By Whitney Akinyi and Joyce Ojanji

In a resounding call for global action against climate and biodiversity crises, the Global Landscape Forum, in collaboration with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the World Agroforestry( ICRAF), is hosting an international conference to create a forum for collaboration and spark conversations about how Africa can achieve a prosperous and sustainable future.

Under the theme, “A New Vision for Earth,” the event shared commitment to addressing environmental and agricultural challenges with innovative and sustainable solutions. It underscored the urgency of reimagining our relationship with the Earth and taking collective action.

Eliane Ubalijoro,CEO CIFOR-ICRAF, noted that Africa has the existing solutions and the tools to develop new ones that the world needs.

Giving her opening remarks during the conference, Ubalijoro said, “We are living in a digital age characterised by interconnectedness and interdependence and therefore its time to take the best of this era, employing new tools like artificial intelligence and cutting edge research to address global challenges in an inclusive and responsible way.”

Dr.Elianne Ubalijoro, CEO CIFOR-ICRAF

She also highlighted the pivotal role of local communities in addressing climate change and building resilient food systems.

“Youth, women and indigenous people are the champions of landscape restoration and management, often operating with limited resources and against all odds. What could they achieve with better access to resources to strengthen their stewardship of nature in changing climate?” She posed.

Dr. Ubalijoro reiterated the importance of collaboration and knowledge sharing among key stakeholders, especially considering the ongoing climate crisis.

Ibrahim Thiaw, the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification said by degrading land, degrades the continent’s ability to produce sufficient and nutritious food, quality water and quality air.

He noted that Africa has suffered 44% of the world’s major droughts over the last 100 years. In the last 50 years, the continent has suffered economic damage of more than USD 70 billion, not to mention immense human hardship.

“Africa, which is very rich in ecosystems, traditions, and knowledge, holds a key. The continent has long practiced sustainable agriculture from the terraced fields of Rwanda to the agroforestry traditions of West Africa. It’s time to amplify these African led solutions, scaling them up and out,” urged Thiaw.

Jochen Flasbarth,State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) said the world’s resilience is directly related to the way the landscapes are protected and managed.

“Landscapes provide us with a wide array of ecosystems services and are the backbone of agriculture. Restoration projects ranging from soil restoration and rehabilitation over peatland rebuilding to restoration of forest landscapes offer a remarkable opportunity create new and green jobs . They are a good example of Synergies that can exist between environmental stewardship and economic prosperity,” Flasbarth said.

Phillis Njane, a policy analyst from the Ministry of Agriculture, highlighted the government’s dedication to inclusion, discussing policies and legal frameworks that support the active involvement of women and youth in agriculture and the broader landscape-related matters.

She talked about the “Enable Youth Platform,” a government initiative designed to engage the younger generation in critical climate and agricultural discussions.

She also emphasized the role of digital platforms in disseminating research findings to local communities, effectively bridging the gap between the lab and the land.

Jenice Achieng, the country representative from the Young Professionals for Agriculture Development (YPAD), delivered a compelling address where she emphasized the organization’s mission to empower youth in contributing to sustainable food systems by sharing knowledge and creating a network platform.

Achieng encouraged attendees to explore the numerous opportunities available within the agricultural sector, fostering innovation and sustainable practices.

Indigenous leaders, primarily from the Maa Community in Kenya expressed their concerns regarding landscape-related issues that disproportionately affect their communities. Their presence served as a poignant reminder of the need for collaborative efforts to address these challenges and ensure that no one is left behind.

The Global Landscape Forum (GLF) Nairobi 2023 Hybrid Conference has brought together scientists, activists, indigenous leaders, financiers, women, youth, policy makers and private sector to discuss ways to transform food systems, secure land rights and restore landscapes through African- led solutions .