MY Delta: youth ambassadors for sustainable development in the Po Delta Biosphere Reserve

Following the 1st MAB Youth Forum, UNESCO’s MAB Programme is preparing for the next MAB Council where it will encourage Member States to invest further in youth engagement in UNESCO biosphere reserves. However, as stated in the MAB Youth Forum Declaration, young delegates also committed to work towards this objective, for example, by developing and promoting interactive tools or sharing information about the MAB Programme at all levels. For the young delegates of the Po Delta Biosphere Reserve in Italy, the MAB Youth Forum 2017 proved to be the ideal opportunity to create their own association for young people living in their biosphere reserve.
The final Declaration of the MAB Youth Forum emphasizes the importance of disseminating scientific and indigenous knowledge and supporting knowledge transmission to future generations. All the participants  supported the involvement of young people in local projects in biosphere reserves, with the aim of making them  “ambassadors for sustainable development” in their respective countries. For this reason, 25 young delegates of the Po Delta Biosphere Reserve decided to create the MY DELTA association to support and promote the MAB Programme and its commitment towards youth engagement. The working plan of the association involves collaboration with the local communities and support for activities in the biosphere reserve. It also includes  support for schools with a view to organizing meetings and workshops to present UNESCO’s MAB Programme, the story of the Po Delta Biosphere Reserve and support activities for young people living in the biosphere reserve.

Delegates from MY DELTA are encouraged to work with schools to develop related programmes and to strengthen ties between research institutions and local stakeholders. The young participants made a commitment to organize events with their local communities on diverse cultural, environmental and economic issues, and to train and encourage more young people to become active in their biosphere reserve.

The association founded in the Po Delta Biosphere Reserve represents a first step toward raising awareness among young people that live in these territories. The objective is to use local know-how to transmit the importance of the fragile ecosystems in these reserves and to focus attention on a key resource – youth!
One of the first activities of this newborn association was their contribution to the EU-China Light Bridge, an important event organized by the European Commission in celebration of 2018 EU-China Tourism Year. With the support of Parco del Delta del Po, MY DELTA organized a special bike tour across three bridges, which were lit up in red for the occasion: the Via Ponte de Barche in Boccasette, Porto Tolle; the Ponte di Barche sul Po di Gnocca in Santa Giulia, Taglio di Po; and Ponte di Barche sul Po di Goro in Gorino Veneto, Ariano nel Polesine. These bridges symbolize the friendship and communication between China and Italy. The event aimed to promote lesser-known destinations, improve travel and tourism experiences, and provide new opportunities to increase economic cooperation.

Collaboration with the other Italian Biosphere Reserves is the next step of MY DELTA, with a view to creating an Italian youth platform and network. The goal is to engage young people with different backgrounds, by taking the ideas and achievements of the young delegates who participated in the 2017 MAB Youth Forum in the Po Delta Biosphere Reserve and applying them to their respective biosphere reserves.