Beatriz Zavariz will be pitching an idea or recommendation at the youth session on the GLF theme of ‘implementation of integrated landscape approaches’.
Beginning when I was three years old and my father took me to shrimp and tomato farms in Sinaloa Mexico, I grew interested in the connections between the land and human populations. In college I focused on biological sciences because I was intrigued by systems. I see living beings, ecosystems and landscapes as dynamic entities where everything is interconnected to function harmoniously. I explored this perspective with my bachelors’ research to define the abiotic dynamics in a micro watershed where a lake holds an endemic fish species.
Soon after graduation, I earned the opportunity of working at a financial institution that promoted agricultural productivity for rural development. I managed a network of consultants who supported farmers to improve their productivity and thereby their income. I was making a difference in the livelihoods of rural communities through my job. However, I learned that production goals were not fully connected with goals for sustainability of the natural system. To change this trend, I decided learn more about environmental policy and economics.
For the last two years I studied at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies to get my Masters of Environmental Management. I specialized in sustainable agriculture policy. My master’s project focused on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA). CSA integrates adaptation, mitigation and productivity goals for development and does so through landscape approaches. In my research learned that Mexico is making significant progress towards climate smart agriculture. For example, many farmers are no longer tilling their land and turning to drip irrigation as a means to sustain their soils and increase production efficiency to and mitigate climate change. Nonetheless, I also learned that there is space to grow in land use sustainability. For example, I found that agriculture professionals frequently think solely within their experience boundaries missing opportunities from cross sectoral synergies.
After I graduated, I came to work at the Mexican Civil Council for Sustainable Silviculture to complement the knowledge I gained in sustainable agriculture with experience in the forestry sector. I am now promoting policies that ensure the development of indigenous forest management for ecosystem conservation and climate change mitigation. While our NGO is an exception because it is testing landscape approaches in two key forest regions in Mexico, I am learning that the forestry sector in general is no different from the agriculture sector. Forest policy makers and forest enterprises focus a lot on wood production and overlook the opportunity to diversify their production by engaging in discussions with farmers. Farmers and foresters need to speak more to each other to develop effective landscape management. Even institutionally, in Mexico, forestry and agriculture need to be in the same development agenda.
I decided to be a youth pitcher at the Global Landscapes Forum to convince sector specialists to break their siloed approach and collaborate for the sake of sustaining landscapes as natural systems.I believe Mexico’s land use policy could be more integral and coordinated if greater emphasis were placed on intersectoral synergies. By focusing on synergies and speaking the right words to the right people I can change minds and change Mexico’s land use practices. At the landscapes forum I will work with a group of talented young people to come up with creative solutions to land use problems and; with the training I acquire I will speak to decision makers and policy specialists. Exactly the exposure I need to come back and make a difference in Mexico.
I look forward to attending the Youth event at the global landscapes forum and learning from leading landscape specialists. I am excited to learn and bring ideas back to my country in order to improve its landscape management. See you soon!
This belongs to a blog series profiling youth and leadership in landscapes. Tell us your youth story – submit blogs to [email protected].