10 December 2015
Frank Hajek

“We are all equally important”: 3 take-aways from GLF 2015

I came to my third Global Landscapes Forum (GLF15) to present a prototype ecosystem services transaction tool we are developing, but more importantly to gain new insights about how our company, Nature Services Peru, can work to make Peru a country where people live well, in harmony with nature. We know that human pressures on ecosystems and the planet are already massive and will increase even more over the next 30 years.

Therefore, we need radical innovations and transformational change in private companies and society as a whole to address the challenge. I believe that better integrating the services of nature into the economy is one of those innovations. The Global Landscapes Forum itself is a key institutional innovation, and it is a pleasure to see it growing stronger every year. From this year´s event I will take back three main messages about landscapes for our team:

Data collection and display technology are unprecedented

From satellites, to drones, to tablets, to apps: Our capacity to collect, process and display environmental data is evolving exponentially. We better understand and value the services of ecological infrastructure. On the cautionary side, there is an inherent challenge, mentioned by Nancy Harris from the World Resources Institute (WRI) quoting EO Wilson: “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.”

We are all equally important

Financiers’ argue that their funds are indispensable. Scientists think their data and analysis are key. Indigenous peoples think their stewardship of land is vital. Youth feel their energy is unique. Gender specialists think much more balance is needed.

Fighting climate change and sustaining healthy landscapes seems to require all our input. Learning to work in multidisciplinary and complex teams, as well as respecting the opinions and differences of others, will be part and parcel of how we work on landscapes from now on.

We need to transcend

Probably the most valuable insight I am taking away from the Forum is that, nowadays, young people have a need to transcend. This was not the case when I left university. Back then the emphasis was on whether you got an exciting or well-paid job. The most talented young people now seem to be looking for opportunities that allow them to contribute to something bigger than themselves and bigger than the organizations they are joining. A feeling of shared purpose is emerging which is inspiring for those of us born in the 70s and 80s. Landscape management companies and institutions combatting climate change should stand to benefit enormously from this generational shift.

The time for action has come

A little queuña tree about to take root in the community of Patacancha.

A little queuña tree about to take root in the community of Patacancha.

Another powerful quote came from Credit Suisse manager Mark Burrows: “No army can stop an idea whose time has come.” While I was at the COP21, my wife and kids were planting indigenous trees high in the Peruvian Andes as part of the Queuña Raymi Festival. They planted 101 of the amazing target of 75,000 queuña trees this year, beating the 82 trees we planted together in 2014. I am proud of them and the people who organize Queuña Raymi, not unlike the way I am proud of and grateful to the many people who organized a great 2015 Global Landscapes Forum.

As I prepare to board my 0.8 ton emissions flight back to Cusco, I feel we have been aware of the key ideas to combat climate change for a while now. The time for widespread action has long since come. Scaling action cannot wait any longer. Every day and every week is valuable.