Categories Global, Newsflash, World, youth

Cultivating seeds of change: Launching the ICCA Consortium’s “Youth for Territories of Life”

By Josefa Cariño Tauli and Lucas Quintupuray, co-chairs of Youth for Territories of Life.

“Mientras cohiue hayan cohiue nacerán. Si un cohiue cae,10 cohiues nacerán.”
(As long as there are cohiue, more cohiue will grow. If a cohiue falls, 10 more cohiues will grow.)

In the Mapuche territory of life, cohiue is a millenary tree of great height that abounds — growing and bearing seeds from which generations of new cohiues emerge. To the Mapuches, it is a symbol of continuance: as long as there are Mapuches, Mapuches will be born.

Custodians of territories of life highly value the links between generations past, present and future. After all, our lands and waters and the life they hold are passed on by our ancestors to present generations who care for these so that future generations can continue this special relationship with nature—of nurturing and being nurtured in return. And in times such as now when the threats to our territories continue to rise, when oppressive systems of inequality are still the ‘norm’, and when many world leaders turn deaf ears to our struggles, it is more important than ever to nurture these links and forge onwards. Much like seeds pushing through the earth to grow into mighty cohiue trees, young people must continue to build ourselves, learn and grow into the strong agents of change that are so needed by our communities and territories and the planet as a whole.

Despite the many disruptions, the year 2020 is still supposed to be a superyear for biodiversity. In recent times, there has also been a growing and long-overdue recognition of the importance of youth in shaping our planet’s future. Young members of Indigenous peoples and local communities are quite a special bunch in this regard, with unique perspectives and contributions, but also unique challenges. To name a few, while we carry the rich and valuable traditional knowledge that continues our sustainable ways of life, we also face the continued threat of the disappearance of our languages, the lack of access to culturally appropriate education, and continued discrimination.

In this crucial and buzzing time, it is important that we do what we can to actively engage and amplify the voices of youth from our communities to join those of youth everywhere who are claiming their spaces and demanding to be heard and included in decisions that will change the course of our futures.

Hasan is a young member of the Indigenous Cabildo Musuiuiai of the Inga ethnic group of Orito, which custodies a territory of life in the region of Putumayo, Colombia. © E Courtine.

Institutionalising youth engagement for territories of life

With this, we are incredibly excited to announce and officially launch the ICCA Consortium’s initiative for youth engagement: Youth for Territories of Life (the “Youth Group”)! Created earlier this year following a decision by the Council at the XVth General Assembly, this youth-led group has the following objectives:

  • To institutionalise and sustain a common platform for youth involved in the ICCA Consortium membership;
  • To foster young people’s engagement and intergenerational partnership in the ICCA Consortium;
  • To ensure that young people’s voices, compelling stories, issues and roles are appreciated and recognised throughout the ICCA Consortium’s work; and
  • To explore opportunities for young people’s capacity building and leadership towards self-strengthening territories of life.

This also comes at an important moment in time where the ICCA Consortium is considering its history and future as an organisation, with transitions to the second generation of leadership in the Council and Secretariat and the start of its second decade. It is extremely important in this endeavor that we be proactive in creating spaces especially for youth to ideate, discuss, express their views and support each other.

ICCA Consortium Council member Mihanta Bakoliarimisa delivering the closing statement on behalf of the youth at the latest UN CBD meeting in Rome. © Kotoko Yodamaru

Who are the members?

The Youth Group is composed of youth who are 35 years old and under who represent or are from territories of life, or who are actively supporting and working toward the appropriate recognition of territories of life. They must be either youth representatives of the ICCA Consortium’s Members, or Honorary members themselves. Everyone who meets these criteria is welcome and encouraged to join! Details on how to do so can be found at the end of this article.

A youth-led group

The Group will be chaired by two or three youths who are actively engaged in territories of life, with at least one of them being part of the Council. The co-chairs should represent and encourage participation of a diversity of regions, genders, origins and areas of expertise on a rotating basis. The authors of this article, Lucas Quintupuray and Josefa Cariño Tauli, have heartily accepted nominations to co-chair the group for the first term. To introduce ourselves, Lucas is Longko (leader) of the Mapuche Quintupuray community that lives near the Correntoso Lake, a representative of the Zonal Lafkence Council of the Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén (Member of the ICCA Consortium) and a member of the Consortium’s Council. Josefa is a young Kankanaey-Ibaloi Igorot from the Cordillera Region in the Philippines and an Honorary member of the ICCA Consortium.

As an important sign of empowerment and ownership, the Youth Group will formulate our own guidelines, goals, tasks and action plans in line with the ICCA Consortium’s mission, culture and strategy. The Secretariat and Council stand ready to support us as needed as part of our collective commitment to intergenerational learning and exchange. We know we can count on the full membership to do the same!

Youth engagement in the ICCA Consortium’s international activities in early 2020

The ICCA Consortium is actively participating in the process to develop the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. In February 2020, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held the 2nd meeting of the Open Ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (OEWG-2) in Rome, Italy. The ICCA Consortium’s delegation included several youth members from Indigenous peoples and local communities from Africa and Asia. They enthusiastically joined activities of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network, including a Youth Policy and Advocacy Training to support meaningful youth participation in biodiversity policy spaces, and helped prepare and deliver statements on behalf of the Network. Even with the timing of the rest of the post-2020 process now uncertain in light of the coronavirus pandemic, it is our hope that ICCA Consortium youth will continue to actively engage in this process and in all other decision-making spaces that affect them.

Youth delegates at the OEWG-2 representing the Global Youth Biodiversity Network, including ICCA Consortium youth members Mihanta Bakoliarimisa (Madagascar), Resiato Salyan (Tanzania), Tenzin Samten (Nepal) and Josefa Tauli (Philippines). © Global Youth Biodiversity Network.

Shining a spotlight on youth engagement

To provide a space for youth perspectives in the ICCA Consortium’s communication channels, we are excited to announce a new section on “Youth for Territories of Life” in our monthly Newsflash! If you are a youth involved in the ICCA Consortium and interested in contributing written articles, photo stories, short videos, poems, illustrations or otherwise, please contact Gaëlle Le Gauyer (gaelle@iccaconsortium.org). All contributions to the Newsflash are also shared in our social media platforms.

Join us!

If you are interested in joining Youth for Territories of Life, please contact Emma Courtine (Membership Engagement Coordinator, emma@iccaconsortium.org) explaining your current affiliation with the Consortium and providing a short bio. You may also contact us, the Co-Chairs, at josefa.tauli@gmail.com for Sefa (correspondence in English) or lucasquintupuray@gmail.com for Lucas (correspondence in Spanish). We will arrange the first virtual meeting of the Youth Group soon.

We look forward to you joining us as we co-create a meaningful space for youth engagement, cultivating our community’s seeds of change for territories of life!

Featured image: ​Cohiue tree © Verónica Quintupuray