By Sara Mancinelli, a Youth In Landscapes Network Intern
Twenty countries, 28 minds and hearts, and a youth program that yearns to be rooted in regional needs and expectations: meet the 2022 GLF Youth Project Teams.
A GLF Youth Project Team is a group of young, passionate and motivated experts from all over the world who collaboratively plan, design and develop projects and activities for the GLF Youth Program while also engaging with various GLF events.
This year, the Project Teams are following a regional approach featuring three teams representing Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), and Asia and the Pacific respectively. The three teams are coordinated respectively by the 2022 Youth in Landscapes Network Interns: Elivis (Africa), Pê (LAC) and Sara (Asia-Pacific). Each Project Team also includes members of the Youth in Landscapes Initiative Network, including representatives from IFSA, Youth4Nature and YPARD, as well as other regional partners and Restoration Stewards.
To young professionals working to address the socio-ecological crises, the challenges may sometimes seem insurmountable. But it is exactly in these moments that you realize that the task is much easier when the burden is shared with others.
A month after the Project Teams were launched, we sat down – virtually, of course – to draw a first picture of the new teams and upcoming events.
Why is it important to adopt a regional approach?
Regionalization can offer engagement and networking opportunities while also putting a spotlight on the different needs and requirements of each region. It enables us to discuss and raise topics that may have been forgotten by international narratives but are instead the only relevant ones to people’s lives and landscapes.
“Not only is [regionalization] more practical, as it is easier to get involved,” says Pê, “but it also allows us to highlight the challenges that a particular region is facing. You are not alone, and we hear you.”
“The regional approach allows us to give voices to real-life experiences as well as local solutions”, adds Elivis. “We face the same challenges, but the magnitude of the impact is not the same.”
Deforestation in Africa requires different solutions from those in Latin America or in Asia. While the overarching challenges and issues might be similar across regions, their causes and consequences may not be. As such, it is crucial to provide a space where the complexities, diversity and different responsibilities are taken into consideration to facilitate learning, build community and come up with pathways and solutions. A regional and local approach means adopting a practice of meaningful participation where we actively listen to each other and understand how our unique experiences can be valuable.
What are the main themes emerging from each Project Team?
So far, the LAC Team is focusing on transversal environmental challenges faced by the region, such as deforestation, the expansion of the agricultural frontier, and resulting issues such as water insecurity and land rights. The team’s discussions highlight the need to refer to Amerindian and traditional communities’ perspectives in pursuing a sustainable and inclusive future.
The Africa Team has zoomed into “decolonializing narratives” and how the African story is being told in modern history, while exploring nature-based solutions, traditional knowledge, and the role of renewable energies and other technologies in adapting to the climate crisis and building a different present and future for young generations.
Lastly, the Asia-Pacific Team is looking for cross-cutting perspectives due to the region’s social and environmental diversity, which is difficult to unify under a single umbrella. To do so, the team is looking at marine and coastal plastic pollution, mangrove restoration, sustainable ecotourism, and how to prevent forest wildfires.
What events do the Project Teams have planned?
On 22 April, we launched the Young African Landscape Leadership Program with the aim of connecting, supporting, and integrating young leaders across Africa into GLF events.
In mid-May, the Asia-Pacific Project Team will host a youth-led GLF Live on marine plastic pollution and circular economy with three incredible young speakers.
After that, we will dive into the youth-led GLF LAC Week at the end of June, full of exciting sessions and activities dedicated to shedding light to inspiring experiences of youth climate activists and professionals in the region. The event will discuss alternatives to the dominant extractivist developmental paradigm in LAC while exploring cross-cutting themes which characterize landscapes in Latin America and the Caribbean, such as deforestation and the expansion of the agricultural frontier, landscape conservation, and the accumulated knowledge of indigenous and traditional communities.
It is not always easy to come together, especially across different time zones and through a computer screen. It is hard work, and you have to be a great listener. But once you listen, and listen properly, you finally find a harmony of perspectives based on the shared desire to build a better place for everyone – an ambition that connects all of us from every corner of the world.