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Land Restoration: Unlocking a Large Key in the Fight Against Climate Change and Human Security

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A big part of the solution – and the problem presently — is literally under our feet. There are many reasons to secure our land resources and the land itself.

Land security is an issue of human security. Today, 33% of land is moderately to highly degraded due to the erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification and chemical pollution of soils. About 1/6th of the world’s population depend on degrading land. Indeed, though most people are much less aware of it than of other critical crises (e.g. the climate crisis), we do have a soil crisis.

Each year, an area thrice the size of Switzerland is lost for agriculture, exacerbating existing situations in climate change, water management, availability of food, and ultimately human security.

As Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) noted in her foreword to our book, Land Restoration:Reclaiming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future, “Land and soil is the second-largest carbon sink, after the oceans. Getting carbon back in the soil could buy the 30 years that we may need to move to a low-carbon economy. It could also get vulnerable populations, who are already experiencing climate change impacts and resource scarcity, time to adapt.”

The relationship between land restoration, climate change abatement, and human security is beginning to be recognized in the mainstream. When I first became a steering committee member for Initiatives for Land, Lives and Peace (ILLP) about five years ago, the discussion of the central need for land restoration as a vital way to fight against climate change was largely contained within niche parts of the research community, a hand-full of on-the-ground practitioners and local changemakers, as well as the UNCCD, led by Luc Gnacadja (Executive Director at that time).

The theme for this year’s Caux Dialogue on Land and Security is the “Business of Land Restoration and Trust.” The case for tackling land degradation and conflict is clear. Land degradation costs businesses around $40 billion a year, and is a real risk to the future of the food, fiber, forestry, and bioenergy industries. When these industries are threatened and harvest yields on agricultural lands are reduced through land degradation, people are forced to move to find work and food sources. When there is weak governance and socio-economic inequalities already present, conflict often naturally ensues (e.g., due to land rights).

There are several relatively low-cost means of restoring land, but they take time and trust. One example, is Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). FMNR is a system of tree and shrub regrowth and management. This regrowth can be integrated into crops and grazing pastures and has been shown to double crop yields. FMNR also helps restore soil structure and fertility, inhibit erosion, and rehabilitate the water table, among other positives.

Much of my research today is centered on accounting for co-benefits in resilience planning and associated investments. In the ten plus years I have worked in the space of environmental and developmental economics, it has become clear – for better or worse – that the business case tends to be what decides whether an environmental improvement will be adopted. Highlighting the fact that minimal investments aimed directly at land restoration almost always have indirect co-benefits such as increased livelihood stability and reduced regional conflict. Not to mention that I recently learned that the world’s soils contain almost one-third of living organisms (per the European Union’s Joint Research Center). Considering that we only have identified about 1 % of these organisms, it’s worth keeping the soil around and learning more.

I wager that in land restoration and management overall, technical questions are not the greatest obstacles, though the science is complex and, of course, continues to unfold. The real challenge continues to be getting communities to work together and to share and support effective goals around land issues. Starting with users of the land and go up– addressing stakeholders at multiple levels—is crucial. We need to strive to overcome silo thinking, whether by experts, policy makers, or practitioners, in order to continue to restore degraded lands effectively.

At a time when the USA is considering reducing key national climate measures (such as the Clean Air Act) and is threatening to exit the Paris Agreement on the International Stage, I am heartened thinking about the many local, regional, and international efforts I see related to land restoration. It is possible: investment (economic, social, and emotional) in landscapes, improved land governance, and trust building are coming together over and over to help restore land and with it, create a cleaner and more peaceful world.

Happy Earth Day! Please remember that there is no Planet B.

Jennifer F. Helgeson, PhD

 

About the editor:

Dr. Jennifer F. Helgeson is an environmental economist leading work on the economics of community resilience planning. Views shared in this post are her own and do not reflect the opinion of the organization by which she is employed. In the past, Jennifer was a researcher at the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research, Norway and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, France. Following the completion of her B.A. Degree in Economics at Brandeis University, Dr. Helgeson had a Fulbright grant to research environmental economic issues in Norway. She earned her M.Sc. Degree in Environmental Change and Management with a focus on Environmental Economics at the University of Oxford, UK. Dr. Helgeson holds a PhD in Environmental & Developmental Economics at the London School of Economics (LSE) under a Grantham Institute for Climate Change Research scholarship and was also supported by NSF funding.

Jennifer is primarily interested in economic analyses that consider behavioral aspects and approaches to dealing with environmental issues. She has authored a number of academic articles and chapters. She co-edited the Elsevier published book “Land Restoration: Reclaiming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future.”


