My participation in the YIL 2015 (The most inspiring event I attended)

GLF2015 Youth Workshop - Day1 Picture credits: Youth in Landscapes initiative
GLF2015 Youth Workshop – Day1. Picture credits: Youth in Landscapes initiative

How I got there

I must confess that my participation in Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL) 2015 was one of those “nice” accidents of destiny. I was looking for some scientific literature for my research, when all of the sudden, I found myself in the web page of global landscape forum. I do not even remember exactly how I got there, but my attention was immediately caught by the YIL 2015 link.

After only a few minutes of reading what was the event all about, I had forgotten my original task and I knew I wanted to participate.So, I prepared my application, sent it and waited. My happiness was close to infinite when I read that e-mail early in the morning saying that I was invited to take part in it.

Preparing the pitch

But what exactly is YIL about?

Well… In a sentence: its about preparing a pitch.

But that is just the top of the iceberg! (and to be honest, it does not sound really exciting). The real essence of YIL, in my opinion, is in preparing that pitch. Quoting to García Marquez “happiness is not to be in the top of the mountain but the way that leads to the top”

Basically, the 50 young innovators that participated were cooperating in teams to propose a solution to a current problem related to landscape management.

I participated in “rights and tenure” challenge and our task was to propose a solution to the current issue of developing safeguard information systems to REDD+ initiative. The challenge took a different dimension when, during the firsts days of the COP21 (and just before our workshop started), it was announced that Norway, Germany and UK agreed on a pledge of 5 billion to develop REDD+ programs. At that moment, the motivation to develop our pitch couldn’t have been higher.

However, reality verified my (and I could even risk to say our) expectations. At the beginning, it seemed that to bring an agreement to such a diverse group (there were members from all continents) and in such a short period of time was a titanic task, which indeed it was!

In a moment during the second day (perhaps the third), I realized that pushing for “my solution” was not the right strategy and perhaps not even the point. The simple adventure of confronting my ideas and listening to the points of view of my colleagues was already such an insightful and inspiring experience that the rest… well the rest just was second term (surprisingly including the pitch!). From that moment on, my frustration stopped and my adventure and joy started!

The D-day

So finally, the day for which we had been working so hard had come! I was sitting with the rest of my team in the Dragon’s Den session. My surprise was that instead of being terrified, as I had anticipated, I was in fact enjoying. In that sense, and at least for me, YIL had been a complete success.

But what was the pitch about?

Well, we proposed a platform whose idea is to follow a bottom-up approach to capture local needs and define indicators. The previous idea will be complemented by top-down approach to verify the quality of data. I hope that a day, not long from now, we will have the chance to try to implement it. That project, and thanks to our mentor,  is on the way!

Picture courtesy: Martin Lopez
Picture courtesy: Martin Lopez

What I brought back

My participation in YIL was, without a doubt, the most inspiring event I attended during the year. The chance to talk to so many young people that share the same passion is priceless. Additionally, to have the chance to see so many interesting projects, ideas, and successes from more experienced researchers and practitioners is an incredible source of motivation.

Martin Alfonso Lopez Ramirez is one of the 10 young champions who will work 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.