Samuel Kagheni, who works as a Programme and Project Officer at Aide et Action pour la Paix (DRC), an ILC member organisation since 2007, is one of the Fellows of the ILC Future Leaders 2021-2022 programme. Samuel, along with 20 other young people from Africa, Asia, Latin America and EMENA, participated in an intense learning journey on different land rights and leadership issues, developed through exchanges, joint reflection and the implementation of concrete actions. The Global Land Forum 2022 (GLFY) was one of the main milestones of the programme. Samuel tells us about his experience as a fellow.
Youth, a forgotten group
From February 2018 to December 2021, I was in charge of the project "Knowing and asserting one's land rights" within AAP. During an awareness-raising activity in my community, I was challenged by a 70-year-old man: "Son, can you direct these awareness-raising activities to young people like you? Today, your ignorance of the customary laws and principles governing land is at the root of violent conflicts in our area," and he continued: "My fear is that after me, they will not be able to exploit and keep this land for future generations." As project manager, this was a valid question for me in terms of the project itself and its sustainability. But how to approach this specific group? How to collaborate? On what and how? With what collaborative leadership?
The ILC 2021-2022 Youth Fellowship Programme was the answer to these questions for me. The sessions on individual and collaborative leadership equipped me with the necessary skills in communication, delegation of power, decision making; making me proactive and attentive to others. The thematic workshops enabled me to understand the central role that land rights play in the achievement of the sustainable development goals and the leading role of youth in achieving this vision. Finally, building on the design thinking workshop, I was able to develop an action plan by clearly identifying problems, solutions and partners. The creation of "personas" was an essential exercise to better understand the experiences, needs, behaviours and objectives of my target group.
Based on the knowledge gained, in response to the needs identified in my community, I developed my action plan, which consisted in mapping the challenges we face in our struggle to access, own, govern and manage land as young people in my region.
Using a participatory and proactive methodology, through 12 focus groups and 142 individual interviews, we gave the floor to 312 young people and 10 local authorities who mapped their challenges and solutions.
The GLFY, an excellent opportunity for knowledge sharing
At the local level, through my action plan, important local challenges were identified and documented, such as land grabbing, poor land governance, loss of knowledge among youth related to their rights and land governance, violent conflicts, and land inequality, among others.
The GLFY allowed me to confirm that these problems are not specific to my region, but also affect people in Africa, Asia, Latin America and EMENA. During the Forum, I was able to share experiences and learnings with my colleagues from other regions to gain a common understanding of the global land challenges faced by young people in order to provide a coordinated response. This was expressed in our Ajlun-Jordan Youth Declaration.
Towards coordinated global actions to promote youth access to land
Young people are a force for change. The GLFY has demonstrated this. In our Declaration, we reaffirmed the immense collective power of youth to shape and create a sustainable future, finding solutions to the global problems we all face. The climate crisis, for example, threatens our existence. In the face of it, we commit our strength and innovation to agro-ecology as a strategy to combat it. Furthermore, we demand from COP27 the recognition of the role of land rights, that support traditional knowledge and practices, in addressing the climate crisis and we commit to creating a pathway for a just transition to net-zero that provides young people with access and ownership for sustainable livelihoods.
At the regional level, together with other GLFY Fellows and Ambassadors, we have formed a working group whose objective is to propose to ILC-Africa our strategy based on this Declaration in order to promote inclusive land governance for youth in Africa.
At the national level, in my country the DRC, the results of my action plan will be capitalised in the strategy being developed by the National Land Coalition (NLC) and for the improvement of the youth strategy of my organisation (AAP).
The recognition and effective exercise of young people's land rights is one of the solutions to the current global crisis because equitable land rights are the key to inclusive development, healthy and flourishing societies, and a sustainable planet. A sustainable future is only possible with the leadership and effective participation of young people. We need to further mobilise and connect our youth colleagues for our right to land and for ownership of this struggle.
We demand our active and meaningful participation in various development programmes and land sector reforms.