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CDLS 2017 Home

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CAUX DIALOGUE ON LAND AND SECURITY 2017

Caux, Switzerland

11th July – 15th July 2017

The Business of Land Restoration and Trust 

Initiatives for Land, Lives, and Peace (ILLP) is delighted to invite you to the upcoming Caux Dialogue on Land and Security  2017 (CDLS 2017) due to take place between 11-15 July at Caux, Switzerland. CDLS 2017 will focus on tackling land degradation and conflict, and advance the global discourse on best practice for implementing successful initiatives and investments.

*Claim your Early Bird Offer here*

Land use forms the point of convergence for such priority items on the global agenda as water and food security, extreme poverty, climate change (both mitigation and adaptation), conflict and mass migration.

On average, six to ten inches of topsoil is all that separates stability and conflict, while every year an area three times the size of Switzerland is lost to agriculture.

The central importance of land is most obvious in the world’s drylands, which used to feed about 40% of global population. As land is lost and population grows, conflict increases with more and more people competing for what remains. Eighty per cent of the world’s conflicts now take place in its drylands, and countries under particular pressure risk becoming failing states.

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Consequently land restoration and sustainable land management play a central role in food security, water security, economic growth through employment, and carbon sequestration. As such, land restoration can play a central role in strengthening climate resilience in fragile states.

Global economic losses arising from land degradation are estimated at $40 billion annually. Degradation releases soil carbon worsening global climate change, reduces yields, creates food insecurity, erodes livelihoods and drives migration. Where combined with weak governance structures, loss of the commons and other socio-economic inequalities, conflict often ensues.

Land restoration and trust building initiatives minimise operational, social and environmental risks as well as offer opportunities to develop new, value-added products, and build new markets.  At the same time, soil carbon sequestration reduces climate change impacts and improves agricultural yields. Yet these projects fail to attract sufficient global investments, despite the abundance of private capital in financial markets.

Hosted in partnership with UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Initiatives of Change International, CDLS 2017 will convene experts, policymakers, practitioners, activists and the private sector to exchange experience and knowledge on three key aspects:

  • Investment: reconciling the needs and opportunities for private sector investment in land restoration and trust-building.
  • Governance: exploring the role of trust-building in land governance, land security and legal frameworks and vice versa.
  • Restoration: identifying best practice in land-peace partnerships, and exploring potential models for scaling-up.

Explore how innovative investment, business practise and governance can bring a durable peace and sustainable land management.

 

In its second year, the Emerging Leaders Program will once again draw outstanding young and ambitious individuals from across the globe, with existing projects that address land degradation and conflict.

Meet pioneers and entrepreneurs in the exceptional setting of a turn-of-the-century Swiss palace hotel.

Join us in shaping the future!

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We’re hiring! Forum Coordinator for the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security (CDLS)

Posted on Updated on

We are looking for a new Forum Coordinator for the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security (CDLS), with first-hand experience of the CDLS, and a passion for land and human security issues. This is a part-time position (expected at 40% or 2 days per week), to start immediately. See role description below. Please send in a recent CV (not more than 2 pages) and covering letter by 31st October, 2016 to land [@] iofc [.] org.

JOB DESCRIPTION

Download job description here.

Purpose of the post
The position consists of the organisation and coordination of a yearly forum held in the summer in the international conference centre of Caux (Vaud) Switzerland, under the general title  “Caux Dialogue on Land and Security”.

Main responsibilities

  • Design, coordination and implementation of the conference’s programme in liaison with all other stakeholders, ensuring full integration of IofC essence
  • Manage the team of volunteers responsibly and ethically to prepare and lead the conference and ensure the timely achievement of all its deliverables
  • Ensure a sound collaboration with all stakeholders and the appropriate information flow to keep all the key persons informed of the programme’s status, including follow-up of previous years’ events
  • Produce the conference report

Main tasks

  • Define the planning process as per indications from the CAUX Foundation and apply the set deadlines; in particular ensure the full involvement of the CAUX Design team as from the beginning of the planning process (18 months in advance)
  • Develop the Forum programme in collaboration with the ILLP Steering Group
  • Prepare the conference budget and the fundraising strategy (who, when, how, how much) with a realistic view ; raise the funding or sponsoring from private, institutional and/or public donors; ensure coordination with the CAUX foundation on applications to donors based in Switzerland
  • Coordinate the preparation of a communications plan and ensure its implementation in close collaboration with the Caux Foundation Comms team
  • Ensure appropriate external communication and advertisement dependent upon the target audience, and in close collaboration with the CAUX Foundation and ILLP Steering Group
  • Ensure the appropriate use of the CAUX and ILLP Logos and the communication templates set forth by the CAUX Foundation
  • Manage specific communication on the social networks
  • Approach and manage the relation with high level participants (in step with others on the core team), experts, speakers and workshop leaders securing practical and administrative support.
  • Follow up on registrations and administrative issues as well as on expenses
  • Prepare the conference and welcome file and ensure appropriate welcome
  • Keep records of CDLS account and agree payments to Caux with Caux finance department at the end of the CDLS
  • Draft the conference report and prepare the actions to be pursued further;
  • Develop an action plan for follow-ups with CAUX participants
  • Ensure compliance with the Caux Foundation’s policies and rules for the Caux conferences
  • Participate in the Caux Planning Meetings, and if required by the Forum Director, to attend and participate in up to one week’s training per year
  • Convene and propose agendas for periodic meetings with the ILLP Steering Group at intervals to be agreed

Job Specifications

  • Project management experience, including finance management
  • Proficient education or experience in the Forum subject matter
  • Experience in managing people, ideally volunteers
  • Good understanding of communication needs and methods related to events/the Forum.
  • Experience of multi-cultural working with diverse, remote teams
  • Strong organizational and conceptual skills
  • Strong interpersonal and communications skills
  • Extended experience in networking
  • Very good editing skills
  • Very good English knowledge, orally and writing

Preferred:

  • Experience of a Caux Conference
  • French and German language skills

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Food for thought at the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security

Posted on Updated on

By Brendan Bromwich

“Any environmental issue involves looking at who the stakeholders are and what are the relationships among them. If you don’t deal with the relationship problem at the root, then you will fail in the end”

– Dr Michael Schluter at the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security 2015

This pithy quote caught the theme of the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security well. The event brought together a group of practitioners, researchers and senior policy makers in a reflective environment for a conversation in which the dynamics of land and security were explored in depth. The dialogue contrasted the positive and negative feedback loops between political and environmental factors in land degradation, poverty and conflict.

One of the exciting good news stories shared at the event came from northern Ethiopia, where there have been major results on land restoration and on building social cohesion that together put the region in a much better place to withstand the current trials of a failed wet season.

However, the dialogue recognised that work in those geographical areas experiencing social and environmental fragility is not sufficient alone. The world is interconnected, not just through the migrant flows when things don’t work out – a striking reminder though that is – but also through the vitally important but less visible ties of global trade.

Trade in food arguably represents the most important set of relationships determining how society at large is connected with the farming community – who are, after all, the world’s front line environmental managers. As Stockholm Water Prize Laureate, Prof Tony Allan, explained:

“We are living a contradiction. We are addicted to cheap food. But we do not realise that asking farmers to produce under-priced food means they cannot provide the ecosystem services which we also need them to provide. Low food prices make it impossible for farmers to attend to the environment”

Food prices link everyone on the planet with farmers. So if there are problems with regulation of land and conflict affecting farmers in Africa, or problems closer to home as a result of farmers lacking incentives and resources to control polluted or excessive run-off into rivers, then reorganising society’s relationships with farmers is key.

The scope of the dialogue was broad – but it’s hard to think of a topic of which it is truer to say that it affects us all… The report, keynote speeches and some of the great presentations at the event are available here.


 

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Land Restoration: Reclaiming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future

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***HOT OFF THE PRESS***


Land Restoration: Reclaiming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future

by

Ilan Chabay, Martin Frick and Jennifer Helgeson

hits the shelves!


Land Restoration: Reclaiming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future
Land Restoration: Reclaiming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future

**Click here to pre-order your copy**

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See below for: 

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About the book: 

Land Restoration: Reclaiming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future addresses solutions to land restoration and related topics, such as human security, development, and water and air pollution. The book aims to exchange lessons to enrich the academic understanding of these issues and the solution sets available. Click here to download the Table of Contents.

Land Restoration: Reclaiming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future brings together expertise from a variety of professional positions and experience – practitioners, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academia and policy specialists in formulating a representative and holistic view of land restoration. The authors in this volume represent a range of perspectives on the topic of land restoration and its relationship with security in different dimensions. Click here to download the List of Contributors.

This compilation of current research provides a holistic overview of land degradation and restoration from the scientific and practical development points of view. Land Restoration: Reclaiming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future is the product of tireless work and dedication by a remarkable group of authors, spread around the globe and from such diverse disciplines, all working on aspects of land restoration. It was made possible through an extensive network of relationships mainly built at the annual “Caux Dialogue for Land and Security” in Switzerland.

KEY FEATURES:

  • Provides information about the science, policy, and social issues behind land degradation and restoration in a form accessible to all, including those who are not specialists in the topics, allowing full access to the issues at hand
  • Includes practical on-the-ground examples garnered from diverse areas, such as the Sahel, Southeast Asia, and the U.S.A.
  • Provides practical tools for designing and implementing restoration/re-‐ greening processes.

To order the book, go to http://store.elsevier.com/product.jsp?isbn=9780128012314


About the Authors

Ilan Chabay

Ilan Chabay is Senior Fellow at Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam Germany, where he co-leads Sustainable Modes of Arctic Resource-driven Transformations and global interdependencies (SMART) project and collaborates on governance of emerging technologies and soil & land restoration. He is honorary member of Swiss Academy of Social Sciences and Humanities, served on Scientific Committee of the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) and Science & Technical Committee of UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. He was Hasselblad Professor in sociology and applied IT departments at University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University 2006-2011, consulting professor of chemistry at Stanford University 1984-1988. In Silicon Valley he founded and directed The New Curiosity Shop from 1983-2001, which designed and produced hands-on science exhibitions for over 200 science centers worldwide. His Ph.D. is in chemical physics from University of Chicago.

Affiliations and Expertise

Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, Germany

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Martin Frick

Martin Frick is the Representative of Germany to the International Organisations based in Germany, including the Secretariats of the UN convention to combat climate change, UNFCCC, and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, UNCCD. He was E3G’s Programme Leader for Climate Diplomacy from November 2010 to June 2012. Martin has been a German diplomat since 1996. He served as the German representative for human rights and humanitarian affairs at the United Nations General Assembly from 2005 to 2007. Prior to his work in New York, Martin served as Consul and as Deputy Ambassador in Albania from 1999-2002. From 2002-2005 he was the Cabinet Affairs Advisor to German Federal Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. Between 2007-2010 he was Deputy CEO/Director of the Global Humanitarian Forum, a Geneva based foundation set up by former UN-Secretary General Kofi Annan. From the early days of this foundation Martin formed the content and strategic orientation of the Forum’s work.

Affiliations and Expertise

Representative of Germany to UN Organisations based in Germany

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Jennifer Helgeson

Jennifer Helgeson is a Research Economist in the Applied Economics Office of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). She is a steering committee member for Initiatives for Land, Lives and Peace (ILLP). She is also a member of the Royal Academy of Geographers and was awarded a Fulbright Grant to do fieldwork in Norway. Jennifer was a Climate Change Adaptation Specialist for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). She has done environmental economics-related work for Friends of the Earth Middle East and Grameen Foundation, Uganda. Jennifer did her PhD studies at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, LSE. She previously studied Environmental Economics at the University of Oxford and Economics at Brandeis University.

Affiliations and Expertise

Applied Economics Office of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)


Acknowledgements

This book is the product of tireless work and dedication by many people. It has been a rare and wonderful opportunity to work with a remarkable group of authors, spread around the globe and from such diverse disciplines, all working on aspects of land restoration. It was made possible through an extensive network of relationships mainly built at the yearly “Caux Dialogue for Land and Security” in Switzerland. The authors would like to thank all those who, as volunteers, commit to organize this important conference and maintain the network.

The authors in this volume represent a range of viewpoints on the topic of land restoration and its
relationship with security in different dimensions. The expertise represented in this book spans a variety of professional positions and experience—practitioners, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), university professors, and policy specialists. These authors’ inputs complement one another in formulating a representative and holistic view of land restoration. We thank them for their time, collaboration, and contributions.

We would like to acknowledge the outstanding efforts of some volunteer text editors who went through select chapters and worked with some of the authors during the drafting process. Many heartfelt thanks to Meera Shah, Natassia Ciuriak, Scott Darby, Irina Fedorenko, Jane Feeney, Guy Lomax, Barb Smeltzer, Rachel Waggott, and Wessel van der Meulen. And our thanks also to Dr. Lori Adams Chabay for inspiring the inclusion of notes for educators and others on the uses of this text.


