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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.

Hover over the boxes below to get to know our current Steering Committee members:

Mirna Ines Fernández

Country: Bolivia

Position: Steering Committee Member representing Latin-America

Steering Committee Mirna.jpg

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.

Grecia Bárcena


PositionSteering Committee Member representing North-America


Grecia Bárcena has a major in International Business from Tecnológico de Monterrey and 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 nature in a holistic way. Nowadays, she is an ambassador of Scouts México and is part of the Planning Team to The World Scout Jamboree.  In 2016, she helped found GYBN México after being inspired by COP-13 with the objective to generate opportunities for Mexican youth to participate in the decision-making process for biodiversity.

James Propa

Country: Uganda

Position: Steering Committee Member representing Africa

Steering Committee James.jpg

James's passion for biodiversity links back to his childhood when he and his family would grow their own food.  However, James realized a few years ago that the land could no longer produce enough food to feed his family because of recurring droughts in Uganda. He then decided to use his tools and platforms as a Radio DJ to familiarize young people with protecting the environment and is now running a project aiming to teach young people about beekeeping and its importance for ensuring more crops are pollinated. He and his team continue to raise young people’s awareness of biodiversity issues through entertainment and music.

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.

Country:  South Africa

Position:  Steering Committee Member representing Africa

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's main research interest lies on Global Environmental Governance. He has participated in many sessions of UN negotiations under the UNFCCC, IPBES and the CBD, and published numerous articles and studies on environmental policy issues.

Simangele Msweli
Swetha Stotra Bhashyam

Country:  India

Position:  Steering Committee Member representing Asia and Global South Focal Point

Steering Committee Swetha.jpg

Swetha Stotra Bhashyam is a budding wildlife biologist from India. She has dedicated the past 7 years towards working with several grassroot 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.

Adrian Watson


Position: Steering Committee Member representing the Caribbean

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Adrian is establishing Honai Beez Apiary which focuses on establishing urban apiaries within the city of Kingston, Jamaica. This is to ensure that honey bees have habitats to survive whilst providing income for young people within cities. Adrian has been a member of the Kingston and St. Andrew Beekeepers’ Association for three years. He was 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.

Melina Sakiyama


PositionYouth Voices Capacity Building and Empowerment Programme Global Coordinator

Steering Committee Melina.jpg

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.

Dodé Heim


Position: Steering Committee Member representing Africa 

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Dodé Heim is from Benin and holds a Master's degree in Protected Areas management from Senghor University (Egypt). He worked as a technical assistant for the IUCN Regional Director for the western and central Africa region and worked for the Biodiversity and Protected Area Management (BIOPAMA) programme, which aims to address threats to biodiversity in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. He is involved in wildlife conservation with IUCN-WCPA (World Commission on Protected Areas). He is also a WCPA young professional and he works closely with team of Nature For All team. 

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.

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