The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO MAB programme. In order to celebrate this milestone, the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve Youth Network was honoured to host the MaB 50th anniversary celebration through a youth capacity building workshop for 30 youth leaders in the VBR.
The workshop was help on the 18th to the 20th of June 2021 at Clivia lodge in Makhado. The workshop brought together youth leaders and champions in the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve and capacitated them in order to play a leading role and to become champions on environmental, conservation and biodiversity issues while also learning about other important sectors in the biosphere that would help them in the near future. The workshop was in collaboration with the South African Youth Biodiversity Network (SAYBN) and funded by the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and the Department of Forestry Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE). It brought together speakers from different organisations such as Ms Simangele Msweli, Senior Manager, Youth Leadership Program from AWF who did the opening remarks giving well needed encouragement to the youth with emphasis that the future belongs to them and that actions about biodiversity conservation need to be taken now.
Mr Philippe Pypaert a Programme Specialist at UNESCO also came in with some remarks showing how excited and happy that the youth are in the biosphere are actively owning their space. He showed much appreciation that the work of the UNESCO MAB is being carried forward and the results are showing off while he also congratulated the youth network on the job well done with the workshop. Ms Malta Qwathekana, CBD Focal Point, South Africa from the Department of Forestry Fisheries and the Environment whose role was to address the youth on matters of the current Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) negotiations on the post2020 global biodiversity framework stated how proud she was for a youthful generation that is willing to be involved in policy making and making a stand to protect our biodiversity. Mr Vongani Maringa – MaB Focal Point South Africa from DFFE came into breakdown what the MaB programme is all about and how it came about. He further dived in into presenting to the youth the opportunities and benefits that are there for young people and how they could be involved in the MAB program going forward.
The workshop was also attended by Dr Lutendo Mugwedi, VBR Chairperson from University of Venda and Mr Makoni Tonderai VBR Co-ordinator. There were major outcomes the youth outlined during the workshop which included coming up with the VBR YN implementation plan. The youth showed so much energy overall during the workshop and that hunger to do more for themselves and their respective communities. They were also encouraged to take control and be ambassadors of the biosphere providing the needed support to well manage the VBR.