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Portable solar lights as a tool for peace building and land restoration

Posted on Updated on

Joseph Karanja (R) Presenting Solar Lamps at the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security, 2015
Joseph Karanja (R) Presenting Solar Lamps at the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security, 2015

Kenya is the largest economy in East Africa. This can be attributed to the relative peace and stability that the country has enjoyed, making it the refuge of choice by many people who have fled from other war torn countries in the region. Eldoret town is 320 kilometres west of Nairobi. It is a home to almost all the 42 ethnic communities of Kenya. The town has in the last two decades been the epicentre of violence, especially during the general elections. The 2007 post-election violence was the worst to have ever hit Kenya. It left deep divisions, especially between the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities. In every conflict land has been the main issue, and it has been exploited by politicians to divide the communities further. Today, Eldoret is the place where everybody is going to learn how communities that were once divided are living in peace and working together to raise their living standards. A lot of work, pain, tears and resources have brought Eldoret to where it is.

“Let’s turn the light on ourselves and see where we need to change”

One such initiative is a solar project inspired by Keith Neal and Joseph Karanja. What started as a campaign to eradicate the kerosene lamp by 2020, became a huge symbol of unity and reconciliation. A group of women embraced the high quality SolarAid/SunnyMoney solar lights almost three years ago. “Let’s turn the light on ourselves and see where we need to change,” said one of the women. This set into motion a series of apologies and great stories of reconciliation. Men and youth joined in, vowing ‘never again in Eldoret will communities maim and kill each other over land and politics.’

Today over 600 hundred people from all communities are using portable solar lights to care for each other. Land, which has been a major source of conflict, is now regarded as a God-given heritage that must be protected and used well for the sake of future generations. The group pulls resources together to buy more lights, and to generate capital for small businesses. The idea has now spread to neighbouring counties. According to Retired Chief Maiyo Kipserem of Kapseret, Eldoret, there has been a huge drop in the use of firewood in areas where these lights are widely used. Firewood is generally used both for cooking and lighting. Many families are witnessing increased incomes, mainly through savings on kerosene and charging mobile phones. The savings are used for education and other beneficial needs. Many people are now using gas for cooking as opposed to charcoal and kerosene. The group is determined to work for a better life for future generations. Many are now conscious of the need to protect the environment and for every activity to be environmentally-friendly. Many groups from other parts of Kenya are learning from the example set in Eldoret. The future is promising.

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Grounding Sustainable Development in Geneva

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Caux Initiatives of Change in partnership with World Vision International organized a follow-up event to the 2015 Caux Dialogue on Land and Security (CDLS) at the Geneva International Environment House on 15 July. The objective of the event was to share the conclusions of the 2015 CDLS with the broader Geneva environmental community and continue the discussions and brainstorming on grounding sustainable development.

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The event began with a panel that introduced Caux Initiatives of Change and the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security. Barbara Hintermann, Secretary-General of CAUX-Initiatives of Change Foundation gave a historical overview of Caux and the Initiatives of Change movement. Beris Gwynne, Director of World Vision International Geneva, meanwhile introduced the collaboration between World Vision International and Caux Initiatives of Change. Chris Evans, coordinator of Initiatives for Land, Lives, Peace that organized the CDLS then continued the panel and expressed hope that people from the military and security sectors are taking an interest in issues of sustainable land management. Patrick Worms, Senior Science Policy Adviser, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), continued by presenting some of the main conclusions of the 2015 Caux Dialogue on Land and Security, and stated that “by managing resources more efficiently, it is possible to have your cake and eat it.” Yousif El Tayeb, Executive Director, Darfur Development and Reconstruction Agency meanwhile pleaded to all to “please do not give up in supporting peace in Darfur.” Finally, Gabriel Lagat, Deputy Governor, Elgeyo Marakwet County, Kenya, expressed a wish and hope for the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security to be brought to Kenya next year.

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After the presentations about Caux Initiatives of Change and the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security, three practitioners with experience of land restoration, Come N’Dour, World Vision Senegal, Gutu Tesso, World Vision Ethiopia, and Tony Rinaudo, World Vision Australia, presented examples of success from their work. Tony Rinaudo presented the technique of Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR), a low-cost method of land restoration that is experiencing increased adoption and which still has great potential for scale-up. The introductions and presentations were followed by a short round of questions and answers.

After a lunch break, the program continued with a discussion session conducted under Chatham House rules. Among the issues discussed were the relational dimensions of issues related to sustainable land use and management, the need for a continuum between the humanitarian, development, and climate change constituencies and the break-down of existing silos, the scalability of community mobilization, the necessity for more research, and the importance of clear and effective communication. The discussion session was followed by the Geneva premiere of the new documentary, Ethiopia Rising. Cornelio Sommaruga, former President of the International Association for Initiatives of Change concluded the program with some closing remarks drawing upon his extensive experiences in humanitarian work. This was then followed by a networking aperitif hosted by World Vision International that allowed participants to continue discussions in a more relaxed setting.

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