Intergenerational Dialogue, Collaboration, Learning, and Decision-Making in Global Environmental Governance: The Case of the IUCN Intergenerational Partnership for Sustainability
1. Introduction: Global Environmental Governance and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
It is well known that, among those who are preoccupied with the future of protected areas, there are a great many grey heads and far too few youthful ones. I am told that under-representation of the youth is a widespread phenomenon in many fields associated with protected area management. This is of course a matter for concern because without the involvement of the youth, the future cannot be secured .
Over the long term, IUCN’s Mission, and the global agenda for 2030, depend as much on people caring today as caring tomorrow; it depends as much on the leaders of today as the leaders of tomorrow. IUCN will ensure that young people can find their place in the 2017–2020 Programme, and challenge all parts of the Union to inspire youth to take forward the cause of conservation and sustainable development, but also to be inspired by the energy, passion and commitment of a new generation …. In particular, there is a need to inspire and engage youth and to promote stronger intergenerational partnerships. IUCN’s Commissions have a critical role to play in attracting and inspiring young people to value nature and to become involved in nature conservation and sustainability issues. .
2. Framing Intergenerational Collaboration: Dialogue, Learning, and Decision-Making in Global Environmental Governance
You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not. 
3. Approach: An Organizational Autoethnography
4. The Emergence of the IUCN Intergenerational Partnership for Sustainability (IPS)
4.1. The IUCN IPS: Toward Intergenerational Decision-Making
Young people are those who are currently feeling and will continue to feel the brunt of the depletion of natural resources, climate change, and the loss of biodiversity. Although some steps have been taken, the current economic and political system has shown almost no commitment to finding meaningful solutions to the ecological crisis. If trends continue at current rates, ecological disaster will devastate life on Earth, rendering all development efforts futile .
- improving communication and understanding between different generations;
- sustaining values in society, while allowing flexibility for change;
- enhancing decision-making related to sustainability;
- improving intergenerational equity; and
- ensuring better outcomes for sustainability projects.
4.2. Examples of Intergenerational Dialogue and Learning
- pairing individuals from different generations in “buddy” relationships to enhance exchange and learning on conservation;
- supporting young people to engage in pertinent scholarship and providing a platform for disseminating and applying their research;
- advocating for and co-designing meaningful internship opportunities for young people in the IUCN Secretariat, as well as in NGOs, governments, and businesses;
- advocating and securing funding for young people to be included in NGO and/or country delegations at global governance events for sustainability;
- encouraging youth organizations to engage in exchange and mutual learning with more senior professionals on projects and programs;
- encouraging networks and organizations from different generations to co-manage sustainable development and peace building projects; and,
- highlighting local and Indigenous communities in which exchange and learning is encouraged and practiced between generations, as well as highlighting parents and children living intergenerational partnership within and through their families.
4.2.1. The Buddy Experiment
- learning for young professionals (83%) and senior professionals (50%);
- exploring a career for young professionals (64%);
- professional development for young professionals (61%);
- stimulation of intergenerational partnerships (60%);
- improving mutual understanding between generations (58%);
- introducing young professionals to IUCN (55%);
- identifying new talent among young professionals (55%); and,
- attracting new members to IUCN and the Earth Charter (51%).
4.2.2. The iAct Dialogues for Sustainability
- “Stimulate intergenerational dialogue on sustainable planetary futures,
- Connect a global, intergenerational network of dialogue participants; and
- Inspire informed and innovative action among network members for sustainability outcomes.” 
