Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Bonn Digital Conference 2020

Mariya Aleksandrovo and Michael Brüntrup from the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) organised an afternoon within the virtual Global Landscape Forum (GLF) 2020. Together with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and partners from the University of Bonn, the United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Rangeland Initiative of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), they designed three interlinked sessions on the nexus “drought risk management, natural resource management and social protection”. The new German focal point in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) for the UNCCD, Mrs Christa Franke, could be won over for a greeting address.

DIE’s contribution consisted of three panel discussions and a complex mix of 23 video clips, mostly produced specifically for this event. A moderator guided through each session. A preliminary recording of the entire session can be found here. An unusual highlight was certainly the address of the ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti who brought in the ”orbital perspective (…) onto the amazing work you all are doing to preserve our climate, our biosphere, our landscapes, and especially our agricultural and food security” and some of the services that aerospace can contribute to this. In the last session, some short clips from climate activists in Uganda made it very clear how drastically the Corona crisis just as drought challenges affect poor people in poor countries. Social protection, resource and climate protection as well as agriculture must go together to meet this challenge. DIE’s Christoph Strupat could clearly substantiate some of these linkages with the help of results from intervention experiments in Malawi.

The GLF 2020 had been planned long before the Corona pandemic as a virtual event, to provide a sign that large conferences and global dialogue are possible and meaningful without resource-intensive travelling. With the outbreak of the Corona crisis the event got further dynamic and meaning, which has also been considered in its subtitle „Food in the time of crises“. With almost 5000 (a fee of 10 US dollar) paying participants from 146 countries and all segments of society this has been achieved in an impressive way. Participants were free to roam between sessions and to exchange with presenters and among themselves; in addition, social media were served busily, its outreach indicated with 50 million.

In summary, the conference showed many new options for global interactions but it also became clear that this requires substantial efforts and that it cannot completely replace physical meetings