Speakers at the Global Landscapes Forum Bonn Digital Conference call for action to feed the world in more sustainable and resilient ways
Bonn (Germany), 9 June 2020— On 3-5 June, Dr. Jane Goodall, Indian Yogi Sadhguru and more than 300 other speakers reimagined the future of food amid recovery plans from the COVID-19 pandemic in a global first: the largest-ever Global Landscapes Forum digital conference with 5,000 people from 185 countries. The event’s outcomes were twofold: tackling the transformation of global food systems and laying the foundation for global climate change conferences by bringing people together in a carbon-saving, interactive digital space.
“These kinds of events are what digital does well,” said media theorist from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Douglas Rushkoff during a session on media consumption and how it shapes narratives. “We need more [events] like this, rather than killing the planet.”
The intimate link between human and planetary health ran as a thread through the 60 sessions and 130 virtual meetups of the event – a conference that assembled top scientists, policy-makers and representatives of organizations such as FAO, WWF, UNEP and the World Bank, alongside Indigenous activists, leaders of the youth climate movement, Dr. Jane Goodall, an astronaut, a Vatican representative, pioneers of environmental journalism, farmers and landscape restoration actors.
“I can’t believe it. I am in the middle of the nomadic Mongolian countryside and enjoying the Global Landscapes Forum [Digital Conference]. Thanks to the digital world,” said one participant.
As social and climate justice comes ever more into the spotlight in countries across the globe, and in the wake of other major climate change events including COP 26 being canceled due to COVID-19, the digital format of the event saw more inclusivity and drastically reduced emissions as compared to multi-day in-person events.
And as countries draft recovery plans from COVID-19, experts see an unprecedented opportunity to ‘build back better,’ including through integrated land-use planning that can support climate change goals, more sustainable and resilient food systems and equitable human rights. This requires designing systems that support small farmers and eating locally, pillared on cross-sector policies, subsidies that promote the conservation of natural resources, and stimulus packages that seek to advance international commitments including the Paris Agreement, the Biodiversity Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Jane Goodall, founder of The Jane Goodall Institute and a United Nations Messenger of Peace highlighted what was necessary to move forward: “Small-scale family farming, diversity of crops, engaging the local people and helping them understand the need for conservation, and giving them the tools so that they could do conservation for themselves,” she said.
“I’m immensely thankful to the [GLF] organizers for making such a huge and important event accessible or everyone in the world by doing it all online,” said a participant from El Salvador. “I would never have been able to afford it.”
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