Meet Judeon, ILC Youth Fellow.
Judeon works at the Centre for Environment and Development in Cameroon as a research assistant focusing on land governance and the rights of vulnerable social groups, including youth, women, and indigenous peoples. He and 21 other ILC Fellows from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and EMENA, are taking part in the ILC Future Leaders Fellowship Programme 2021-22 where they are learning new leadership tools, exchanging experiences and implementing solutions around land governance, with youth at the centre of leadership.
The Global Land Forum Youth (GLFY), which will be held in Jordan from 21-23 May 2022, will be the highlight of the programme. In Jordan, together with over 70 other young people from the region, Palestine and Jordan, they will develop a global agenda and lay the foundations for an ILC youth movement.
Here is a reflection of his experience as a Fellow.
What does it mean to be a leader?
I have been working for two years on a project where one of the objectives is to build the capacity of communities to participate in decision-making on their land and to defend themselves in case of abuse. We are working to prepare leaders in the communities who can create change.
Before the programme, I was using the word leader without defining its content as relevant to my daily actions. Based on the knowledge I now have, I would say that a leader is someone who, through a sense of commitment and listening skills, humility and determination, is able to unite several different energies and ideas around an action capable of creating change.
Learning from others.
First of all, I started to learn the values of a leader from the trainers' approach. To say great things in simple words; to be at the service of others; to be rigorous and flexible; to know how to delegate; to be able to bring out the best in others so that together we achieve our goal.
I really appreciated the work on collaborative leadership, as it is an attitude and paradigm that I was missing in working with my colleagues and with other organisations on land issues. With my colleagues, I couldn't always trust them and get them involved. I used to take all the work on myself, and sometimes this affected my health and the achievement of results. But now, I have learned how to involve my colleagues, by building a discourse with them based on the recognition and valorisation of our strength as a team. Together we are building collective action. Similarly, with other organisations working on land issues, I learned to value their achievements and experiences, and networking as a key action for change.
Being part of a global network.
I have strengthened my capacity for networking, despite cultural and linguistic differences - there are 22 of us speaking 3 different languages. This is a big step forward for me as I was used to looking at land challenges only through the lens of my country. I have learnt about mobilisation strategies from others, especially from my colleagues in India who use, for example, music and theater to raise awareness and mobilise communities. So with few financial resources and an innovative approach, they reach a large target audience with a language that everyone understands. It's a change from the traditional training approaches I used to use. I plan to test this approach with the communities and young people I work with.
Young people at the centre of advocacy.
I particularly appreciated the sessions on advocacy, which is the basis for many of our actions. I learned that a good advocacy strategy also requires good knowledge and good mobilisation of the actors, especially us young people. However, to mobilise us, you have to listen to us, understand our interests, develop empathy, and work with us to create change. As part of the implementation of my action plan, I have started to give voice to young people, to listen to them, and to understand their expectations - which also resonate with me. Together with them, we are reflecting on solutions that could ensure their leadership in land and resource management. By continuing to work with them, we will eventually have a position paper that could serve as a basis for advocacy with local and national authorities.
Looking for concrete solutions.
As part of the programme, we have developed and are implementing action plans that address very specific needs of our organisations or the communities we work with.
My plan focuses on mobilising young leaders to work alongside their communities to limit the phenomenon of land sales and sell-offs. These are 25 young people (15 men and 12 women) who are suffering the effects of their parents selling off their land with the complicity of the 'land speculators'. They suffer passively, as they do not always understand the legislation and the mechanisms it provides for opposing these transactions. The work we are doing together includes capacity building for these young people on how to seek recourse and strategies for opposing land speculators, who, by grabbing land from communities, are jeopardising the present and future living conditions of many young people. Through this process, I am learning about the needs, expectations and hopes of young people in relation to land governance. This is a perspective that has been little explored so far and will be capitalised on, as it will allow me to prepare an advocacy document with these young people on the need for a better legal and practical framework for their rights over land and resources.
Towards a network of young leaders of the ILC.
Building more inclusive and just societies with regard to land management is the goal that all Fellows share and that goes beyond all cultural differences. We cannot do it on our own.
We may need more opportunities for sharing and exchange. Our actions and interactions will have to go beyond the programme. We are already a network of committed and determined young people who share the same goal. The Global Land Forum Youth will be an opportunity to share experiences, to build a common vision on youth land issues and to move towards concrete actions that put us at the centre as agents capable of bringing about and sustaining social change.
As ILC youth representatives at the Forum, we are already preparing to present a position paper on youth land challenges, perspectives for the coming years, and opportunities and roles within the new ILC 2022-2030 strategy. With this proposal, we will represent the uniqueness of our communities and our diversity, but we will also carry the voices of the youth of the world.
We must all be committed.
Through this programme, ILC offers a unique opportunity to think about tomorrow's struggle for more inclusive land governance. Preparing the young leaders of tomorrow will ensure the continuity of the fight for equitable land and resource rights for all. It is therefore an initiative to be supported, in order to build a chain of engagement. All local, national, and even global organisations need to get involved!
I would particularly like to thank and encourage ILC and its members for their approach to work based on respect and inclusion of all despite differences, as it is a source of motivation.