Q&A with Kevin Lunzalu, Marine Ecologist from Kenya
How Will Youth Shape the 12th World Wilderness Congress?
Who are you? Can you please introduce yourself?
I’m Kevin Lunzalu, a marine ecologist from Kenya. I co-founded the Kenyan Youth Biodiversity Network, a youth-led conservation organization whose main pillars of action are environmental policy advocacy, ecosystem restoration, marine plastics, and awareness. I hold a Masters in Coastal Science and Policy from the University of California, Santa Cruz. I’m deeply interested in co-designing and fostering youth-inclusive, equitable, and youth-focused conservation roadmaps to advance global sustainable goals.
Have you previously attended any biodiversity or climate conferences? Could you share a brief story or anecdote from one of them?
Yes, I have been lucky enough to be part of youth delegations in two historic Conferences of Parties (CoPs) of the UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and a speaker at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in 2021. COP14 of the CBD, which was held in Egypt in 2018, was the last CoP under the Aichi Targets and set the pace for discussion on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. I was part of the CoalitionWILD delegation for CoP15, which took place in 2022 in Montreal, where the current Kumning-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework was negotiated and successfully adopted. The adopted framework is particularly important because it provides almost the last opportunity for the world to put its act together and do something meaningful for the planet before we reach a point of no return. The interests of youth, whose generation will be the most impacted by the planetary crises, must be centralized in the implementation of the framework.
Do you believe it is essential for younger generations to engage in these conferences?
Yes. It is at these conferences that key decisions that define the future of the planet are made by world leaders. Therefore, it is very important that the voices of young people are included in the preparation of the framework documents, the actual negotiations, the review of national action plans and strategic documents to align country priorities with global ambitions, and effective implementation, monitoring, and reporting processes.
What advice would you offer to a young individual interested in participating in the 12th World Wilderness Congress?
The 12th World Wilderness Congress provides a unique opportunity for youth to meaningfully contribute to the strengthening of wilderness policy, build their capacity, share lived experiences on pertinent conservation issues, propose viable solutions to wilderness conservation challenges, and create much-needed awareness. I, therefore, urge young people, especially from the Global South, to ensure their voices and innovative approaches to the conservation of wilderness areas in their localities are heard and seen.
You are invited to help us identify key themes for the Global Gathering on Knowledge, Wisdom, and Ways of Knowing to elevate the wilderness conservation work of all cultures and from all the world regions.
12th World Wilderness Congress Announced, To Be Hosted by The Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council in He Sápa, the Black Hills
Nothing short of a global swarm of people flocking with the swift, bold grace of starlings will save our life sphere and the millions of species who live here with us.