The youth session
During The second Global Landscapes Forum
on the sidelines of UNFCCC COP20
6 December, 2014
“I’m tired of hearing the young generation are the future. Why? Because it implies that group is marginal. We tend to be involved in these decision-making processes because youth is ‘colorful,’ youth is ‘dynamic.’ But actually what we require is to be seriously and honestly involved at the centre of processes.”
Florent Kaiser, former president of the International Forestry Students Association
At the Global Landscapes Forum youth session, 100 young people under 30 – along with 50 senior professionals – divided into groups to discuss key issues in forestry and brainstorm innovative ideas for integrated land use.
Each group centered around one of the themes of the Global Landscapes Forum: integrated landscape approaches; climate change; the green economy; and sustainable development.
One member of each group then pitched their idea to a ‘dragons’ den’ of science and policy experts for critical feedback and advice.
Below are a summary of the discussions and pitches.
Implementation of integrated landscape approaches
In this discussion, youth convened on an idea to improve landscape approach implementation. In particular, on how to level the uneven distributions of power and capacities among stakeholders in a potential fracking landscape. Youth employed a fictional case study as the center of negotiation that could help them identify challenges and opportunities.
- See our online discussion: Fracking: Can communities, governments and businesses agree on an integrated approach?
- Participants were assigned the roles of each of the seven stakeholders: The indigenous Ambrosian community; The Ambrosian Farmers Association; The Climate Change Reduction Committee; Local community members concerned about water quality; The National Protected Areas Commission; North Ambrosia Forest Commission; Save Our Forests; The Ambrosia Mining Corporation
- We facilitated a negotiation between the stakeholders. Negotiation tended to focus on requests that unpowered stakeholders could make to the mining company that has been granted a permit to exploit a forested region.
- The discussions were centered around four legislations: the climate change law, the indigenous rights act, the clean water act and the forest protection act.
- After discussions finished. We asked participants to conclude with recommendations on how to solve the challenges they encountered during their discussion.
We asked Irene Hofmeijer, youth liaison to UNFCCC from Peru to give a message to Peru´s Environmental Minister on how to improve landscape approaches. Our recommendation is twofold: 1) to have a local stakeholder negotiation platform with direct funding aimed in part at developing capacities of the less unpowered stakeholders; 2) to have data in landscapes be public and transparent, such as data from Environmental Impact Assessments, in order to even power distributions.
Participants in the discussion were very engaging and came prepared with many interesting ideas to share. The recommendations we gave to the dragons den were innovative and addressed key current challenges in landscape approaches such as capacities and power dynamics. We believe direct and independent funding is critical to ensure the long term sustainability of democratic governance structures.
Forests, agriculture, mountains and land-use in the new climate regime
We looked more deeply at the possible ways in which youth can ensure that REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programs address drivers of deforestation. Our group of 40 participants combined shared their insights to find collaborative solutions to address the issue of drivers of deforestation vis-a-vis implementation of REDD+.
- See our online discussion: How can youth ensure REDD+ initiatives address oil palm expansion?
- The first step in the process was to identify the current implementation gaps and challenges of the REDD+ mechanism. These strategies to curb carbon emissions through avoided deforestation and forest degradation do little to actually tackle the root causes of deforestation. We believe that there is a need to rethink REDD+ implementation initiatives and also provide an open platform for youth involvement in this process. We identified strategies to address these challenges and how to overcome the current implementation gaps of REDD+ identifying potential opportunities for youth to be more actively involved in these activities.
- If we want REDD+ programs to be successful, there needs to be a clear understanding of the benefits and co-benefits, how they work, and who are the sectors involved. It is important to understand that if we continue to work without strategic partnerships nothing will ever be agreed upon. The youth identified this as a critical challenge but also as a promising strategy mainly because the issue of addressing drivers of deforestation involves other sectors. We, young professionals, see this as an opportunity to be the mediators between these different and often conflicting sectors creating spaces for dialogue, ensuring compliance with the law, especially in regards to land ownership issues.
- The second strategy proposes a multilevel approach to increase the capacity building of the different sectors including the youth in terms of lobbying and pushing the different governments to come up with agreements and commitments at the national and local level, as well as across different sectors. Third main recommendation is to increase and improve the quality of environmental education, awareness and youth participation in REDD+ programs.
We pitched the idea that youth have the potential to be mediators between the agriculture and environment sectors in the process of developing multilevel strategies to address deforestation and proposed a more holistic approach to the implementation of current REDD+ across all the sectors involved.
We aimed to develop solutions to the most pressing challenges of REDD+ programs when it comes to addressing drivers of deforestation. We proposed that current policies need to be reevaluated and strategies need to be carrying out at different scales in order to have a higher rate of participation from all the sectors and stakeholders. Within this platform, it is highly important the presence of youth as key mediators across sectors to identify the gaps in the system and bring their young and passionate perspective to the roundtable discussion and decision making processes.
Green Economy and Sustainable Investments
As a team, we were excited for the opportunity to participate in the youth session of the Global Landscapes Forum. In order to give context, we focused our discussion on supply chain practices and management. Our group of 30 participants combined expertise from all levels of supply chains with youthful perspectives and a passion to change the status quo.
