IFAW unites 34 young conservation leaders and CITES decision makers at VIP event

At a standing room only event, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) was delighted to bring together CITES decision makers and delegation members, global media and the 34 young conservation and animal welfare leaders together.

This gathering took place in Johannesburg at the close of our Youth Forum for People and Wildlife and just before the opening of CITES, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, on Saturday.

It was a unique opportunity for the Youth Forum delegates, who range in age from 18-25 and are just starting their careers, to showcase their achievements and perspectives, and bring their energy and enthusiasm to discussions with experienced, global experts on wildlife trade.

IFAW CEO and head of our CITES delegation Azzedine Downes hosted the evening which featured remarks from John Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES; and Dan Ashe, Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, who along with the government of South Africa has submitted a resolution to CITES to include youth on an ongoing basis.


Following a dynamic video with highlights from the week of Youth Forum activities, the 34 delegates were introduced to a round of applause and cheers.

As South African musicians Charles Summerfield and Uhadi played, the delegates took questions and engaged guests while stationed next to posters about their work placed about the room.

The combination of CITES delegates, international media, and committed, passionate youth advocates made for an engaging and inspirational evening.

We knew throughout the Youth Forum that friendships and connections being made would form a support network for these courageous and dedicated young conservation leaders.  But at this event we saw the seasoned CITES delegates energized by the potential and strength they saw in these young people.

All in all, it was an exciting and inspirational way to lead us all into the serious business of the CITES meeting, during which we can all draw strength from the hope and perseverance embodied by the diverse members of a growing network for change represented in that room.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Jimmiel Mandima at IFAW
Deputy Vice President of Conservation
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime