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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 ten 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: gybnsteeringcommittee@gmail.com

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
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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 350.org. 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.

Bolivia

Steering Committee Member representing Latin America

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Position

Philippines

Steering Committee Member representing Asia

Kier received his Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology and co-founded PaWeCan Do It! — a movement that educates the coastal communities in Southern Mindanao in the Philippines, especially the youth, about marine conservation. His advocacy secured him an academic fellowship under the Environmental Leadership Institutes of the US State Dept Foreign Exchange Programs in 2016, at the University of Hawai’i. He is currently a MSc. Candidate in Wildlife Studies at the University of the Philippines, Los Baños, where he is the project leader of a research project on amphibians and reptiles in the southern Philippines. He is also working with GYBN and helps coordinate the Philippines chapter. 

Kier Mitchel E. Pitogo

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Position

Canada

Steering Committee Member representing North America

Thomas McAuley-Biasi graduated from the University of Guelph in 2015 with a degree in Zoology and has represented Canadian youth with the Canadian government at the Convention on Biological Diversity COP-13 in 2016, and as a Canadian Youth Ambassador for World Environment Day in 2017. He is also the chair of Emerging Leaders for Biodiversity (ELB), a youth network in the province of Ontario devoted to connecting young people who are passionate about the environment and biodiversity, as well as connecting them with jobs and opportunities in the environmental sector. As chair, Thomas represents ELB on the Ontario Biodiversity Council, as well as on the Biodiversity Education and Awareness Network’s board. 

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Thomas McAuley-Biasi 

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Kenya

Steering Committee Member representing Africa

Kevin Lunzalu is a wildlife biologist from Kenya and a coordinator of the Kenyan chapter of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network, a platform through which he actively engages young people at the grassroots level about innovative and sustainable solutions aimed at halting the biodiversity loss currently occurring around the globe. Kevin, a 2015 recipient of the Environmentalist of the Year Award for his community-centered conservation work, is also a two-time nominee for the the Environmental Blogger of the Year Awards (2018 and 2019). He was one of the selected for the 2019 UN Young Champions of the Earth.

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Kevin Lunzalu

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Trinidad and Tobago

Steering Committee Member representing LAC

Darien Jones has a B.Sc. in Environmental and Natural Resource Management and Agribusiness, and is currently pursuing his M.Sc. in Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development in the Caribbean at the University of the West Indies (UWI). He is a Technical Officer with the National Reforestation and Watershed Rehabilitation Programme (NRWRP), where he oversees and directs 10 organizations in rehabilitation and conservation work through Trinidad. He is also involved in NGOs and CBOs from Protectors of the Environment (POE) and the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN), where he performs duties as a Research Officer and Project Coordinator respectively.

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Darien Jones

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James Propa

Uganda

Steering Committee Member representing Africa

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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.

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Swetha Stotra Bhashyam

Country:  India

Position:  Global South Focal Point

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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.

South Africa

Steering Committee Member representing Africa

Simangele holds a MS degree in biological sciences (specializing in pollination biology) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is the coordinator of the South African Youth Biodiversity Network, a national chapter of GYBN which serves as a registered NPO in South Africa. She currently works for WILDOCEANS as a project site coordinator of the Oceans Alive Project. Simangele has 8 years experience in the processes of the Convention on Biological Diversity, doing policy initiatives and tracking, interventions and capacity building. She was also on the facilitation team in two GYBN Africa capacity-building workshops (South Africa, 2017 and Kenya, 2018) and the GYBN Europe workshop in Austria (2019). 

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Simangele Msweli

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Brazil

Steering Committee Member representing LAC

Brenda is a biologist from Brazil and a master's student in biodiversity and conservation. She was coordinator of the biodiversity working group of the NGO Engajamundo from 2017 to 2019. She is currently involved with the creation and strengthening of the GYBN Brazil national chapter. She works with environmental education and ecosystem services in local communities, schools and universities. She strongly believes that young people can transform the reality of the places where they live and that they can do this through actions, projects and the participation in political processes. She would like to continue working to learn, build and disseminate knowledge for nature conservation in Brazil and worldwide.

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Brenda Izidio

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Philippines

Steering Committee Member representing Local and Indigenous Youth

Josefa Cariño Tauli (Sefa) is an indigenous Ibaloi-Kankanaey Igorot youth from Cordillera, Philippines, serving as co-coordinator of GYBN Southeast Asia since 2018 and has been actively advocating for indigenous peoples’ issues and youth participation within GYBN since becoming a member. With her academic background in biocultural diversity conservation, experience in grassroots initiatives for indigenous youth, and her advocacy in biodiversity, science-policy, and indigenous peoples rights, she has contributed significantly to informing GYBN positions and been part of the youth delegation to a number of CBD meetings especially on relevant concerns and contributions of indigenous peoples and local communities. 

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Josefa Cariño Tauli

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Xiomara Acevedo

Colombia

Steering Committee Member representing Latin America

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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.

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Grecia Bárcena

Mexico

Steering Committee Member representing North-America

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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.

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Melina Sakiyama

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.

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Brazil

Youth Voices Capacity Building and Empowerment Programme Global Coordinator

Christian Schwarzer

Country:  Germany

Position:  Global North Focal Point

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Christian is one of the founders of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network and has dedicated most of his life to working on biodiversity and environmental issues. In recognition of his accomplishments in biodiversity policy and advocacy, 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. He has participated in over 25 rounds of UN negotiations under the UNFCCC, IPBES and the CBD, has published numerous articles and studies on environmental policy issues, and is one of the lead authors of CBD in a Nutshell.

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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