- See our online discussion: How sustainable is your food supply chain?
- We framed our conversation by identifying the “green economy” we want to have. We no longer recognize GDP as an accurate economic value, and seek ways to value intact ecosystems and human livelihood over profit. We want supply chains to be shortened, we want markets to be decentralized, and we want to eliminate waste from the supply chains- also known as a circle economy.
- After a dynamic activity illustrating supply chains, we identified the major barriers to our ideal economy. We found longer supply chains obscure communication and transparency between actors, diluting the product and complicating the transition from source to waste. Often, consumers don’t really know where the product came from, and how it came to be there. So while the demand for sustainably sourced products may exist, the information to choose accurately is still unavailable to consumers.
- We brainstormed solutions to the problem of long supply chains and lack of information. Our first step of action is shortening supply chains by creating and supporting localized markets, and limiting waste. This is something we can all start doing today: buy local and recycle. We also propose the creation of “livelihood incentives” to replace incentives for extractive industries, in order to promote innovation for the quality of life in ecosystems and human communities. Finally, we advocate for inter-agency campaigns to promote traceability and platforms containing data about supply chains.
We pitched the idea of an online platform in order to upload and access data regarding supply chains. We asked Rachel Kyte, VP of the World Bank, for a grant to get this application live, in order to crowdsource data needed for supply chain transparency. This idea goes hand in hand with an initiative (7Cs) being designed and launched in Peru: http://www.libelula.com.pe/, in order to increase consumer awareness of corporate responsibility practices.
Overall, we seek to decentralize market power, advocate localized markets, and to shorten supply chains. We want all levels of supply chains to be visible to the public, and we want to replace perverse market incentives with programs that will prioritize ethical sourcing, waste management, and transparency. But most importantly, we need to find ways to spread this information rapidly and effectively in order to mitigate rising global temperatures.
How can we address rural-urban migration of youth in post-2015 development agenda?
The session attracted 30 participants from a range of backgrounds and different age groups- professionals, civil society representatives and students- the majority of whom were from the youth constituency.
The discussions highlighted the role of global youth as key stakeholders and future leaders of society and the need to for young people to be given the platform and to actively take the opportunity to set up the agenda for the future.
Participants prioritized issues related to youth and landscapes to make specific recommendations to be submitted to policy makers for the ongoing negotiation process at the United Nations level on a global Post-2015 Development Agenda.
The discussions were lively and in-depth and highlighted the level of passion and concern participants had about the issue.
The guiding questions were:
- In what ways do you think young people in rural areas contribute to the sustainable use and management of landscapes (do you have any particular experiences or examples)?
- What, in your opinion or experience, are the main challenges that hinder or limit rural youth from focusing their time or career in managing landscapes and natural resources?
- How can the interests of rural youth be more effectively integrated in terms of topics, goals, targets and financing in the proposed SDGs?
- How can we create the necessary conditions to enable rural youth to sustainably manage landscapes and contribute to global food security?
These were also explored in a series of online discussions: How can we address rural-urban migration of youth in the post-2015 development agenda?
The main conclusions highlighted:
– Rural youth have the potential to contribute to global food security and sustainable development
– They are in a specially potential role to contribute to the management of landscapes as they are open to new technologies and incentives, are willing to take risks and have special values and connections to natural resources around them
– These rural youth also face many challenges when making the decision to stay in rural areas that are connected to the lack of opportunities, the perception of the low value of their profession, discrimination and lack of connections to urban areas
– The priority conditions that should be ensured to support rural youth include:
- Access to health services and education
- Access to financial and productive resources like water, land and credits
- Secured land tenure and effective governance of natural resources
- Infrastructure in terms of roads, communication technologies and access to markets
- Transportation and road networks
– In order to achieve the above mentioned conditions rural youth should engage in decision-making and policy processes.
– The importance of considering the gender dimension of the discussion. One participant noted that to be from a rural area and to be female compounded the challenge
– They raised questions about the inevitability of rural areas becoming isolated as cities continue to outgrow whole countries
– There were questions about growing food production mechanisms which reduce reliance on traditional agricultural practices and even the need for ‘soil’
– The challenges posed by climate change to agricultural viability may further reduce the sustainability of rural agricultural landscapes.
– One concrete action towards raising the perception of youth in urban and rural areas can be the implementation of an advocacy campaign to raise awareness on the origin of food products that highlights the important role of youth working in agriculture to achieve global food security and the sustainable management of landscapes.
In our pitch at the dragon’s den, we emphasised the importance of recognising and advancing the value and the role of rural youth in contributing to global future security and sustainable landscapes management. Our ask to the panelists was two-fold;
1- to convey and incorporate the key priority areas (provision of education and health facilities; access to infrastructure, financial and productive resources, securing land tenure) in their discussions and work with other stakeholders and in their constituencies, with particular attention to including these youth voices and priorities in their plenaries and high- level discussions at this very conference.
2- To support (whether through mobilising resources and research or by spreading to their networks or by providing expert advice) the design and application of a global advocacy campaign to raises awareness in important rural youth contribution to global food security and sustainable development.
Key campaign themes to include:
“our food: from where and from whom does it come”
“boosting pride amongst rural youth by highlighting their valuable contributions and supporting their investments in landscapes management “