Global Landscape Forum Bonn Digital Conference 2020 Outcome Statement
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global health crisis on a scale that has not been seen in a century, leading to millions of infections, more than 450,000 deaths, countries in lockdown, lives disrupted by economic hardship, social isolation and the growing threat of hunger. The global emergency has also highlighted the need to reconsider humanity’s relationship with the natural world and the consequences of ignoring the nexus between humans, wildlife and landscapes that provide food and livelihoods.The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Bonn Digital Conference 2020 took place on 3–5 June with the focal theme of “Food in the Time of Crises.” The GLF broadcast its largest digital environmental conference to date from Germany and Indonesia, minimizing carbon emissions and accommodating current pandemic-related bans on mass gatherings. The three-day event provided a unique opportunity for people from various walks of life, including scientists, chefs, policymakers, farmers, Indigenous communities, young professionals, artists and even an astronaut – to discuss food through the prism of current crises and to harness the potential of shared knowledge. The last day of the conference also coincided with World Environment Day.
With the support of the German governmentand the Foundation for International Dialogue of the Savings Bank (Sparkasse) in Bonn, the GLF Bonn Digital Conference involved 300 speakers, over 4,900 participants from six continents and 50 million people on social media. Primatologist Jane Goodall, environmentalist Bill McKibben, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Andersen, and Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya delivered keynote addresses. No matter where attendees were located, they could tune in through a mobile app, pitch questions to the speakers and chat with other participants. The agenda included documentary screenings, interviews with experts, live polls, cooking shows and even a guided meditation session. As a prelude, a half-day youth forum was held on 2 June with the theme “Restore Our Planet,” featuring landscape leaders under the age of 35. In the overall conference, 55 youth representatives actively participated in sessions as speakers
“One Health” approach. The effects of deforestation and ecosystem destruction are increasingly bringing people into contact with animals that have been displaced from their traditional habitats. This interaction makes the transmission of viruses and bacteria between species more likely as wildlife migrates to new areas, suffer from overexploitation in urban markets and ultimately join the human food chain. Scientists theorize that COVID-19 was transmitted from a pangolin or a bat to humans in a market in the city of Wuhan. About 75 percent of all emerging infectious diseases affecting people are zoonotic – meaning they originated in animals – and are closely interlinked with the health of ecosystems, according to a 2016 report by UNEP.
How do we feed the world without eating the planet? The United Nations estimates that the global population will grow by 2 billion in the next 30 years and may reach 11 billion by the end of the century. More than 820 million people go to bed hungry each day, of whom 135 million suffer from acute hunger. An additional 130 million people are now at risk of acute hunger by the end of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the World Food Programme. These figures are even more daunting considering that 35 percent of all food products are wasted.
Agricultural production is one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate climate change and drive deforestation. Unsustainable farming methods also lead to land degradation, which causes biodiversity loss and in turn threatens food security. About 25 percent of the world’s total land area has been degraded, destroying its productive capacity while contributing to climate change through the release of soil carbon and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. Degraded land costs the world about USD 6 trillion annually in lost services, goods and livelihoods.
Conference participants learned that solutions also include emission-reduction methods, seed system diversity for climate adaptation, productive agroecosystems as long-term carbon sinks, the importance of protecting peatlands and the recognition of rising competition for land from non-food sectors. One four-hour series of sub-sessions on drought-risk strategies featured more than 20 speakers and focused on safeguarding the livelihoods of local communities in Africa through natural resource management and social protection programs. An urgent need exists to scale up ecosystem restoration efforts that contribute to sustainable development, food security and nutritional needs in a world with a growing population.
People under the age of 35, also known as youth, have a more prominent role to play in forging a new future for local food sovereignty and global food security. The Global Landscapes Forum and the Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL) have created the Generation Restoration program to help young professionals promote restoration activities and youth leadership contributing to global restoration efforts. As part of this program, YIL carried out its first low-carbon, digital forum covering the topic “Restore Our Planet” as a half-day event from the new GLF Broadcast Center in Bonn on 2 June. Three 30-minute “Youth Daily Shows” were live-streamed during lunch breaks to share youth perspectives and contributions on sustainable diets, food sovereignty and food waste in a creative way.
For more information please visit https://www.globallandscapesforum.org/publication/glf-bonn-digital-conference-2020-outcome-statement/