Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2013, "The Youth Guide to Biodiversity" 1st Edition, Youth and United Nations Global Alliance. Reproduced with permission.
In addition to one or more common names, every internationally recognised species has a unique scientific name. It consists of two names, usually Latin or Greek words, that are always italicised (or underlined if the name is written by hand). The first name is the genus (generic name), and begins with a capital letter; the second is the species (specific name), and is written in lower-case.
Now that you have read through the Six Simple Steps Towards Change, you are ready to lead your own biodiversity action project to success. Remember that these steps are only guidelines and you may want to set your own path. There is no perfect system or path to success because each situation is unique.
Monitoring your project throughout each stage will help you to best respond to changes that occur along the way and have a lasting impact. It is helpful to set out indicators or measures of success to make sure you stay on track. The more specific your indicator, the easier it will be to achieve your achievements.
By now you have identified biodiversity issues of concern, you’ve learned more about the issues, and have recognised your skills and those of your team. You have also learned about the importance of networking and connecting with people who can help you to achieve your goals. You are ready to develop and implement an action PLAN.
“The sharing of information and collaboration with students from other nations bring us closer together and help us all to realise that we do indeed live in a global village.”
Clint Monaghan, delegate director Second International Youth Symposium for Diversity
Member Organisations of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) carry out many projects around the world.
Here are two examples of projects tackling environmental issues.
Both projects won an Olave Award for outstanding community service work at the WAGGGS World Conference in 2008.
Girl Guides of Malaysia: “Recycling for Unity” project
Identifying your skills and characteristics will help you LEAD your project to success. Start by understanding your own strengths and needs, and then consider how creating a team could help you better achieve your goals. Helping your team members identify and leverage their own strengths and talents for the project is an important part of leadership. It is also important to ensure that all those involved are able to share in the vision of what you are trying to achieve.
You are part of nature’s rich diversity and have the power to protect or destroy it.
Biodiversity, the variety of life on Earth, supports the living systems that provide us all with health, wealth, food, fuel and the vital services our lives depend on. We know that our actions are causing biodiversity to be lost at a greatly accelerated rate. These losses are irreversible, make our lives poorer and damage the life support systems we rely on every day. But we can prevent them.
Refer Back to your reflections on the biological resources that you would like to conserve, protect or restore. Now you can IDENTIFY and narrow down the biodiversity issues that are more important to you.
In 2006, Abel Machado School in the tiny community of Massambará, Vassouras, Brazil, participated in an online event that challenged schools to implement one activity to combat climate change in their local area. The event was organised by the non‑profit global collaboration initiative, Fire & Ice, started by Elluminate, an e-learning and virtual conferencing technology provider based in Canada.
The Mt. Kenya Youth Initiative for Ecosystem Restoration (MKYIER) is a volunteer-run community organisation, founded by urban and rural youth, to address deforestation in the Nyeri North district of Kenya.
Sylvia Wambui Wachira, MKYIER co-founder and programme manager, describes how she and her friends started the organisation and how they empowered a new generation of forest stewards, one school at a time:
1. Reflect And Get InspiredReflect On Your Passions
Take a moment to REFLECT on the biodiversity issues that matter most to you. Imagine a world of unlimited natural beauty and diversity, where humans live in harmony with the Earth's biological and natural systems. What would that world look like?
These Six Simple Steps Towards Change have been adapted from the Guide to Action, created by TakingITGlobal, in consultation with young global leaders from around the world.
You can use these steps to help you to plan and execute your own biodiversity project:
1. Reflect and Get Inspired
2. Identify and Get Informed
3. Lead and Get Others Involved
4. Get Connected
5. Plan and Get Moving
6. Have a Lasting Impact
After reading this guide and learning about the importance of biodiversity and the threats to biodiversity, get ready to take action on the issues that matter most to you. Young people around the world are leading successful projects to protect and restore the biosphere. Now it’s your turn to take action: learn the six simple steps that you can take to start an action project that will help to ensure that the world’s biological resources are protected for future generations.
We can all make a contribution in supporting biodiversity conservation efforts. While most of us would be content to act locally on biodiversity issues that are most accessible to us, we all have the potential to make a difference at both the national and global level.
You can also find out and contribute to local, national and international programmes and projects in a variety of ways:
The Earthshare programme assesses the impact of cocoa farming on biodiversity. Universities, students and volunteers work together to collect scientific information needed to help preserve biodiversity, to improve farming practices and to increase productivity.
At the core of many biodiversity efforts are non-governmental organisations, or NGOs. An NGO is an organisation that is not part of a government; it exists for the purpose of advancing and promoting the common good, working in partnership with communities, governments and businesses to realise important goals that benefit all of society (see box: “The Cadbury Cocoa Partnership”).
The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve in Mexico is home to some 2 000 people, mainly of Mayan descent. Its mission is to integrate human activities with the rich biodiversity of the region without harming the natural environment. Including local people in its management helps to maintain the balance between pure conservation and the need for sustainable use of resources by the local community.
The Srinharaja Forest Reserve is Sri Lanka’s last piece of fairly intact and viable tropical rainforest. The communities that depend on this forest for their subsistence have created village-level community organisations that have a say in biodiversity conservation decisions.
Working in partnership with government organisations, these community CSOs actively manage and promote projects such as special zoning for various types of uses, research on selective logging and conservation of endemic flora and fauna. These organisations help change attitudes of other local residents about conservation and lead to observable results. Since the project began, for instance, illegal logging in the area has been reduced by up to 75 percent.
The success of conservation programmes and measures, whether government initiated or not, ultimately depends on human behaviour and community action.
This is especially true of international-level programmes. No matter how clever a strategy to conserve biodiversity may be, or how strict the international treaties ratified are, unless people in the relevant areas embrace them, success is impossible or short-lived at best.
There are many types of actions that can be implemented at national or sub-national level to tackle biodiversity issues.
Each country in the world is unique; even neighbouring countries often have different histories, customs, forms of government, needs, languages and sometimes unique ecosystems. Given this, conservation programmes must therefore be tailored to the specific conditions of a country.
Also known as CMS or the Bonn Convention, this 1993 international intergovernmental treaty sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) seeks to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species across the planet. At present it includes 113 countries from Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
Many issues related to biodiversity transcend political boundaries, so what a particular country does or does not do affects others.
Here are some examples where international level actions are important:
:: International fishing regulations are needed to help prevent the over-exploitation of marine resources.
In 1973, the governments of Canada, United States, Denmark, Norway and the USSR signed a treaty that recognised the responsibilities of the countries around the North Pole for the coordination of actions to protect polar bears. The Polar Bear Treaty (Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, I.L.M. 13:13-18, January 1974) commits the countries who signed it to manage polar bear populations in accordance with sound conservation practices. It prohibits hunting, killing and capturing bears, except for limited purposes and by limited methods, and commits all parties to protect the ecosystems of polar bears, especially those areas where they den and feed, as well as migration corridors.
Natural resource use occurs at all scales; some communities exploit resources to subsist, while many others consume much more than they need for survival. Let’s examine a fisheries example. At one end of the scale you have a local fishing village that only takes from the local waters what it needs to subsist, using hand-nets and other low impact practices; at the other end, you have international fishing fleets that take very high volumes of fish and other sea life, over large areas, using methods such as trolling, that have a great impact on the environment.