What if change-makers, scientists, politicians, private companies and inquisitive students all gather under the same roof? On the first weekend of December 2018, some of our first year master and PhD students and a Tropical Forestry alumni had the opportunity to visit the Global Landscapes Forum 2018 in Bonn. The following is the account from the Tharandt team: Nga and Kendisha (PhD candidates) and Vianny (alumni and research assistant at the Chair of Forest Biometry and Forest Systems Analysis).
What are interesting topics have you learned during the GLF?
Nga: Territorial development- Managing landscapes for the rural future. “It is for territorial approach!”, was a strong statement by Dr. Stefan Schmitz, Deputy Director-General and Commissioner for “One World No Hunger” Initiative, followed by a thoughtful reminder that people do not live in individual sectors but spaces, places and territories. The panelists, who are rich in both knowledge and experiences in rural development from global leading development organizations such as FAO, OECD, and EcoAgriculture, further urged for transformational shift from sectorial-wise to a more holistic and territorial perspectives for inclusive and sustainable rural development. This is because territorial approaches aim for coherences and integration in rural development and natural resource management, fostering coordination across levels of governance to localize development strategies and building on collaboration between public and private sectors. Looking back to Vietnam, where I come from, and where it is dominated by rigidly framed sectoral policies with isolated interventions, rural communities are struggling to achieve the balance between landscape conservations and their daily livelihoods. I am enlightened and hopeful to see landscape and territorial approaches gain more momentums from global levels, which is believed to be transformed to regional, national and local levels with the matter of time.
Kendisha: PANORAMA. It’s a portal to document local success stories, covering ecosystem-based adaptation, protected areas, agriculture and biodiversity, marine and coastal, and business engagement. In this globalized world, it has become increasingly important to share your knowledge or be inspired by the different models you might be able to adapt for your case. It’s a manifestation of open science. This panel discussion was also the most interactive one I attended. We had the opportunity to explore the portal and exchanged what we found.
Vianny: Nothing much new. A criticism is on WWF who is engaged with large-scale forest plantation, which can increase the risk of land grabbing, deterioration and threat to poverty. A solution would be a cooperation between large- and small-scale, or provide capacity building and improve tree management and market access, until an upscale to the regional level is possible. Nonetheless, interesting is the side event about Decision Support Framework from FAO and WOCAT. It’s a decision making framework or tool, which is good for assessing degradation and designing approaches in sustainable landscape management.
Who is/are the most inspiring actor(s) you got to know during the event?
Kendisha: My highlight was getting to know H.E. Siti Nurbaya, Indonesia’s Minister for Environment and Forestry and her team. There were actually many inspiring people I had the honor to meet and shake hands with! One of them is definitely Dennis Garrity from ICRAF in Nairobi. Turns out, he also used to work in Bogor, Indonesia, in the 90s and was the one founding ICRAF in Indonesia. Another one is the founder of ECOSIA, Christian Kroll. I’ve been a user of ECOSIA since a long time myself, so it is an honor to meet the entrepreneur behind it.
Vianny: Yocuba Sawadogo, the alternate nobel prize winner and a landscape hero from Burkina Faso. It’s always great to learn from the elderly.
Which project would you like to be involved in?
Nga: I am currently working on a project related to bamboo and rural development under forest landscape restoration (FLR) approach in Vietnam. One of my research ambitions is to inform/advocate policy makers in Vietnam on realizing the roles of bamboo in landscape restoration thanks to its unique ecological and livelihood functionalities. Yet, this is not an easy task. Fortunately, bamboo and landscape restoration was one of foci of the GLF 2018. While INBAR and FAO presented the great potentials of engaging bamboo and economic development in the global South, Clean Power Indonesia, a bamboo-based biomass power generation project, shed light on the enormous possibilities of integrating bamboo, bioenergy and landscape restoration in the tropics. For example, over 30 million Indonesian in the most remote areas of over 4000 islands could not access to reliable powers, local based resources such as bamboo could be a viable option. Getting to know these bamboo-related initiatives strengthen my research interests, ideas and ambitions in integrating bamboo and FLR.
What are your key messages to encourage students in attending conferences?
Nga: Network! Network! Network!
Network is important to everyone, particularly for international students like me. Joining these conferences has given me privileged opportunities to meet like-minded people, be inspired, exchange ideas, and stay tuned for upcoming collaborations. Particularly, there is a chance that you could get a mentor, who could be senior researchers, practitioners, policy makers who could be kindly enough to guide you along your study and career!
Let your voice be heard!
Honestly, it was a bit overwhelming for me, us, as students, at first to get involved into such a global-wide conference with over 1500 delegates. However, be actively engaged in discussions and let your voice heard. I found that the nature of these discussions are often a bit high level and idealistic. Therefore, be confident, share your practical experiences and there are chances to get those high-level ideas a reality check!
Kendisha: Make the most out of it!
I am really impressed to see some of our MSc students being involved in the GLF Youth. One of them was involved in the field work of a CIFOR project in Peru on rural migration and forest-based livelihoods. Another one was supporting the GIZ with its virtual reality stand. Make use of the opportunity to volunteer or the mentorship program. I actually enrolled for the mentorship program, but unfortunately my mentor was not even attending the GLF, but the idea is great – I agree with Nga. Also, be brave and use the opportunity to “flirt”. You like the speech done by the Director General of CIFOR? Or the minister? Then go approach the person and say, “Hello, I really admired what you say, let me introduce myself ….” You got their name card or e-mail? Great! Drop them an e-mail to stay in touch.