GLF Nairobi conference: A new vision for Earth

The GLF Nairobi 2023 Hybrid Conference: A New Vision for Earth took place online and in Nairobi, Kenya on 11th and 12th October 2023., gathering leading scientists, activists, Indigenous leaders, financiers, women, youth, policymakers, the private sector, and more. 

Day 1 focused on African sovereign solutions exploring pathways to a sustainable and prosperous future for the continent; and day 2 focused on climate change and planet, and on local solutions to the global climate crisis,

GLF Nairobi brought together a diverse coalition of influential voices, ranging from scientists, activists, and Indigenous leaders to financiers, women, youth, policymakers, and private sector representatives.

Africa sovereign solutions

On day one, different speakers outlined numerous ways that Africa and its people can build resilience to the climate crisis and other ecological challenges. 

 “We have existing solutions and the tools to develop new ones that the world truly needs, … and we come together, we can go beyond surviving – to thriving. We are living in a digital age, characterized by interconnectedness and interdependence. It’s time to take the best of this era – employing tools like artificial intelligence and cutting-edge research to address global challenges in an inclusive and responsible way. It’s time to ensure that knowledge and wisdom from around the world are shared with those who need it most. Our work, in collaboration with our partners, provides tangible solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our time.”  said Éliane Ubalijoro, CEO of the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) and Director General of ICRAF opening the forum.

 “Our resilience is directly related to the way we protect and manage our landscapes,” said Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).  “Landscapes provide us with a wide array of ecosystem 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 to create new and green jobs. They are a good example of the synergies that can exist between environmental stewardship and economic prosperity.” 

 “We cannot talk about transforming food systems in a country like Kenya and most of Africa without really putting farmers in the center of it, 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.” Explained  Daniel M’Mailutha, CEO of the Kenya National Farmers’ Federation (KENAFF). 

 “Up to 40% of the world’s land is degraded, directly affecting half of the world’s population,..“By degrading land, we degrade our ability to produce sufficient and nutritious food, quality water and quality air. 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.” explained Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). 

 “We are encouraging the use of biodiverse and local food, and for this, we have a policy framework, a legal notice to require all millers to brand their products with the forgotten foods to ensure that local households are using more biodiverse foods that are local… “We need to make agriculture cool for everybody,” said Philis Njane, Deputy Director of Research and Innovation and an Agricultural Economist at the Ministry of Agriculture of Kenya. 

In Africa, and especially in my country today, the average farmer is sixty 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 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.” 

Survival Guide for a Planet in Crisis (GLF Climate)

On the second day 7,200 leading scientists, activists, Indigenous leaders, financiers, women, youth, policymakers, the private sector, and 235 speakers were in Nairobi and online from 130 countries to explore local solutions to the global climate crisis ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28). 

Every fraction of a degree matters. The sooner we can implement solutions to climate change, the sooner we can avoid irreversible losses and trigger critical climate tipping points,” said Éliane Ubalijoro, CEO of CIFOR-ICRAF. “We need to adopt a justice lens and think about how to decolonize our landscapes and heal our relationship with our land.”

We are indeed living a historic moment in the course of humankind, in which the ideals that brought us here are proving insufficient for us to be able to continue our journey on Earth with minimal conditions of dignity for human life and other forms of life,” said Marina Silva, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change of Brazil. “Now, the ideals that can help us save life and the planet are those that enable us to use natural resources wisely, to nurture, while also preserving these resources, safeguarding the necessary sufficiency of ecosystem services.

The Earth is living, and we need to get out of the illusion that she’s just a dead matter for extraction and exploitation,..We live in a miracle. My vision of the Earth is to understand scientifically what that miracle is about and live according to the laws: the laws of the Earth and the laws of living systems.”” said scholar, activist and author Vandana Shiva.

“In the grand scheme of things, humanity is a very young species,” said human rights and land defender Ayisha Siddiqa, co-founder of Polluters Out and Fossil Free University and a youth climate advisor to the UN Secretary General. “During our time on planet Earth, we’ve caused a great deal more damage than any species to come before us. But at the same time, I think because we are a miracle of the species with the ability to figure out what problems we are creating, we also have the ability to solve those problems at lightning speed.

We envision commodity value chains that are sustainable for people and the planet,” said Christopher Brett, Lead of the Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration (FOLUR) Impact Program. “Through FOLUR, we are sharing lessons learned from 27 countries across eight commodities, integrating smallholder farmers into markets and producing high-quality and sustainable commodities.” 

Transforming food systems to reduce environmental degradation and negative externalities requires integration of investments across entire supply chains and focusing on specific levers such as governance and policy, financial leverage, innovation, and multi-stakeholder dialogue; programmatic risk appetite to achieve impact at scale; and design for resilience,” said Peter Umunay, a Senior Environmental Specialist and Lead for the FOLUR and Food Systems Programs at the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Investments in landscapes are investments in local communities, national economies, and our shared planet,” said Hisham Osman, Senior Environmental Engineer at the World Bank. “Through PROGREEN, the World Bank and our development partners are charting a new vision for Earth that doesn’t only finance green projects – but one that builds green economies.

Throughout the day, a rich variety of ideas and aspirations were put forward for a new vision of Earth. But there was one consistent thread: if we’re going to achieve it, we’ll need an integrated approach that puts people and communities at its heart. Activities must be co-created, collaborative and backed up by clear data and science.

Don’t miss anything, most of the sessions is possible to watch on demand: GLF Nairobi 2023

Pictures from the GLF Nairobi 2023, day 1 and 2 ( source GLF )