More scope for scape – Landscape!
This is Janek, and I am applying to be GLF Youth Ambassador. For what? To speak on your behalf, as an ambassador ought to, assuming you’re still on this side of the 30 (well, I can generously extend that to 35). The GLF is the Global Landscapes Forum, and when it comes to landscapes, you wanna have someone speak up for you. Landscapes do affect us a great deal. Don’t believe me? Well, maybe try to reverse your detachment from Mother Earth.
Personally, I first got excited about the topic when volunteering in the Dominican Republic in 2013/14. In DR, 20th century deforestation has led to vulnerability to soil erosion and crop failures during prolonged dry seasons. Working in a reforestation project with a local NGO made me appreciate the human dependence on ecosystem services. Beign mostly involved with their environmental education branch, one thing that struck me in particular is the excitement which nature can spark in the youngest – a valid reason to become Youth Ambassador in itself, I believe!
After volunteering another time on an organic farm in Costa Rica, my rather serious concern about our planet’s future contributed to the choice of the MSc Climate Change, Development and Policy which I am currently pursuing. Learning more about the science of climate change made me recognize the dimension of the contribution of land use changes and agricultural emissions to man-made climate change. The topic clearly merits more attention – why does everybody talk about greening the transport sector, and nobody actually about greening our physical environment?
Another take-away is how important it is to get communicating the science right, and how nudging people towards more conscious choices in their everyday lives is key. I have been reaching out to you people through various online channels before. This includes for example regularly sharing volunteering experiences from DR or conferences I attended such as the European Forum Alpbach or COP23 (article in the works, link will be posted in the comments asap) with supporters. In a more professional context, I am currently involved in managing the social media contents of the charity I am volunteering with (Twitter, facebook, Instagram), and have recently contributed to an interactive corporate sustainability assessment tool. Like them or not, I am keen on sharpening my skills – after the Youth Ambassador training, future blogposts should be less tedious to read than this one, I promise!
Communicating climate change and land use issues in a compelling way surely contributes to the solution, and I’d be happy to be part of it. However it won’t solve the problem on its own, as both technical fixes and large-scale policy action will be needed as well. In the shorter term, I aim to contribute to bridging science and policy, for instance by way of my upcoming dissertation on sustainable natural resource management practices under changing climatic conditions in Northern Africa. In the longer term, I wanna make sure we’re scaling up our efforts, as to my mind the most important transformative initiatives are still critically under-resourced.
After all, I believe to not only be able to enormously profit from joining the Youth Ambassador program myself, but to also make a modest contribution to its success. Largely this is because I have an adequate understanding of the scientific underpinnings as well as the policy processes at work. In addition, I attest myself to have what people call ‚communication skills‘, and last but not least I am fluent in five languages. If all this convices you and you think I should have a shot at it, please do like & share this article 🙂
Name: Janek Toepper
Age: 23 years of age
Country of residence: UK
University: University of Sussex
Mother tongue: German
Other languages you are fluent in: English, Italian, French, Spanish