Luc Gnacadja spoke of land degradation around the world, referring especially to the plight of the Sahel and the ensuing instability and conflict in the region as a result of drought and desertification. He identified water and fertile soil as important commodities that need to be secured for the sake of future generation and introduced a major theme of the evening using a Korean adage, ‘the body and soil are not two’. Gnacadja’s presentation from 2012 is available here.
Bianca Jagger pressed for urgent action on land degradation, noting that hunger, climate change, and land security are all interconnected, and that our short-term, profit-driven views undermine our future. Ms. Jagger’s full speech is available here.
Simon Maddrell, Executive Director at Excellent Development, presented the success of sand dams – a revolutionary technology to conserve soil and water in drylands. Sand dams provide communities the opportunity to practice climate smart agriculture for livestock, terracing, and fish farms. Simon’s speech, workshop presentation and a brief film about sand dams is available below.
Dennis Hamro-Drotz’s eye opening presentation on UNEP’s project looking at the link between climate change, migration and conflict in the Sahel urged action on climate change to build sustainable peace.
Adam Koniuszewski, COO at Green Cross International spoke about their role in land restoration from chemical weapons and pesticides. Koniuszewski spoke about the consequences of the Cold War, the situation in Kuwait and the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam on land and water resources. “Hope is in our hands”, concluded Koniuszewski, describing the restoration of wastelands in Senegal that are now organic farms. Koniuszewski’s presentation is available here; he speaks about his experience at Caux in his blog here.
Professor Rattan Lal, professor of Soil Science and Director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at Ohio State University (USA), delivered a spirited Keynote speech on the unsustainability of our current consumption practices, and reiterated that good soils are a national asset. In addition to describing several man-made causes of soil degradation, he also spoke of the dire “Trilemma of Soil Degradation,” whereby population growth and the resulting increase in deforestation, carbon emissions, and urban encroachment contributes to soil degradation, starvation and death, in turn creating waste, political instability and civil strife. In order to mitigate such a grim outcome he urged participants to reconsider the impact of their existence on the land, noting that life, after all, is more important than lifestyle.
Tony Rinaudo, Natural Resources Management Specialist at World Vision Australia told us about his experiences in Niger where he stumbled upon the underground forests that lay beneath the desert bushes. Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) is a low-cost, sustainable land-restoration technique used to combat poverty and hunger amongst poor subsistence farmers in developing countries by increasing food and timber production, and resilience to climate extremes. FMNR involves the systematic regeneration and management of trees and shrubs from tree stumps, roots and seeds. Drylands are not wastelands – they are waiting lands, he concluded.