On Wednesday, 16th of November, the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) took place in the Kenzi Club in Marrakech. I was filled up with expectations since I had attended GLF in Paris the year before. Last year the event lasted a whole weekend and had 3500 participants. This year the whole event was held on a smaller scale, with 500 participants. While others may have been consternated, I saw it as a huge chance to get even closer to orators and experts.
We were one of the first ones to show up and as we entered the Kenzi Club it became pretty clear that this was going to be awesome. Coming through a huge hall into the garden, a huge field of grass, palm-trees and tables with delicious food on them, opened up. As we were getting our tickets, we became aware of the familiar atmosphere dominating the event. I felt so comfortable. Maybe it was because of Samuel and Dolores, our IFSA COP and GLF delegates who had joined the Youth in Landscapes Initiative, who were helping out at the counter so that every participant would not have to wait too long for the tickets.
With time running by, the area filled up with people and the garden became slowly crowded. The first session started very soon and so we gathered in the main room. Beside the main room event you could choose between three others so that there was a good chance on hitting the interests of every participant. Sometimes I wanted to split myself up so that I could attend more than just one session at once, because many concurrent sessions piqued my interest. When the experts started their presentations and discussions they even went online via livestream. Between Tweeting and Facebooking it sometimes was hard to listen and I even felt a little bit stressed out while the sessions went on. So I really appreciated it that there were little breaks between the sessions so you could recover and catch up with the other delegates.
When we came out of the second session (Blog about this session will come from Bran; it was really awesome – especially because it is a big part of my study) it was already around 12 O’clock so it was lunchtime. And I think it was one of the best lunchtimes I ever had. Fighting myself through all the delegates and experts, some really well-known people under them, I was very hungry and so I was even more delighted to see the awesome food. From fried rice with vegetables over finger food to salad – we got everything. I shouldn’t tell you about the dessert since I would make you only envious when I really told you about the chocolate fountain or the fresh fruits or the sweet pies. As the break was coming to an end, we were fortunate enough to meet with the Australian Minister of the Environment and Energy. This gave us a good chance to talk to him about initiatives underway in Australia, specifically regarding landscape approaches to managing challenges, and take a group picture.
In the afternoon the Youth in Landscapes Initiative—an event designed and implemented in collaboration by IFSA, Global AgroEcology Alliance (GAEA) and Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD)—organized a youth session where we had to approach the challenges which cause migration and identify solutions to address these. After listening to three different stories from migrated people and their reason for migration they gave us our exercise: within 30 minutes we had to come up with a concept for a solution. The four groups had rather different ideas of how to cope with these problems and a pool of various ideas formed.
After the youth session the Global Landscapes Forum was drawing to a close and it was time for the closing plenary. During the closing plenary, it was announced that Germany would host and fund the secretariat of GLF for the next four years in Bonn. Originally I hoped for the German Minister of Environment to be there but she was unfortunately held up in COP negotiations at that time. After the surprising news of having GLF and its secretariat in Germany we went outside, where meanwhile some well filled bar-tables appeared. Mixing with the experts and getting into conversations was now the motto. And you won’t believe me with whom we had a talk for quiet a long time; Barbara Hendricks Germany’s Minister of Environment, who had concluded her negotiations. It was a great discussion about student involvement in global policy discussions, and she was highly impressed that she had the chance to meet IFSA delegates from all populated continents. Overall, it was a great way to end this fourth GLF and we look forward to visiting next year’s event in Bonn.