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Panel Discussion “How to involve youth in MAB activities | the 16th EABRN Meeting

Moderator: Dr. Suk-Kyung Shim, the vice-chairperson of the EABRN


Dr. Miyeong Yoo, Biosphere Resource Manager, ROK,

Prof. Roman Jashenko, Chairman of the Kazakhstan National MAB Committee,

Mr. Ts.Dashpurev, Director, Hustain Nuruu BR,

Dr. Miguel Cluesener-Godt, Faculty of Environmental Information Science, Yokohama national University, Japan,

Mr. E.Tuvshin, officer in charge of foreign relation, Administration office of the Dornod Mongol BR,

Mr. B.Batzaya, officer in charge of the transition area of the Hustain Nuruu Biosphere Reserve.

Dr. Mi-Yeon Yoo, Biosphere Reserve Manager, opened this session with a presentation titled "Sharing Experiences of MAB Youth Forum in Global and Korea."

After the presentation, panellists exchanged views on how to improve youth participation in MAB activities. Several people also gave comments on this matter in the audience.

Mr E. Tuvshin said that he was particularly interested in the suggestion to use museums for youth involvement. He wondered whether it is enough to give general information on the MAB programme or Special protected areas (SPAs) should be also included and stated that it would be important for informing foreign visitors, if and how SPAs are related to the MAB programme.

Prof. Roman Jashenko raised the issue of generational differences. He compared the situation in his youth, where the organisation for nature protection was within groups belonging to a movement, e. g. GROBO. Nowadays, an electronic system is used in line with the ubiquitous use of smartphones and computers in the younger generation. Therefore, he suggested implementing such techniques, when seeking to develop youth involvement for MAB before reaching for face-to-face interaction. This means, we need to make efforts on creating apps devoted to MAB. These can be used to give information about socio-economic development and to develop activities such as seeing rare birds, animals. With user interaction, they can also provide guidance or tips to get information, and protect the areas from violence, wild camping and other crimes in nature. Regarding the face-to-face interaction, Prof. Jashenko promoted youth movements and suggested a relaunch of pre-existing movements like pioneers of nature protections. Another proposal was to organise high-quality discussions, collaboration especially for specific areas like the Asia- Pacific area or Asia networking. Lastly, he stressed the importance of support for funding because such movements will be lost without investment in it. He pointed out the need for preparation in this aspect.

Dr. Michael Walter explained that it is not just about the funding; it is about getting in contact with youth living in BRs and organising meetings involving youth. In Japan, they organise training by municipalities, villages and towns in the BRs, and by the regional governments. We must bring young people to the field and learn from the best practices of the other countries in this regard. The young people should be brought to the BRs. The information about the BRs should be included in the teaching materials and teaching system.

Mr. B. Batzaya narrated his own story about moving from Uvs province to the capital city in 2000, thinking of becoming a lawyer. But there were many activities and training about the benefits of herder’s life and protecting the surrounding areas. These activities and his interest in tourism lead him to work in the Hustain Nuruu BR today. He said that in the Hustain Nuruu BR, they teach biology to the secondary school students, hold competitions, organise field trips, and show documentaries about the BR. Furthermore, the Hustai Camp is held every year, where children are provided with the best photographers and experts on plants and animals, in the hopes of having more experts from those children in the future. Another activity is collecting waste and recycling it, such as batteries, and it turns into a competition where children are rewarded.

Mr. Ts. Dashpurev affirmed that regarding activities for youth, they have some very good professionals among the managers. reinforced the value of public awareness actions for each protected area, conveying the goal of MAB or state-protected areas. He agreed with Dr. Cluesener-Godt to ask for more activities from the national committees, but also voiced his understanding of the difficulties due to financing. This also depends on the legal basis, for instance some countries have loans regarding BRs, but not in Mongolia, so most parks are underfunded. He said that in difficult situations, BRs should get attention and funding from UNESCO or even the government in order to create more activities to attract the people, which would in turn lead to more activities. For now, the organisation revolves mostly on local schools, where they have dedicated cabinets trying to teach the right attitude toward nature, such as waste collection to do the very least. In the future, he envisioned the organisation of regional and national youth forums. He explained that they want to learn from their international colleagues about the organisation of these events, as they do not have any experience so far. He closed his remarks by stressing again the increasing work to involve youth in the activities concerning the MAB programme.

Dr. Miguel Cluesener-Godt commented that he talked to Prof Shahbaz Khan, who is responsible for UNESCO activities in this region and advised to develop a project with detailed information and send that to the related office. Through doing this, some sources for funding can be searched and the office can link the BRs with some potential sources.

Ms. Yeonji Kim shared information about the Jeju island BR in the Republic of Korea. In 2014 and 2015, surveys on BRs and their culture, history and ecological knowledge were conducted by young people, where they conducted interviews with local people, and published it in a book. She also mentioned that a project has been implemented to revitalise the brand of the BRs. She then proposed publishing a book or magazine together with the BRs once a year, potentially as an online version too.

Dr. Michael Walter said that they provided school modules teaching in terms of biology, physics, and chemistry, always focusing on water and its quality. They also developed handbooks for school children, provided materials and water quality measurement equipment. He suggested promoting this in the future, explaining that such schools located in BRs can come together and exchange the experience in these core subjects like chemistry, physics, geometry, and biology. Also, appointing prominent people, like hip-hop or pop stars as environmental ambassadors can have an impact. Regarding the implementation of apps, he voiced concern about the need for a reliable internet connection. He also said that the special protected areas of Mongolia administration offices should organise training activities for the youth, but there should be trained people for this task.

Ms. Yeon Soo Choi introduced herself as working for the National Commission for UNESCO and shared my experience of participating in the MAB ICC meeting last June, where an agenda for youth resonated a lot. As youth is a priority group, the Secretariat of the MAB Programme suggested establishing a youth network for the UNESCO MAB programme. They proposed guidelines for actions to be taken in local and regional areas. She suggested discussing this during this EABRN meeting and to make a concrete plan. She underlined the importance of youth because they are the people who will be living in the future, conforming to climate change. On a regional level, in the Asia-Pacific area, there is a large youth group, so it would be great to have a youth forum for the EABRN. On a local level, she argued that the youth should be able to participate in the decision-making processes.

Ms. HyunSook Seo requested all the participants to think about our ideas. She then reminded the participants that there is no need to develop new materials as there already are materials and curriculums in schools, which are provided online by the National Commissions and even by the UNESCO headquarters, e.g. for the leaders in the training program. She implored the BRs to use those kinds of platforms.

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