Kenya interuniversity debate on food security and nutrition

Are you ready to fight for a more secure food future? Join the Policy Action Initiative for an Interuniversity Debate on Food Security and Nutrition at Kenyatta University on 15 and 16 March, to hear from the brightest minds from across 30 universities about sustainable agricultural practices and environmental policies.

For more information, get in touch with Brian Kithinji: 

Concept Note

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UNCCD 15th session of the Conference of the Parties

The fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will take place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 9 to 20 May 2022.

The COP15 theme, ‘Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity’, is a call to action to ensure land, the lifeline on this planet, continues to benefit present and future generations.  ​

COP15 will bring together leaders from governments, the private sector, civil society and other key stakeholders from around the world to drive progress in the future sustainable management of one of our most precious commodities: land. ​

Land is the bedrock of a healthy, productive society, and COP15 will explore links between land and other key sustainability issues. These issues will be discussed during the high-level segment on 9-10 May 2022, including a Heads of States Summit, high-level roundtables and interactive dialogue sessions, as well as numerous other special and side events. ​

COP 15 is a key moment in the fight against desertification, land degradation and drought. It will build on the findings of the second edition of the Global Land Outlook and offer a concrete response to the interconnected challenges of land degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss as we step into the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. ​

Drought, land restoration, and related enablers such as land rights, gender equality and youth empowerment are among the top items on the Conference agenda. Through its decisions adopted by UNCCD’s 197 Parties, COP15 is expected to galvanize sustainable solutions for land restoration and drought resilience, with a strong focus on future-proofing land use.​

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Our world is in crisis!

And the evidence is clear: humans are the cause. From climate change to biodiversity loss, to land degradation and inequalities, our actions are putting life on earth at risk.


Yet the good news is this: since humans are the cause, then surely we can fix it. Just how we’ll do this is the focus of a digital event on 2 September 2021, as CIFOR-ICRAF and partners present solutions to tackle the food system crisis.

Join us and learn more about nature-positive solutions, based on science, that will diversify our food systems, improve their sustainability and increase equitable access to the nutrient-rich food that supports health and wellbeing. Only by ensuring the benefits are fairly shared with everyone can we also ensure that our landscapes are now, and remain, productive.

Hear from a range of speakers, from policymakers to smallholder farmers to researchers, who will highlight ways the world can advance towards a system that makes the wisest use of forests, trees and other healthy landscapes and forge a new alliance on nature-positive solutions.

Join efforts that underscore the crucial role of smallholder agriculture, Indigenous Peoples, local communities, youth and women play in the transition to nature-positive solutions for food production.

2 September

Food, nature and people are the three essential elements of our food system. When these elements are in balance, our food system provides nutritious food and livelihoods and supports natural systems like biodiversity, nutrient and water cycles and a stable climate. Unfortunately, our food system is out of balance, threatening people and communities around the world. To reverse this dangerous trend, we need to implement solutions at scale, quickly. This half-day digital event will show the way forward, by providing actionable scientific evidence to build sustainable landscapes and by connecting with people on the ground to share knowledge and experience and fundamentally transform agriculture and land management. By rebuilding resilient food systems, supporting sustainable use of forests, trees and other healthy landscapes, we can adapt to the crises we have created. Join this event on Sept. 2 to become part of the solution.

12:00-12:05 PM (UTC)

Master of Ceremony Vania Olmos Lau is a Mexican biologist employed as a technical advisor at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in Mexico City. Lau has a particular interest in how agricultural development can work in parallel with nature conservation at the landscape level, and holds a double master’s degree in agroecology and organic agriculture from Wageningen University (Netherlands) in partnership with ISARA-Lyon (France). She has been active with the Youth in Landscapes (YIL) Initiative and other youth organizations, and has field experience with rural communities and conservation organizations in Mexico, Uganda, the Netherlands, France and Paraguay. Lau is now working with public-private partnership promoting good agricultural practices to protect pollinators and native flora within natural protected areas.


Vania Olmos Lau


12:05-12:15 PM (UTC)

Prime Minister Marape, who is also a former finance minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG), will deliver the first keynote address during the digital event Food. Nature. People. The Prime Minister will discuss how the world can move “Towards a greener economy that recognises stewardship of land as a nature positive transformation of development.” This is a cause he has championed and reflects this event’s theme of encouraging bold policy and institutional change to support food system transformation. Prime Minister Marape has earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, a post-graduate Honours degree in Environmental Science, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Papua New Guinea. He was first elected to Parliament in 2007 and previously worked as Acting Assistant Secretary of Policy with the Department of Personnel Management from 2001 to 2006.


