World Wildlife Day is a very special day on the United Nations calendar. It raises awareness of wildlife conservation and it helps to galvanize national and international action. It is today the world’s most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife.
The theme for this year - ‘Listen to the Young Voices’, aims to inspire young people around the world to actively participate in wildlife conservation efforts.
Our generation has not yet succeeded in securing the future of many wild animals and plants. Meeting this challenge will now be shared with the next generation.
And to succeed we must fully harness the innovation and energy of youth, and combine it with the wisdom that comes with experience, if we are to make the change we need to see happen.
It is the obligation of the current generation to share their knowledge of wildlife conservation with the younger generations, whilst also empowering and encouraging them to actively engage and participate in creative ways.
Investment in our young people will ensure the continued survival of wild animals and plants and help us in the fight against the devastating illicit trade in wildlife.
This year’s theme also comes alongside other strident efforts to encourage youth contribution, such as the work of the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth and the first ever CITES Resolution on youth engagement, which was adopted at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES held in Johannesburg last year. It makes a strong call for the engagement and empowerment of the youth in issues of wildlife conservation.
We have already begun to see the integration of young voices into wildlife conservation issues through the Youth Forum for People and Wildlife in the lead-up to CITES CoP17 and South Africa`s Youth and Conservation Programme – both of which were a great success.
World Wildlife Day 2017 gives us the opportunity to generate enthusiasm for wildlife conservation amongst younger generations, and to provide platforms for them to engage with one another on conservation issues. I encourage youth around the world to take a personal interest in wildlife conservation and to help fight wildlife crimes. Let your voice be heard on the safeguarding of wild animals and plants !
Working across generations for wildlife conservation is in everyone’s interest – and it will benefit economies and people as well as wild animals and plants.
It’s time for all of us to listen to the young voices!
John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES