August 30, 2020 – 08h00
The International Youth Leadership Council is an initiative of the NGO EarthEco to bring together young people from various countries interested in conservation issues. An alliance with the Celebrity Cruises shipping company was able to get three Ecuadorians to participate for the first time.
The Council held the 5th Annual Youth Leadership Summit from August 6 to 8 virtually due to the pandemic, with the participation of 400 young people from 32 countries and regions, including three young people from Puerto Ayora (Galapagos) in virtual earning sessions, networking and collaboration. One of their goals was to create a wave of youth collective action to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. It is the # OceanEcho30x30 movement.
Priscila Bonilla (15 years old)
‘Every little action helps’
Despite her young age, Priscila Bonilla is already working to protect the green sea turtle on Isabela Island and to restore Scalesia affinis, a threatened plant that is food for other species, for which she has the support of the organization Ecology Project International (EPI) and the Houston Zoo.
Plastic pollution is the main threat in Galapagos, she believes. “An individual of the adult Chelonoidis mydas (green turtle) can die if it ingests a plastic cover, since it does not allow a correct and natural digestion. Taking into account that only one out of every thousand turtles that hatch from the egg manages to survive until the adulthood, this would have consequences on the birth statistics of this species.” And the same goes for the rest of the fauna related to the ocean.
“Every little action helps, I believe that as young people we must be environmentally conscious, we must value our environment. I believe that this begins the change, from this thought we can begin to take action. It is everyone’s responsibility. “Priscila Bonilla
Inspired by her experiences in conserving the Galapagos habitat, her message at the Summit was as follows: “We must not set limits, we must apply our full potential to things that help our community and not stop because of circumstances but face them with courage. ”
Priscila further notes that other EarthEcho members advised them on how to strengthen their proposals. “We talked about sensitive issues such as conservation policies, inclusion and one of my favorites, the fight against discrimination.
“Every little action helps, I believe that as young people we must be environmentally conscious, we must value our environment. I believe that with this the change begins, from this thought we can begin to take action. It is everyone’s responsibility ”, she concludes.
Julián Álvarez (17 years old)
‘We all share the same feeling’
The main problem in Galapagos is pollution, agrees Julián Álvarez, a resident of Santa Cruz from Quito who earned his place on the Council by participating in the ecology club of Ecology Project International (EPI), carrying out coastal cleanups, giving educational talks in public places, educating people in the community and has implemented projects to conserve local flora and fauna.
He participated in the 5th Annual Youth Leadership Summit with diverse expectations. “Being able to change the world, carry out activities that benefit both us and the rest, reach all people and include them in conservation and share knowledge with as many people as possible.”
The meeting’s agenda motivated them to get to know each other among the participants because it is essential to exchange experiences and support from the various initiatives that participated in this meeting. That dialogue required a special organization. “We split up into committees for different activities. My committee is the Excursions committee ”.
There are people in other parts of the world who share the same sense of conservation and we are all a team.”Julián Álvarez
The main lesson he received is that there is always something to improve in their respective projects and that each testimony fills them with a special wisdom to continue in their conservation efforts.
“There are people in other parts of the world who share the same sense of conservation and we are all a team,” says this teenager who wants to become a social communicator.
He will choose this career because he considers that conservation requires an intense work of education to the current generations, especially the younger ones, since the responsibility of protecting the planet will be on their shoulders. “Let’s all come together to generate change and take care of everything that surrounds us.”
Sergio Álvarez (19 years old)
‘We must protect the ocean’
He is Julián’s older brother. It has also shown an active and enthusiastic participation in conservation activities proposed by eco-friendly clubs, and has also tried to raise awareness about the importance of reducing our impact on the environment.
“I had the opportunity to spread my message in different media and be heard by people. I shared this with the EarthEcho instructors during the interview they conducting while applying to the Youth Leadership Council ”.
Sergio participated with the desire to gain inspiration with the projects carried out in other countries and to implement some in his own home, “also having a greater scope to teach and communicate new ideas to young people from different parts of the world, always contribute to conservation” . These ideas included everything from lake cleaning robots, invasive species control, pollination actions, creating gardens, etc.
“The importance of protecting the oceans as soon as possible, that the imagination has no limits when you have an idea to be able to solve any problem, of any scope.”Sergio Álvarez
It was also interested in supporting the global campaign # OceanEcho30x30, an initiative designed to intensify the collective impact of actions led by young people to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030. For this, 30 conservation projects led from different countries are being developed. “The young participants in the Summit began the construction of educational and active support campaigns, involvement in policy initiatives to protect the ocean and the development of direct conservation actions to restore ocean habitat.”
His greatest lesson during the Summit ?: “The importance of protecting the oceans as soon as possible, that the imagination has no limits when you have an idea to be able to solve any problem, of any scope.”
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