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GLF outcomes statement discloses Africa’s Drylands world’s most fragile landscapes heavily degraded

BY DUSABEMUNGU Ange de la Victoire

AN OUTCOME STATEMENT released by the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) after June, 2021 conference titled: “GLF Africa 2021: Restoring Africa’s Drylands, Accelerating Action on the Ground” revealed that Africa’s drylands are among the world’s most fragile landscapes and are heavily degraded, yet have enormous potential to be restored.

Drylands cover 43 percent of Africa’s surface (excluding deserts), and provide vital ecosystem services for more than half a billion people.

The Statement highlighted that Africa’s Drylands harbour some of the continent’s most celebrated species, produce much of its food, and contribute significantly to economic growth. Yet, too often, the narrative applied to these landscapes is one of scarcity and neglect.

Changing that narrative was a goal of the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) digital conference: GLF Africa 2021: Restoring Africa’s Drylands, Accelerating Action On the Ground.

Held on the 2-3 June 2021, the conference brought over 7,000 registrants – including 6000 African nationals – together to debunk old myths, and celebrate the abundance, diversity and potential that Africa’s drylands have to offer.

The event reached over 32 million people on social media, and provided a crucial platform for 223 speakers – including 108 women and 35 youth – to share knowledge, shape policy and galvanize global support for Africa’s drylands ahead of the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030.

From Key messages from the released statement on its first page, they say “Restoration alone will not overcome the economic and social challenges the drylands face, and must therefore be part of integrated approaches involving various actors, often with multiple and diverse needs and interests. This is essential to leverage their potential, despite constraints of climate change and inadequate human and financial resources. Degradation in drylands is complex with no single blueprint or “silver bullet” solution.”

“Restoration of hope is the real gift. When you have hope, you can do anything. You believe in yourself and in the future,” Tony Rinaudo Principal Natural Resources Advisor, World Vision Australia quoted in the report released on Monday, 19 July 2021.

The Restoration Decade urgently calls on us to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide, the statement says.

“Session after session emphasized the importance of traditional knowledge, existing innovative ideas and an ability to adapt that is characteristic of the people living in Africa’s drylands. What is missing is the mainstreaming of context appropriate tools and instruments, and financial support, to confront the many challenges facing the drylands.” Read part of it.

Those challenges include overgrazing, agricultural expansion and over-exploitation of woodlands that have followed the search for livelihoods by a young population hungry for jobs and the benefits of modern life.

Those challenges are all exacerbated by the growing impacts of climate change. The importance of balancing diverging interests within landscapes was a recurrent theme in the GLF Africa sessions.

Although many see only challenges, many others – including GLF Africa and its partners – see solutions. Restoration of drylands offers a wealth of opportunities to improve livelihoods, food security, health outcomes, while contributing to a sustainable, greener future that supports peace.

Evidence shows that restored farmland, if managed well, contributes to higher yields, enhanced food security, more jobs and higher incomes while restored grassland and pasture enhances animal and human health, livestock production, and can contribute to the preservation of rich pastoralist cultures across Africa.

For more, find the published statement HERE

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