The annual Caux Dialogue on Land and Security (2013, 2014, 2015) seeks to connect experts and practitioners across disciplines (‘horizontal’) and hierarchies (‘vertical’) to create a shared understanding and vision for sustainable peace in the world’s drylands and degraded ecosystems, and to build the trust needed for effective collaboration on the ground and in ‘land-peace partnerships’. This can only be achieved with an inclusive, multi-stakeholder approach, including such diverse actors as business, political leadership, foreign donors, the development and security communities and the people of the drylands themselves. Not least, different religious groups need to peacefully work together. Creating a joint vision with all stakeholders encourages each school of thought, specialisation and hierarchy to contribute their best to a solution.
The venue provides a safe environment which facilitates much-needed conversations, and offers solutions as well as analysis. Little known outside expert circles, there are simple, effective, inexpensive and proven ways of restoring land to its full capacity to grow food, retain water and act as a natural buffer against extreme weather. This approach directly supports the most poor and vulnerable, helping them find income and employment on their own land. Despite all these advantages, astonishingly little land restoration is taking place. The reasons lie in divided responsibilities, and in the fact that most of the solutions exist outside the normal focus of governments and development agencies. Besides, the first priority may be unconventional, such as the need to reconcile hostile groups on the ground so that they can cooperate. These issues are addressed at the Caux conference with a range of stakeholders from grassroots activists to world leaders, big business to top scientists. Land restoration practitioners also particularly value the chance to meet there to exchange best practice, and are increasingly in touch via social media outside the formal conferences.