My participation at the Global Landscape Forum: Youth in Landscapes Initiative

Youth in Landscapes workshop - Day 4
Youth in Landscapes workshop – Day 4

I was one of the privileged 50 young innovators selected to participate in the Global Landscape Forum, Youth in Landscapes Initiative.

Youth in Landscapes is one of the few global arenas where young people have the opportunity to build skills, contribute ideas on key real landscapes challenges and also undertake leadership roles through the conference program

Before Paris

The selection process started in October 2015 and once the organizing committee chose the 50 youth, the adventure had begun. During the application process, we were asked to select, according to our background and professional experience, one of the five landscapes challenges. So, the 50 selected youth were divided in five groups of ten people, each group was in charge of suggesting solutions to the landscapes challenges: (i) rights and tenure, (ii) finance and trade, (iii) landscape restoration, (iv) education and (v) measuring success.

During November, we were in touch with the organizing committee through webinars about: (i) Critical Thinking and Active Listening, (ii) Fundraising and Crowdfunding, (iii) Selling and Supporting Your Idea: Pitching and Fundraising and (iv) The Landscape Approach, Youth, and the Post-2015 Agenda. Also mentors in charge of our challenge were in touch with us and shared valuable information about our challenge, in my case rights and tenure.

For me and probably for some of my fellow youth participants the challenge had begun ever since we got the acceptance letter, because at that moment we had to start looking for funding. Personally, this challenge was very difficult. I called and sent emails to many organizations and NGOs, but did not succeed for many weeks! I was very optimistic about it, so I kept trying. Seven days before the event started, one NGO answered my emails and told me that they were happy to offer me a financial support. For me this was huge, with many lessons learned from it.

Paris: working on the challenge

During the four days of of the workshop, we were working together with the aim of understanding the challenge, finding solutions and to preparing the pitch that was presented to a high level panel on the last day of the Global Landscape Forum. In the meantime, energizers and ice breaker activities were also undertaken. So, the working environment was always friendly. These activities were helpful to learn about cultures, traditions, different contexts and people´s motivations.

The rights and tenure challenge were addressed by ten youth innovators from nine different countries. During the work sessions and with the help of a mentor, we were: (i) discussing, (ii) learning from each other and (iii) exchanging points of view (according to our different academic backgrounds and experience).  After four days of work and a really meaningful learning process, we came up with a solution for our challenge.

As a group, we presented our proposal to the high level panel during the Youth Session at Global Landscape Forum, it was an interactive map to present multi-scalar data that allows national governments involved in REDD+ activities to report adherence to Social Safeguards. This map allows for data collection, verification and reporting to occur in a transparent, flexible and cost-efficient manner. We believed that this mechanism would be helpful since funding to support these REDD+ activities will not be delivered before of the demonstration of the adherence to the Cancun Social Safeguards.

Lessons Learnt

For me the most valuable lessons from the Youth in Landscapes Initiative were:

1) Keep trying. Regarding the fundraising, for me “keep trying” was the most valuable lesson, if I had not kept trying I would have not been able to participate at this amazing event.

2) Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Every day we were facing new challenges especially when we were: (i) talking in front of many people, (ii) defending our points of view to team member and (iii) pitching ideas in the Youth Session. So, we definitely learnt how to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

3) Applying the “active listening approach” when working in groups, definitely it will help you save time, and it makes it easy to understand other people’s point of view, especially when working in a group of ten members with different background and with limited time.

After Paris

After four days of workshop and two days at the Global Landscape Forum, I came back home full of energy, ambition, and inspiration and also grateful for the opportunity given. And I am definitely looking forward to further engagement in the GLF Youth in Landscapes initiative.

Finally, I would like to thank: (i) to the organizing committee and the facilitators for their amazing work (ii) to my sponsor CRUSA for making it for me possible to participated in this amazing event, (iii)  Amy Duchelle for being an excellent mentor and (iv) to all my fellow youth participants for all their energy and enthusiasm.

Maureen Arguedas is one of the 10 young champions who worked on the “ Rights and Tenure” Landscape challenge with Youth program’s partner: CIFOR.

Learn more about the Global Landscapes Forum Youth program, meet our 50 youth champions, discover the 5 Landscapes challenges they took up and the solutions they developed and pitched at the Dragon’s Den on 6th December 2015, in Paris.