Thank you Chair. My name is Steffen Dehn from the International Forestry Students’ Association, speaking on behalf of the UN Major Group for Children and Youth. More ecosystems are protected than ever before, but biodiversity losses continue at an alarming rate. Existing protections are not doing enough. Since I started talking, 10 football pitches have been deforested – one every second. We must balance our natural systems with biodiversity conservation while also delivering renewable products such as food, wood, water and medicine. Mr Udeh and Ms. Ndjebet have already touched on so much, but suffice to say youth are doing our fair share with minimal financial resources. I’ll share five recommendations:


We must include biodiversity and forest in education – without understanding our planet, how do we expect the children of today to be good custodians tomorrow?


The post-2020 Aichi framework will need strong commitments from parties to provide for adequate means of implementation, empowerment of stakeholders to address power asymmetries, strong governance and enforcement, phasing out of harmful subsidies, and a regulatory framework to address activities that drive biodiversity loss.


We must integrate and mainstream biodiversity into agriculture – trees on farms enhance resilience, provide biodiverse habitat corridors, and diversify revenue streams. Governments must collaborate across ministries to deliver this integration. You cannot wait for market forces.


One billion women depend on forests for their livelihoods, we must do better to protect this resource and combat destructive illegal logging practices. Many member states already do this, but we need an intergovernmental commitment to take action and stop the trade in illegal timber. We are only as strong as our weakest link.


Member states and other stakeholders must engage youth in biodiversity and forest-related decision-making processes and enable young people to participate in entrepreneurship. Youth are innovators. In addition, like Sweden, Finland and Germany, we also strongly support the outcomes of the pre-HLPF one-day forests event of the UNFF last Sunday. Our natural systems are the lifeblood of us, which is why we have the tools of the Aichi Targets, Global Forest Goals, Sendai Framework, and SDG15 to steer our path.

Don’t let environmental destruction be the pandemic of the 21st century. Our fate is at stake.