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A New Vision for Earth
Participants from 130 countries met at the at the global conference GLF Nairobi 2023: A New Vision for Earth in Nairobi, Kenya, and online on the 11th and 12th October 2023 to discuss ways to transform food systems, secure land rights and restore landscapes through African-led solutions.
On day one, the participants focused on Africa’s role in forging sovereign solutions by and for its people, and on day two they explored local solutions to the global climate crisis ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28). During the event speakers showcased a range of solutions from all over Africa, from bamboo-based land regeneration and seed banks to agroecology and regional observatories.
“Our resilience is directly related to the way we protect and manage our landscapes,” Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) pointed out. “Landscapes provide us with a wide array of ecosystem services and are the backbone of agriculture. Restoration projects, ranging from soil restoration and rehabilitation to peatland rebuilding and restoration of forest landscapes, offer a remarkable opportunity to create new and green jobs. They are a good example of the synergies that can exist between environmental stewardship and economic prosperity.”
Making agriculture attractive for the youth
To achieve progress in creating sustainable agrifood systems, it is imperative to address the youth, speakers explained.
“In Africa, and especially in my country today, the average farmer is 60 years old. And yet, our nation is fairly youthful. That begs the question: who is going to feed us?” said Jenice Achieng, Kenya Country Representative of the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD). “We need to shift this narrative of going to the cities to get white-collar jobs and expose and show that there is a very big space in agriculture.”
“We cannot talk about transforming food systems in a country like Kenya and most of Africa without really putting farmers in the centre of it,” added Daniel M’Mailutha, CEO of the Kenya National Farmers’ Federation (KENAFF). “We need to make sure that farmers understand that it is in their self-interest to do what is right as far as the landscape is concerned.”
Compensation mechanisms for farmers
Smallholder farmers in the Global South make a significant contribution to the preservation of ecosystems and the provision of multi-functional services, yet in the current systems, they are not rewarded for it, Jan Brix, a BMZ senior policy officer, pointed out. “We need to find adequate compensation mechanisms for farmers to keep up and further incentivise sustainable practices that contribute to maintaining ecosystem services,” Brix said. “We need mechanisms in place that allow farmers to generate an income not only from agricultural production but also from payments for achieving positive external utilities.”