Jessica Sweidan with Swetha Stotra Bhashyam (Global Youth Biodiversity Network) and Synchronicity Earth’s Félix Feider
I return from the CBD (Biodiversity) COP15 in Montreal filled with an overflowing heart and a very full mind. I am physically exhausted, but I am exhilarated. I came here with our team and partners to listen, learn and be present, and found myself on numerous panels and round table discussions with funders, scientists, conservationists, activists, and youth. I can tell you this: the landscape of conservation is changing. The movement is evolving its practice to address the ecological threats by centring diverse approaches.
This was self-evident in the themes of the events, and in the changing language that has since been adopted in the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. This framework – long overdue because of the pandemic – is critical for setting the global agenda of how countries, businesses, funders, practitioners, Indigenous and local communities, and youth will align and step up to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity. The stakes have never been higher. It is all hands on deck.
Our peer groups and community are everything. We are so lucky – and so grateful – to be surrounded by, engaged with, and learning from, an incredible range of people – from our advisors to our supporters and to our growing network of allies across the world. I suppose this diverse ’slice of humanity’ is something we strive for, but it literally is everything. We are shaped by the culture we surround ourselves with. Younger generations seem to be leading this approach, pushing and stretching societal norms, calling for a more empathetic world.
I am starting to see a convergence of younger aspirations for a better world and ancient belief systems. Environmental youth activists are beckoning us to redress our values, seeming to reflect the values of age-old wisdom traditions that time and again remind us that “we have a responsibility to the future.”
Seeing young people from all over the world speaking up and leading the way has made me reflect on the fact that Synchronicity Earth is thirteen years old. We are officially a teenager, albeit quite a mature teenager – it feels like we are coming of age already… Endearingly, many of the classic tropes of this rite of passage apply: for one, we are having a significant growth spurt, our team has grown from 17 to 24 over the last year.
As a teenager we are starting to become aware of where we stand in relation to our future. The choices we make are going to start having a greater effect on our future direction and development. But there is something about the context of being a teenager – now – that makes this milestone both more meaningful and complex, given the scale of the ecological crisis.
As we come of age, we are ever more confident in our proposition, but we are also cautious, seeking that balance between being a progressive, independent thinker and being thoughtful and considered. And, with age, comes more responsibility. As we have grown, we are now funding and supporting close to a hundred partners on the ground in almost 30 countries and doing so with great care requires significant resource. It also means our responsibility and relationship with all our partners, whether grantee or funder, continues to deepen. It’s exhilarating to be a young adult – we have everything to prove. Our time is now!
I hope you share my joy in watching Synchronicity Earth grow and evolve. We wouldn’t be here without you.
For a flourishing future,