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Our Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is our main coordination body and ensures that the mission and goals of GYBN are being pursued and achieved

Our Steering Committee consists of 12 members from eleven countries, representing all world regions. Two Steering Committee members are also acting as Focal Points (main points of contact) between the network and external bodies such as the CBD Secretariat.

The Steering Committee can be contacted at:

or visit our Contact Us page and fill out our contact form.

Meet our Steering Committee:

Christian Schwarzer

Position:  Steering Committee Member representing Europe and Global North Focal Point (2018 – current)

Christian is one of the founders of GYBN and has dedicated most of his life towards environmental issues. In recognition of his activities on Biodiversity, he has been appointed as Youth Ambassador for the UN Decade on Biodiversity. He is a member of NAJU and Co-Chair of Germany’s NGO working group on Biodiversity policy. Christian is currently studying for a double major in History and Political Science. His main research interest lies on Global Environmental Governance. So far he has participated in 21 rounds of UN negotations under the UNFCCC, IPBES and the CBD and published numerous articles and studies on environmental policy issues.

Mirna Ines Fernández

Country: Bolivia
Position: Steering Committee Member representing Latin-America (2014 – current)

Mirna lives in Bolivia and is an environmental engineer. She has been involved in environmental issues since being very young and is a member of Reacción Climática as well as VAM and In collaboration with Indigenous groups, Mirna has coordinated several campaigns to safeguard protected areas and is one of the founding members of the Bolivian youth environment network. She is currently working as a professor at the Universidad de Aquino and is focussing her research on Tropical Andes ecosystems’ conservation and restoration.

Dodé Heim

Position: Steering Committee Member representing Africa (2016- 2018)

Dodé Heim is a Beninese holding an Engineer degree in Forestry sciences and a Master in Protected Areas management from Senghor University (Egypt). At the beginning of this year, he is working as Technical assistant for IUCN Regional Director for west and central Africa region and BIOPAMA. The Biodiversity and Protected Area Management (BIOPAMA) programme aims to address threats to biodiversity in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, while reducing poverty in communities in and around protected areas. He is involved in the Biodiversity conservation specifically Wildlife conservation with IUCN-WCPA (World Commission on Protected Areas). He is also WCPA young professional and he works closely with team of Nature For All team. Dodé Heim is GYBN (Global Youth Biodiversity Network) Steering Committee Member representing West and Central Africa and has participated in a wide number of international conferences and expert meetings as youth delegate.

Xiomara Acevedo

PositionSteering Committee Member representing Latin America

Xiomara is an environmental activist and founder of the NGO Barranquilla+20, which has mobilized more than 8,000 youth to execute campaigns related to biodiversity, water, climate change, and environmental education. Under her direction, the group has fought to preserve and defend the local Mallorquin wetland from development and pollution. She holds a degree from the Universidad del Norte in international relations with emphasis on international law, and a specialization in climate change and cities.

Melina Sakiyama

PositionYouth Voices Capacity Building and Empowerment Programme Global Coordinator

Melina is a Brazilian biologist and holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Management from Kyoto University in Japan. She has been involved in numerous reserach projects on biodiversity conservation, biodiversity valuation and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). She also volunteered for various social and environmental organizations. She is a founding member of GYBN and has coordinated youth participation in the CBD since 2012. Since 2014 she is coordinating GYBN’s Youth Voices capacity building and empowerment programme.

Swetha Stotra Bhashyam

PositionSteering Committee Member representing Asia and Global South Focal Point (2018 – current)

Swetha Stotra Bhashyam is a budding wildlife biologist from India. She has dedicated the past 7 years towards working with several grass-root and the international organizations to help conserve biodiversity. She has been a part of Global Youth Biodiversity Network and has been works on policies issues under the Convention on Biological Diversity since 2012. In the future, Swetha hopes to channel her energies into working on international projects which have high-impact on the ground.

James Propa

Country: Uganda
Position: Steering Committee Member representing Africa (2016 – current)

James is a 25-year-old Ugandan Radio DJ. His passion for Biodiversity links to way back in my childhood as he loved the fact that his family grew their own food. It was always magical at the time of harvest, to see the food him and his family had planted yield so much. James was sparked a few years back when he went home and realized the land could no longer produce enough food to hold his family through drought. The reasons are partly because of cutting down trees for firewood and charcoal. He then decided to use his tools and platforms as a Radio DJ with a youth following to sensitize young people about protecting the environment and now am running a project aiming to teach young people about beekeeping since bees are one of the keys in ensuring more crops are pollinated and can also be an alternative source of income for the young people. He and his team continue to raise young people’s interest through the things they love, like entertainment and music.

Adrian Watson

Position: Steering Committee Member representing the Caribbean (2016- 2018) 

Adrian is establishing his social enterprise called Honai Beez Apiary which focuses on establishing urban apiaries within the city of Kingston Jamaica starting with his home community. This is to ensure that honey bees have habitats to survive whilst still providing a source of income for young people within cities. Adrian has been a member of the Kingston and St. Andrew Beekeepers’ Association for three years. He has played a significant role in the re-establishment of the association in which he spent just a year on the Steering Committee. He was then elected as the Public Relations Officer which sees him mainly engaging members aiding with the development of the associations business plan creation. In this role he also mainly performs the task of advocacy when engaging external organizations and persons.

Grecia Bárcena

PositionSteering Committee Member representing North-America

Grecia Bárcena has a mayor in International Business and a minor in Global Issues from Tecnológico de Monterrey. She is a permanent backpacker, youth believer and nature lover.

She has a camping store called “Terlan” where she enjoys connecting clients with the experience of understanding and feeling nature in a holistic way.  The Scout Movement is a big part of her life since she was 6 years old. Nowadays, she is ambassador of Scouts Mexico  and part of the Planning Team to the biggest international gathering of Scouts, The World Scout Jamboree.  

In 2016, she helped found GYBN México after being inspired by COP-13 and with the objective to generate opportunities for Mexican youth to participate in the decision-making process for biodiversity.

Previous Steering Committee Members:

  • Minjae Song - South Korea - September 2012 to September 2014

  • Fortuné Azihou - Benin - January 2011 to September 2013

  • Jean Paul Brice Affana - Cameroon - March 2012 to September 2013

  • Lena Mäckelburg - Germany - January 2012 to September 2013

  • Gista Rukminda - Indonesia - January 2011 to September 2013

  • Jemima Apophia - Uganda - January 2011 to June 2013

  • Ibrahim Gamal Eldin - Egypt  - October 2010 to May 2012

  • Bethany Winstone - Canada - October 2010 to May 2012

  • Willem Laermans - Belgium - October 2010 to April 2012

  • Niwa Dwitama - Indonesia - October 2010 to March 2012

  • Marie Tanao - Japan - October 2010 to March 2012

  • Jessica Tarka - Canada - October 2010 to January 2012

  • Kirsten Falkenburger - Canada - November 2010 to January 2012

Thanks to the previous Steering Committee members who were involved during the long process of establishing GYBN. The establishment of this Network was only  possible with your hard work and diverse knowledge and expertise.