Lift the Brackets on Our Future: GYBN Delegates Demand Progress on a Fairer GBF in Nairobi

By Mirna Ines & Sefa Tauli, GYBN Policy Team

1 September 2022 | Article 2, GYBN Newsletter Vol. 1(1)



A group of GYBN members standing, displaying a banner that reads 'Lift The Brackets On Our Future'. They are also seen to hold square brackets as a way to communicate to life the brackets from draft Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
Members of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network expressing their concerns over the lack of progress in the negotiations on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis. (OEWG-4, 26 June 2022)

From June 21-26, a combined in-person and online GYBN delegation of at least 76 young people engaged in the recent negotiations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held in Nairobi, Kenya. This was the fourth round of meetings that aimed to make significant progress on finalizing the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), which will lay down global goals and targets that will form the policy basis to address biodiversity loss in the coming decades. The GBF is set to be adopted in the upcoming 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP15) scheduled to happen this 7-19 December 2022 in Montreal, Canada. However, the slow progress and lack of urgency by governments to finalize a just and implementable GBF is creating deep concern among civil society, including youth.


The 4th meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (OEWG-4) aimed to advance negotiations on the GBF and on digital sequence information on genetic resources in order to produce the final draft of the GBF for consideration and adoption by COP15. However, progress was insufficient, warranting the scheduling of a fifth working group meeting set to take place on December 5-7 in Montreal, a few days before COP15. While some progress was made, including clean unbracketed (i.e. agreed upon) text in two targets out of the 23 up for discussion (Target 12 on green and blue spaces, as well as Target 19.2 on non-financial means of implementation), many major disagreements remain. The text remains heavily bracketed and some sections, including sections on guiding principles and awareness and uptake, remain unnegotiated.


Front page of the GYBN Policy Brief for the Post-2020 GBF shows three people on the podium. The title is 'Be Champions at Lifting the Brackets' and below the cover is the writing 'to # StopTheSame'. Two women (at the first and second position) and a man (at the third position) are holding colorful brackets in the hands.
The key call by the Global Youth Biodiversity Network to decision-makers: Be champions at lifting the brackets to #StopTheSame. To view the full set of GYBN recommendations for OEWG-4. Visit: https://www.gybn.org/oewg4

Throughout the negotiations, GYBN strongly urged Parties to “Be Champions at Lifting the Brackets to Stop the Same”—a call for decision makers to put in the work to reach consensus on difficult issues, and to develop a framework that delivers on the needed transformative change. The delegation also continued to advocate for key priorities stemming from the wide youth consultations conducted by members of the network, of which some key priorities were ensuring that the framework strongly reflects intergenerational equity and the full and effective participation of youth, transformative education, as well as rights-based approaches for people and nature. Through the community’s efforts from the beginning of this process, these elements remain in the negotiating text of the framework so far. We call on Parties to continue to be champions for the priorities identified by young people for their future, by ensuring that these elements remain strongly in the framework until adoption. Some of these key elements are:


  • The reflection of children and youth in Target 21, a target that ensures our full and effective participation and our rights to access justice and information, as well by Indigenous peoples and local communities (IP LCs), women and girls

  • A strong and clear GBF Mission that reflects the purpose of the framework to ensure a healthy and equitable future for present and future generations and all life on Earth

  • Intergenerational equity as a key guiding principle for the implementation of the framework, as reflected in the section on guidance and principles (B. bis), as well as in the Theory of Change

  • Strong safeguards for Indigenous peoples and local communities in conservation activities that directly impact them, especially in Targets 1 and 3

  • Ensuring directly accessible resources and other means of implementation for Indigenous peoples and local communities, women, and youth (Target 19)

  • Recognizing the role of a transformative and innovative education in eliciting societal change, as reflected in the section on principles (B. bis), Target 16 and 20, and in the section on awareness and uptake (Section J)

  • Ensuring that the framework is implemented through a rights-based approach, respecting and fulfilling human rights including the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and acknowledging the rights of Mother Earth


Youth efforts to make our voices heard in this process have certainly paid off and have brought substantial value to the discussion; however, challenges remain in attaining full and effective participation. There was noticeably limited time for observers to intervene, even on highly relevant issues to them such as Target 21. There was also difficulty for smaller delegations to meaningfully take part in parallel meetings. Furthermore, COVID-19 risks remain present.


Beyond active participation in the negotiations, the GYBN delegation also brought our voices outside the negotiation rooms. During the 6-day meeting, GYBN initiated and took part in a number of actions and events. Calls for a rights-based GBF were heard along the halls, as well as demands for Parties to lift the brackets on our future. GYBN also organized a press briefing together with allies on how area-based conservation can be done fairly and equitably. Further, many GYBN delegates created stronger relationships with their country delegates, a step toward strengthening youth participation at the national level.


A group of 6 people seated on a panel with mics. On the table are several posters with strong messages.
Press briefing hosted by the Global Youth Biodiversity Network on rights-based and equitable area-based conservation, with inputs from representatives from the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity, GYBN Uganda, Forest Peoples Programme, ICCA Consortium, Campaign for Nature and Nia Tero.

GYBN sincerely thanks the efforts of its active global youth community, whose efforts at all levels in conducting consultations, tracking the negotiations, following the process online and offline, developing capacities of fellow young people, conducting formal and informal dialogues with decision-makers, and communicating these messages to the wider public all contribute toward demonstrating the collective contributions of youth for biodiversity.


As GYBN stated in its closing statement at the end of the meeting, “We will continue to champion a rights-based approach to be at the heart of this process, as called for by our consultations with thousands of young people from more than 100 countries” to ensure that no one forgets: “Nothing about youth, without youth. Nothing about women without women. Nothing about IPLCs without IPLCs.”


To view the full set of GYBN recommendations for OEWG-4, visit: https://www.gybn.org/oewg4.

To view the outcome documents from the meeting on the CBD website, visit: https://www.cbd.int/conferences/post2020/wg2020-04/documents


Find out more about what happened in Nairobi and how GYBN participated by watching our Updates from Nairobi webinar held on July 24, 2022.


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