(Re)imagining youth visions of nature-futures in the Global South

Over the last six years, thousands of experts from around the world collected information on the state of our planet’s ecosystems. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) coordinated this effort, and compiled the findings into a number of reports, including one for Africa.

The IPBES reports highlight that the health of our life-supporting ecosystems is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. But they also present a range of actions that can help us achieve more sustainable futures.

To help accelerate action, we need to have visions of “nature-futures” in which people and ecosystems thrive together. What do such futures look like? How can we get there? In particular, we need visions of nature-futures as imagined by the youth (aged 18-30yrs), who will be the stewards of our planet in decades to come. And importantly, we need more visions of the future that are inspired by the lives and experiences of youth from the Global South.

To support the call for stronger representation of youth perspectives in conversations about the future of our planet, we are facilitating a series of online engagements with youth organizations and networks from southern Africa. We seek to engage youth groups that are inspired by the need to address environmental challenges, as well as related issues such as equity and justice.

We have planned two online workshops, taking place from 10h00 – 12h30 (CAT) on the 16th and 19th of March. At these workshops, we will:

1. Introduce the key messages of the IPBES assessments to a wide variety of southern African youth organizations and networks;

2. provide an opportunity for youth in the region to share stories of how their lives are impacted by environmental change;

3. facilitate a “futuring” process to get participants thinking about the future in creative ways; and

4. launch a competition for artistic expressions of “nature-futures” for southern Africa. The winning teams will receive support for their creative pursuits (please see below for more info on this part of the process).

During the workshops, participating organizations will get a chance to interact with like-minded groups from across southern Africa. Participants will learn about “futuring” tools that can be used in their own setting, as well as upcoming training opportunities for more in-depth futuring methods. In addition, insights from the youth groups will be collected and shared with IPBES, to be presented at international science and policy events. If youth organizations choose to participate in the art competition (see more details below), their work will be profiled in a video. 

Details of the art competition:

Groups that want to enter the art competition after the 2nd workshop will need to submit a short proposal for their art project, including a budget of up to ZAR 10,000 (a template for the proposal will be provided, as well as a list of selection criteria). We acknowledge that putting together a proposal takes time and engagement within the youth group or network, and will therefore cover expenses up to ZAR 2,000 incurred during the proposal development. Once winning proposals are selected*, the groups have 4 weeks to complete their projects. All participating teams will then attend an online meeting on Monday the 17th of May, where the projects will be presented to each other. We will put together a video that features the participating teams and documents the competition. This video will be shared with IPBES to be presented at international science and policy events. Finally, in the weeks after the competition, we invite all participating teams to attend a webinar hosted by the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition, where the art projects will be presented to a broad community of environmental researchers and practitioners.

*We reserve the right not to award any prizes, or to adjust the total amount of funding spent on the competition.  

This project was made possible thanks to the generous support of:

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