Adventures in REDD+,  Biodiversity,  Conservation,  Forest Communities

Community Relations Officer, Joseph Invited to Attend Conservation Youth Leadership Event During COP21

Wildlife Works Community Relations Officer Attends The Youth and Landscape Initiative in Paris

Our Community Relations Officer, Joseph Mwakima, has become one of our most visible spokespeople, representing Wildlife Works globally. In 2014, Joseph was invited to speak at One Young World in Dublin and in December 2015, he participated in The Youth and Landscapes Initiative organized by The Global Landscape Forum, a side event to the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC), in Paris.

Wildlife Works’ Community Relations Officer Joseph Mwakima speaking
Wildlife Works’ Community Relations Officer Joseph Mwakima speaking

Needless to say, we are infinitely proud of Joseph’s work and achievements. Before his trip to Dublin, he his only trip outside of Kenya was to bordering country Tanzania, where he was first invited to speak on stage on behalf of Wildlife Works. Since starting with Wildlife Works in 2011 at age 24, we’ve watched Joseph grow into a confident professional, passionate about educating his community and the rest of the world about conservation.

joseph Wildlife Works Youth and Landscapes Initiative

For COP21 in Paris this past December, The Youth and Landscape Initiative brought together 50 young innovators from all over the world to identify environmental problems and to propose solutions. The event covered topics such as right and tenure, finance and trade, measuring success, landscape restoration and education.

Participant groups were given a challenge, for which they had to come up with a solution and give a three-minute pitch to an expert panel made of conservation professionals from all over the world as if they were potential investors in their idea. Think, Shark Tank but for Climate Change! Joseph and his teammates tackled the problem of improving landscape education for rural farmers.

His co-presenters were Jhannel Tomlinson from Jamaica,a PhD student studying environmental science at West Indies University in Jamaica. The other was Diane Geurrier who is working with the Africa Climate Policy Centre as a researcher in Addis Ababa-Ethiopia but is originally from France. 

Their pitch proposed a solution to close the gap that exists between formal education and field knowledge. The group found that different landscape models exist, but not in one place.

Joseph Youth and Landscapes Initiative

They introduced the idea of an online landscape academy as a repository for the various landscape models that have already been developed by many of the institutions represented at the event. An online self-assessment tool would identify their agricultural-related competencies, including soft skills, such as their cultural understanding and technical skills, such as their agricultural knowledge. Based on the results, a customized curriculum that is appropriate to the registrants’ geographic region would be automatically developed.

People from around the world could contribute their best practices to solve landscape problems via an online community. For example, someone who has indigenous knowledge about African agriculture but wants to do agroforestry can learn from online materials or pose questions to the online community.

Joseph Youth and Landscapes Initiative

The youth participants met scholars, scientists, and climate change experts, who were at the forum to learn from these young minds. The majority of the expert panel, from The Centre for People and Forests (RECOFTC), Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Danone, The Global Water Initiative, Repo Consultancy, and The World Bank, lauded the group’s presentation. The audience gave resounding applause to their presentation.

Joseph had great fun meeting and living with people from all over the world who share a common passion for the environment. A special thank you to the Global Landscape Forum, which sponsored the participants’ flights, and to ASOS, who sponsored Joseph’s in-country expenses. We are thankful that Joseph could be part of this collaboration of young people and scientists working together to tackle global issues for future generations.

Read more about the Youth in Landscapes Initiative.

Joseph was born in the Rift Valley province of Kenya in a town called Nakuru that has a population of 300,000 people. You can follow Joseph on Twitter @jaymwakima


  • Mercy Machocho

    Congratulations to Joseph. He is indeed very passionate about conservation education and a good role model to many of us. He has indeed grown and always ready to serve his community. Great job Wildlife works for nurturing such young talents and for the many sustainable project initiatives in the Kasigau corridor!

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