Right Hon. James Marape

Prime Minister of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Minister for Bougainville Affairs and Minister of Defence

12:15-12:25 PM (UTC)

Bronaugh, who is passionate about the advancement of youth leadership in agriculture, will be discussing the key role of youth in agriculture amid work to transform agriculture, forests and land management in the face of multiple global challenges. She also has a deep interest in food security: in autumn 2020, Bronaugh helped to establish the Virginia Food Access Investment Fund and Program in the U.S. state of Virginia, the first statewide program of its kind to address food access within historically marginalized communities. Empowering communities with decision-making skills is an important theme of this digital conference, which will examine recent research on food systems in the context of working with nature and people. That approach is a key success factor to sustainably manage land and transform food systems. Transformation of agriculture is also vital, given that it is a major driver of climate change while at the same time farmers struggle to adapt to its impacts. Integrated ecological, economic and social principles can help smallholder farming systems move towards greater resilience through diversification, recycling, and improving connections between producers and consumers. But adaption must be driven locally, with solutions led by local conditions and not imposed from outside.


Dr Jewel H. Bronaugh

Deputy Secretary of USDA, United States of America

12:25-12:35 PM (UTC)

Dr Rajiv Kumar is Vice Chairman of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog. He holds the rank and status of a cabinet minister. Kumar is also Chancellor of India’s Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics. In his keynote address, he will discuss how NITI Aayog has become a leader in Natural Farming and agroecology; how this agro-ecological approach has supported the transformation of agriculture in India; and what further steps and behavioral changes are necessary to avoid eventual social and environmental collapse in the agricultural sector.


Dr Rajiv Kumar

Vice Chairman at NITI Aayog

12:40-01:20 PM (UTC)

Food production and consumption differs from region to region, depending on rainfall, geography, soil and a host of economic, social and cultural factors. If agriculture is to become more sustainable and equitable, it will be critical to establish the policy frameworks that are appropriate for the conditions and circumstances of different regions. This discussion will hear from some of the policymakers who are enabling this critical transition. The value of this approach is underscored by the premise that working with nature and people – including their networks, relationships, solidarity, knowledge of local people – is a key success factor to sustainably manage land and transform food systems.


Gary Juffa

Governor of Oro province Papua New Guinea

Kathleen Merrigan

Professor & Executive Director, Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems, Arizona State University

Mr Vijay Kumar Thallam

Vice Chair Rythu Sadhikara Samstha (RySS), Special Chief Secretary, Govt of Andhra Pradesh

Christophe Kouame

Regional Coordinator, West & Central Africa, CIFOR-ICRAF

Bahar Dutt

Associate Professor, Shiv Nadar University and Independent journalist

01:20-01:25 PM (UTC)


01:25-01:55 PM (UTC)

Empowering communities with decision-making skills, establishing farmer-centered learning systems and putting monitoring tools into the hands of people on the ground: these are among the many innovations to come out of recent research on food systems. This discussion will feature both scientists and practitioners as they look at the surprises and discoveries in research and science that have emerged and are leading to a food-systems transformation that produces food sustainably, equitably and affordably. Such farming, in accordance with nature, can bring together local and scientific knowledge, in order to focus on the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment. This, in turn, can provide nutritious food and sustainable livelihoods while helping to address the negative impacts of conventional agriculture on climate change and biodiversity loss. In addition, there are numerous ignored, under-valued and under-researched plants producing fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains that are often very nutritious and can help diversify the current agricultural system to one that provides more balanced, more nutritious and healthier diets and is less prone to environmental shocks.


Melissa Pinfield

Executive Director, Just Rural Transition Secretariat, Meridian Institute

Cheikh Mbow

Director of Future Africa at the University of Pretoria

Gabriela Lucas Deecke

Director General, CIASPE Mexico

Robert Nasi

Managing Director, CIFOR-ICRAF Director General, CIFOR

Danielle Nierenberg

President and Co-Founder, Food Tank

01:55-02:05 PM (UTC)


02:05-02:45 PM (UTC)

Smallholder farmer initiatives demonstrate some of the fastest changes that are taking place around the world. This panel will feature innovators who are pushing for large-scale transformation of land management for food production. They will present their nature-positive agricultural solutions to the food system crisis. These innovations will be presented alongside sustainable investors who will share insights into how innovative farmers can accelerate their businesses and ideas with financing.


Mr Satya S. Tripathi

Secretary General, Global Alliance for a Sustainable Planet

Tabi Joda

Executive Director, GreenAid

Nafkote Dabi

Climate Change Policy Lead for Oxfam

Chantal Marijnissen

Head of Unit C2 Environment, Ecosystems, Biodiversity and Wildlife, European Commission DG for international Cooperation and Development

Tony Simons

Director General, World Agroforestry (ICRAF) Executive Director, CIFOR-ICRAF

02:45-02:55 PM (UTC)

Alexander Müller is Founder and Managing Director of the ThinkTank for Sustainability (TMG), a former FAO Assistant Director-General and State Secretary for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture in Germany. He has extensive experience in global sustainability governance, as Chair of the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition; member of the UN Environmental Management Group; and Lead, Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Governance of Land.. As our digital event concludes, Müller will outline the next steps that have been identified by our keynote speakers and panellists during Food.Nature.People; and discuss how we can transform the insights and ideas outlined during this event, and the vision presented here, into action on the ground.


Alexander Müller

Founder & Managing Director, TMG Think Tank

Iliana Monterroso

Scientist, Co-Coordinator of Gender and Social Inclusion Research at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

03:05-03:15 PM (UTC)

Closing remarks


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