The Power of Youth: Driving Change within the Isle of Man Biosphere

Rachel Smith, Biosphere Isle of Man’s Youth Rep, recently attended EuroMAB 2024: A Climate for Change. Rachel tells us about her trip and the insights she brought home…

Rachel Smith, Biosphere Isle of Man’s Youth Rep, recently attended EuroMAB 2024: A Climate for Change. Rachel tells us about her trip and the insights she brought home…

At the start of June, I had the incredible opportunity to attend EuroMAB 2024, a dynamic conference for individuals dedicated to UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere programme across Europe and North America.

This year, it was held in the historic German town of Lutherstadt Wittenberg, featuring a special two-day segment for youth participants. The emphasis on youth inclusion was a key theme, aligning with the Man and the Biosphere’s commitment to integrating underrepresented young voices into environmental stewardship and decision-making.

The youth conference was particularly captivating. We discussed leadership and the power of storytelling to inspire change. I contributed to conversations around building community and the challenges of communicating the importance of biosphere reserves. The experience provided me with fresh ideas and a network of supportive friends with diverse skill sets.

Rachel Smith (bottom, second from right) and the Youth Group at the conference 

On reflection, I have realised that the special thing about youth involvement in meaningful action, whether on climate and biodiversity loss, or the multiple social and economic challenges we face, is our unique ability to approach problems differently. We are problem solvers, optimisers, and innovators. When many young minds come together, real magic happens. The conference reinforced how vital biosphere reserves are in leading the way towards true sustainability. By collaborating across generations and with various stakeholders, we can unlock immense potential for positive change.

I learnt that the youth of the German biosphere reserves are already working together fantastically. A group of passionate people have come together to utilise their strengths, creating their own network consisting of a range of working groups that focus on aspects such as communication, concepts, and finance. Each network member is able to select one of these working groups to which they can contribute the most or in which they wish to expand their knowledge and skills.

They all meet at self-organised, privately sponsored educational seminars where they visit different biosphere reserves around their country to gain further experience and encourage one another. They have big visions for the future of their organisation, and I believe that a similar concept could work brilliantly within our ever-growing community of talented individuals here on the Isle of Man. It takes passionate individuals to get started, but the hard work could pay off in ways that are currently unimaginable!

Rachel Smith, Biosphere Youth Rep at EuroMAB

When I returned home, I felt somewhat lost. The sense of belonging and community I experienced at the conference was now only virtual. However, I realised that I need not look any further than my neighbours and my wider community. There are so many talented young people here who are passionate about the value of biosphere reserves, even if they do not realise it yet. If we work together to create this community, collaborate with our individual ideas, and share our unique skill sets, we can find the resources to make a real positive difference. Not only this, but it is also more important than ever for young people on the Isle of Man to get involved within our communities. By being confident enough to champion the initiatives that we believe are most beneficial for climate action, we can make the most impactful changes. While small individual actions are important, the true difference will be seen when we all work together.

Educating the Island's youth about the potential of the Isle of Man and empowering them to work together for positive change will benefit the entire nation. Our self-governance should, in theory, make it easier for everyone to influence change; an opportunity we should embrace more often. This will have far-reaching impacts as the island becomes a beacon of hope, showcasing a sustainable future where human development and nature go hand in hand. Together, we can create a thriving, resilient community that sets an example for the rest of the world – it is our duty as a biosphere reserve, after all!

If you, or someone you know, are interested in joining a community of like-minded people wishing to do some good for our island, have a specific skill that you would like to share, a project you would like to start and need more support for, or ideas you would like me to bring to the table at a Biosphere Stakeholder Partnership Group meeting, please let me know.

Don’t hesitate to contact me through social media: @rachels_wild_diary, or by email:

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Posted up on 10th July 2024


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