Story | 02 Nov, 2023

Biodiversity and future generations – The 2nd International Conference on Biodiversity in the Congo Basin

The CEBioS Programme and the Centre de la Surveillance de la Biodiversité (CSB), organized the 2nd International Conference on Biodiversity in the Congo Basin from 6 to 10 March at Kisangani in the DRC. More than 320 participants from over 15 countries discussed the many challenges for the future of biodiversity conservation in the Congo region. Entry written by Pierre Huybrechts, CEESP member.

In March 2023, in Kisangani (DRC), the CEBioS program and the CSB (Biodiversity Monitoring Centre) organized the 2nd International Conference on Biodiversity in the Congo Basin. The event was an ideal opportunity for the science-policy interface, as it attracted political figures including the DRC Minister for the Environment, scientists, members of government departments and research institutes, project leaders, and many young people. The primary objective of the conference was to provide an opportunity for the many stakeholders involved in studying and preserving biodiversity to share their knowledge, thereby improving their understanding of the threats to biodiversity and the solutions that exist or are needed to protect it. It was also an opportunity to highlight the links between biodiversity, health, climate, and socio-ecological systems, and to discuss the relationship with the post-2020 global biodiversity framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More specifically, the conference provided an opportunity to: 

  1. Strengthen the awareness and motivation of (inter)national and provincial political authorities to increase their efforts to preserve the Congo Basin and its unique fauna and flora, 
  2. Help to cope with the growing demographic pressure and economic development and their effects on the use of renewable natural resources, as well as the potential threats to human health that may result, 
  3. Strengthen the existing local and international network of scientists, civil society, and political decision-makers, 
  4. Strengthen links within research on climate, biodiversity, and health, and 
  5. Promote the public availability of data relating to the exploitation of renewable natural resources to local authorities.

In this multi-stakeholder event, a specific place was given to the next generations by proposing a side-event called “Biodiversity: Next Generations.” Together with the Congolese Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN Congo), several contests were organized. This was done in order to raise awareness and ask questions to young people about the importance of biodiversity and conservation issues. Apart from the conference participants and their families, students of elementary and secondary schools from Kisangani were also invited to propose their creations. For the short film contest, participants were asked to capture images on the topic “Cheers to the health of biodiversity”. Jury members brought particular attention to movies that were: 

  1. Taking a new, original, and innovative look at the theme of biodiversity, 
  2. Contributing to the knowledge and understanding of these themes for non-expert audiences, 
  3. Opening debates with political decision-makers and local/national authorities, 
  4. Dealing with the representations and collective imaginations, benefiting or harming biodiversity. Regarding students from hundreds of primary and secondary schools, competitions took the forms of drawings and essays respectively.

We particularly remember the following sentence in the winning essay stating that "Man is at the root of the biodiversity crisis because of his activities. But that doesn't stop young people from taking part in protecting their planet, because young people are the future of this world".

Finally, the event became more than anything a place where multi-generations and multi-stakeholders were talking together, exchanging views and opinions about the future of this beautiful nature of the Congo Basin, and the need for urgent and common actions.