About 800 participants attended the Africa Conference of the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Nairobi, Kenya end of August. This year’s African GLF, entitled “Prospects and Opportunities for Restoration in Africa”, had a strong focus on forestry and environment. The two-day event focused on challenges and opportunities of sustainable land management and rehabilitation. The Economics of Land Degradation initiative (ELD) organised a discussion forum that was part of the GLF programme.
Since 2017, the Secretariat of the Global Landscapes Forum has been based in Bonn, Germany. It has become the largest exchange and knowledge transfer platform world-wide on issues related to land and landscape management. During the last few years, the GLF has turned into a voice of the environmental, forestry and restoration community. Since its inception conference in Bonn in December 2017, the GLF, substantially funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), has developed into a platform for implementing agencies, the research community and decision-makers. In Nairobi, high-level speakers underlined its importance in co-operation and in co-ordination of land and landscape management efforts.
“A truly integrated approach, bringing together relevant sectors such as forestry, agriculture, energy and water as well as stakeholders from government, civil society and the private sector will be crucial,” stated Stefan Schmitz, Director-General and Commissioner of the BMZ’s One World – No Hunger initiative.
Alongside the conversations in the open corridors of the UN campus, side events supplemented the discussions and knowledge sharing. Topics covered included user rights, the implementation approaches for various land management measures, good governance, as well as food security.
The discussion forum "The future of our ecosystems – Costs and benefits of sustainable management" was arranged by the international ELD initiative, which is hosted by the Soil Protection, Desertification and Sustainable Land Management (BoDeN) project of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
The ELD initiative underlines the economic benefits that investing in sustainable land management measures offers. Economic figures and arguments can increase the political and public awareness of the costs and benefits of land and land-based ecosystems. Economics can also serve as a “language” to connect different sectors, such as environment and finance.
Eric Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment, stressed the need to move from a view of forests and green spaces as luxuries to one seeing them as absolutely vital to local economies.
“An economic approach to value the services which nature provides for humankind is not about putting a price on all of nature’s goods. Rather, it is about showing the costs and benefits of alternative environmental approaches and policies to decision-makers. This is especially valid in the agriculture and food production sector,” emphasised Alexander Müller, facilitator of the event and leader of the study The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for Agriculture and Food.
UN Environment representative Monica Lopez described the work on environmental economics of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the TEEB Initiative in different national contexts. Katalin Solymosi from Unique Forestry and Land Use, an international consulting firm that provides expert services and advice on forest management and sustainable land use, highlighted the benefits for small-scale farmers, focusing on a local example from Kenya.
The next Global Landscapes Forum takes place in Bonn, Germany in November 2018.
Mark Schauer, ELD initiative, GIZ Bonn, Germany
TEEB for agriculture and food: teebweb.org/agrifood/scientific-and-economic-foundations-report/