On November 16th, hundreds of people gathered at the Kenzi Club Agdal Medina in Marrakech, Morocco at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) to discuss how countries can realize the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and their national climate commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement through an integrated landscape approach. Put differently, the forum sought to facilitate a discussion about how changing the way we use land, particularly degraded land, can benefit both people and the climate.
Attending this forum made perfect sense for EDN because what was being discussed is closely linked to the actions being taken as part of its Trees for the Earth campaign. As some of you may know, EDNs Trees for the Earth campaigns seeks to spur the planting of 7.8 billion trees by 2020, one for every person projected to be living on the planet in that year. Like many of the other attendees at the GLF, EDN is dedicated to achieving this ambitious goal in a way that improves people’s livelihoods and aids developing countries in meeting their climate change commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement.
Throughout the day-long forum, there were many interesting panels and discussion on subjects related to sustainable landscapes. During one panel in the morning, for example, the Minster of Environment for Costa Rica, Dr. Edgar E. Gutierrez Espeleta, spoke about how his country had been severely deforested in the not too distant past but had managed to regain a significant amount of that lost forest cover by pioneering innovative ways to protect the environment and promote livelihoods, such as paying people to protect the ecosystems on their property.
As the day continued, some panels focused on topics such as measuring and tracking progress towards climate goals in the landscape and mobilizing private sector financing for restoration, while others aimed to bring together people with different perspectives to stimulate discussion about how best to realize climate solutions. Among the diverse group contributing to the dialogue were people such as the Executive Director of UN Environment Erik Solheim, Hindou Ibrahim from the Indigenous Women and Peoples Association of Chad, Wanjira Mathai, the daughter of the late Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai, and Christoph Thies, a forest campaigner from Greenpeace. This varied representation made for an interesting exchange of ideas and even some tense moments. For instance, at one point Blairo Maggi, the Minister of Agriculture for Brazil who is also known as the “Soybean King,” was pointedly questioned about how he could paint such a rosy picture of the environmental situation in Brazil when it was currently the most dangerous place in the world for environmental activists.
A forum such as this is an important event, because it represents the growing recognition of the role the land sector should play when it comes to tackling climate change and pursuing sustainable, resilient and carbon-neutral development. For this reason alone, the success of the GLF forum is very positive. EDN hopes that kinds of spaces continue to thrive and looks forward to playing its role in helping countries meet their climate pledges through reforestation.