with their own experiences to conservation outcomes within the context of challenges encountered in their regions. The ability to bring people together including youth and other vulnerable groups together to identify, negotiate, and implement practices that restore an agreed optimal balance of the ecological, social, and economic benefits from the conservation of forests, trees, agriculture and biodiversity within a broader pattern of land uses can be scaled up with youths granted access to land rights for improved livelihoods.

Youth that participate in conservation and management initiatives can develop expertise and contribute towards a better understanding of the value of natural resources, carbon accounting and degradation measurements, halting habitat loss and fragmentation, reconciling conservation goals with livelihoods, enhancing water quality and quantity for sustainable livelihoods

Challenges to youth involvement in restoration

Youth are disproportionately affected by the environmental and climate crisis. Youth want to contribute to ecosystem restoration and have relevant skills and new levels of ambition critical to this work. They often don’t have access to the necessary resources, networks, and financial support. This are illustrated as follows

  1. Young people are unable to secure sustainable livelihood opportunities to fully participate in and contribute to biodiversity conservation, nature-based solutions to climate action, and sustainable development in their communities, especially across the Global South;
  2. The work that youth are able to direct towards conservation and sustainable development is therefore limited, as they lack the resources, skills, networks, and platforms to fully direct their energy; and,
  3. An economy rooted in extractives and exploitation of biodiversity and natural ecosystems is perpetuated, resulting in further biodiversity loss.

How to address these problems

Youth to form/strengthen existing initiatives/platforms that will advocate for and implement solutions that are ambitious, grounded in climate justice, biodiversity science and Indigenous rights on through on-the-ground implementation and the international stage at United Nations conferences. The key activities of such platforms should be not limited to in-person and virtual training, study visits, mentorship and network building, community building and peer-to-peer learning, a global storytelling campaign, and the distribution of microgrants to support youth teams to enhance the quality of their Nature based Social (NbS) projects.

Government and development partners to recognize the work done by youth none-state and state actors who are engaged in Nature-Based Social (NbS) work, and provide access to needed resources, including microgrants for capacity-building training in technical, leadership, entrepreneurship, and communications skills, and access to communities and networks.

Integrated technologies

There is need to continue leveraging the power of media, social media, video series segments and digital storytelling to share the impact of youth-led NbS projects.

Youth attaining decent employment and entrepreneurship from restoration and conservation

Economic incentives should be focused first and foremost on conservation, though, for example, payment for ecosystem services. After the conservation of existing natural ecosystems is guaranteed, then economic incentives can focus on restoration. Restoration is an opportunity to give youth and young people a chance to have a good job that means something and that is economically viable for them. In this regard there’s a lot of opportunity to involve youth.

When I was doing a capacity needs assessment for Koitegan, Irong and Chuine communities in Baringo county, for example, I compared how different land uses interact, and one of the land uses was a restoration project by RECONCILE through the Participatory Rangeland Management Project (PRM). It was interesting to see that both farmers and pastoralists were interested in restoration, and in trees, because wood was becoming very expensive and the vegetation cover was diminishing in the region. They would therefore want forest on their land for their cattle. This was very interesting because cattle, as we know, is a very important deforestation driver, but in this case, it was a reason to keep some forest on their land. It’s very important that we see this, and see how different land uses compete, or have synergies.