© Gerald Zojer

Youth from around the world gather to protect Arctic biodiversity

5 October 2018

KEYWORDS
Arctic Climate Change Finland Pan-Arctic Outside the Arctic Communities

Future Arctic leaders are gathering today at the Arctic Youth Summit in Rovaniemi, northern Finland. WWF and CAFF are hosting the 7-day event to give youth a voice and a platform for their views on how best to protect the Arctic. The 35 participants come from the eight Arctic States as well as the Arctic Council’s observer states.

“Safeguarding Arctic biodiversity relies not just upon our generation but also upon the future generations and these young people have an opportunity to influence that future”, says Tom Barry, CAFF Executive Secretary.

The Arctic is warming faster than any other region on Earth. Climate change is by far the most serious threat to Arctic biodiversity, but by taking urgent action now, we can still sustain vast, relatively undisturbed areas of tundra, mountains, fresh water and oceans and the life they support.
Many of the youth are witnessing the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss even though they are still in their early twenties. One of them is Gabriel Stenek, 18, an Inuk from Shishmaref, Alaska, US.

“My home village has experienced a lot when it comes to climate change. Among others, we have had an increase in erosion on our land. Because of the land we lost due to erosion, our community will have to relocate in the future”, says Stenek.

What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. But many of the problems caused by climate change come from outside the region.
“In areas as far away as India, there is a huge lack of awareness, and thus of empathy and consequent action amongst people,” says 23-year-old Ria Narayanan, one of the youth participants at the Summit. She mentors and supervises 18,000 volunteers from all over India.

Youth attending the Summit will learn how to act as ambassadors for the Arctic in their home countries. When they return home, they plan to engage their peers and decision-makers on how to ensure the sustainable conservation of the Arctic. They will also bring their various perspectives to the creation of a youth declaration on the protection of the Arctic, that will be presented to the Arctic Environment Ministers at the Arctic Biodiversity Congress in Rovaniemi on Thursday, October 11.

“I hope Arctic leaders will listen and reflect on the powerful messages from these young people – the Arctic’s future leaders – and their concerns for the present and future of their home”, says Liisa Rohweder, Chair of WWF’s Education Programme and the WWF Arctic Programme.

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For more information please contact:
Antti Haavisto, Communications Specialist, WWF Finland
Mobile: +358 40 845 6842
Email: antti.haavisto@wwf.fi
Kári Fannar Lárusson, Project Manager
Mobile: + 354 699 2203
Email: kari@caff.is

Media availability:
Media is welcome to visit the Arctic Youth Summit and meet the participants on Wednesday, October 10 at 9:00 or 14:00. The summit takes place approximately 25 kilometres from the city of Rovaniemi. The address of the venue is Leirikeskustie 177, Rovaniemi. To register your intention to attend please inform Communications Specialist Antti Haavisto (contact information above) by noon on Tuesday, October 9.

WWF
WWF is the world’s leading environmental organization. Founded in 1961 and now active in over 100 countries, WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. We do this by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Using our unique combination of practical experience, knowledge and credibility, our strong staff work with governments, businesses and communities around the world so that people and nature thrive within their fair share of the planet’s natural resources.
For over 25 years, WWF has had an Arctic Programme that coordinates the work of nine WWF offices active on Arctic issues.

For more information, please visit our website at arcticwwf.org

Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)
CAFF is the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council and consists of National Representatives assigned by each of the eight Arctic Council Member States, representatives of Indigenous Peoples' organizations that are Permanent Participants to the Council, and Arctic Council observer countries and organizations. CAFF’s mandate is to address the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, and to communicate its findings to the governments and residents of the Arctic, helping to promote practices which ensure the sustainability of the Arctic’s living resources.

For more information: www.caff.is

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