This time last year, I was only just starting to understand the participation challenges young people across the world face when attending large science policy conferences.
On the surface it seems like progress has been made, with many commitments for youth representation in committees and in sessions.
Yet when you look below the surface, youth (defined as 18-30 years old) still often remain at the margins of participation in policy, research and practice efforts represented at these conferences.
One of the reasons is that young people are not provided with sufficient skill building opportunities to effectively contribute to these discussions and to become better professionals.
Another possible reason for marginalized youth participation is that issues discussed at large science policy conferences are often not ones that youth would be regularly exposed to in their studies or workplaces. For example, the conferences I have worked on address integrated land use practices and policies to combat climate change and achieve sustainable development – not topics that are widely discussed and debated amongst young people, even those who are heavily involved in international climate policy processes.
So 12 months ago, I teamed up with two other very inspiring young people to try to change these paradigms – Marina Cherbonnier from YPARD and Sarah Dickson-Hoyle from the International Forestry Students’ Association (led by the dynamo Peter Casier). Marina and I started with a special youth session at the first Global Landscapes Forum in Warsaw in December 2013 and then Sarah joined in to help us run a special youth session at the Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta in May 2014.