4.3. Challenges to Active Engagement in Substantive Decision-Making
5. Discussion and Recommendations
- Institutionalize meaningful ways for youth to contribute to the mission of the IUCN by creating and funding positions for young professionals. In order to have an influence on global environmental governance through the IUCN, it is necessary for there to be concrete and meaningful roles for youth to contribute to the shaping of the structures, rules, and norms that are behind such institutions . As a first step, create official positions for young people within the IUCN Secretariat (including regional offices), on the Council, and on Commission Steering Committees. Through such roles, youth can collaborate with senior colleagues and mentors and play various roles in the Union, including participating in substantive decision-making relating to IUCN programmes and other governance forums, such as IUCN World Conservation Congresses. Formal institutionalization of youth roles within the IUCN holds great potential for enhancing the sustainability outcomes of programs delivered through the IUCN , as well as for enhancing the organizational adaptive capacity and resilience of the IUCN [29,30,31].
- Establish consistent and long-term financial support for the engagement and participation of youth and for intergenerational collaboration. Movements and formal organizations such as the IPS Task Force often struggle financially, work on highly limited capacity, and are often supported solely through volunteer hours (see Section 4). This type of financial inequality marginalizes youth and their allies from other generations and stifles intergenerational collaboration . Organizations like the IUCN work within specific funding streams and budgets, and need to be accountable for their staff time. We recommend that the terms of reference for all IUCN Secretariat staff (including regional office staff) integrate responsibilities for engaging young people and collaborating across generations. Appropriate positions across all programmatic areas should strongly encourage and seriously consider applications from young professionals. We recommend that youth engagement and intergenerational collaboration be embedded in the Union by transforming the IUCN IPS Task Force into a permanently funded “Office for Intergenerational Partnership for Sustainability” in the Secretariat and Regional Offices. IPS should be embedded as a priority strategy in each four-year IUCN Programme, accompanied by related budgetary items, and/or receive a permanent budget line that is not susceptible to changes in the IUCN Programme. The latter could take the form of the IPS Fund proposed in past resolutions.
- Implement official and continuous mechanisms for intergenerational dialogue, collaboration and two-directional learning. Mechanisms that support intergenerational dialogue, collaboration and two-directional learning will be essential for supporting adaptive governance and the resilience of global environmental governance . The Buddy Experiment and the iAct Dialogues for Sustainability are two key examples and road maps for other mechanisms which, if supported financially and otherwise, will enhance intergenerational collaboration across all programmatic areas of the IUCN. Such mechanisms connect generations through iterative processes that provide foundations adaptive governance, which is essential for multi-lateral organizations like the IUCN that are tasked with responding to and developing solutions at times of global environmental crisis [4,33].
- Integrate approaches that link conservation frameworks at the local level to global environmental governance processes. Intergenerational dialogue, collaboration, learning, and substantive decision-making at the global level will only create positive outcomes for environmental sustainability if such processes are informed by local-level knowledge and realities and lead to action on the ground. Therefore, it will be important that local people, including Indigenous peoples and people of different genders, races, cultures, and countries be involved in intergenerational global environmental governance. By creating stronger intergenerational links between the global and local levels, the potential for place-based knowledge to enter governance and for governance to affect local action will increase [4,60].
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Zurba, M.; Stucker, D.; Mwaura, G.; Burlando, C.; Rastogi, A.; Dhyani, S.; Koss, R. Intergenerational Dialogue, Collaboration, Learning, and Decision-Making in Global Environmental Governance: The Case of the IUCN Intergenerational Partnership for Sustainability. Sustainability 2020, 12, 498. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020498
Zurba M, Stucker D, Mwaura G, Burlando C, Rastogi A, Dhyani S, Koss R. Intergenerational Dialogue, Collaboration, Learning, and Decision-Making in Global Environmental Governance: The Case of the IUCN Intergenerational Partnership for Sustainability. Sustainability. 2020; 12(2):498. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020498Chicago/Turabian Style
Zurba, Melanie, Dominic Stucker, Grace Mwaura, Catie Burlando, Archi Rastogi, Shalini Dhyani, and Rebecca Koss. 2020. "Intergenerational Dialogue, Collaboration, Learning, and Decision-Making in Global Environmental Governance: The Case of the IUCN Intergenerational Partnership for Sustainability" Sustainability 12, no. 2: 498. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020498