Sustainable Land Management in sub-Saharan Africa: Major research project sets off

Status-seminar participants at IDOS in Bonn.

June 02, 2023.  

Four regional transdisciplinary research projects on sustainable land management in sub-Saharan Africa and the accompanying project INTERFACES met for their first Status Seminar in Bonn on April 26-28, 2023. The projects are funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) under their FONA platform on research for sustainability.

More than 100 participants both in-person in Bonn and virtually from across the participating countries met to share the outlines of the five projects, which are:
COINS (Co-developing innovations for sustainable land management in West African smallholder farming systems), DeClaRe (Decision support for strengthening land resilience in the face of global challenges), InfoRange (Increasing efficiency in rangeland-based livestock value chains by co-designed digital technologies and machine learning approaches), Minodu (Fostering local sustainable development though technology and research), and INTERFACES  (Supporting Pathways to Sustainable Land Management in Africa).

ZEF is the lead institute of INTERFACES, which is planned to run for four years and is funded with around 1.3 million euros.

Welcomes were issued by Anna-Katherina Hornidge (IDOS), Karsten Hess (BMBF) and Tina Beuchelt (ZEF and INTERFACES) followed by an address by Johns Muleso Kharika from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Mr. Kharika highlighted the need to accelerate innovation in the implementation of land-based solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa and invited all project partners to a closer cooperation with his organisation.

The three-day seminar offered a range of online sessions to facilitate participation across all consortium members in the various projects. INTERFACES (Tina Beuchelt and Hannah Jaenicke – both ZEF senior researchers) presented information about the services it will offer to the regional projects, including: synthesizing knowledge through dialogues on future visions and theories of change, facilitating implementation processes from research results to adoption, communication, networking and knowledge management, as well as capacity development, education and providing a gender lens to research.

Further interactive workshop sessions, organized by the four regional projects as well as by individual project partners, provided room for discussion, learning and the identification of areas for collaboration amongst the projects. Workshop topics included, amongst others, a hands-on introduction to decision modelling, supporting formal and informal education with massive open online courses on Earth observations, putting transdisciplinarity into action through collaboration learning, development of innovative formats for science communication, and a session to aid program-wide alignment of Geographic Information, Remote Sensing and Decision Support System activities.

The participants highlighted the value of knowledge exchange and identifying synergies for future research activities as key benefits of the Status Seminar. As one participant said, the stakes are now set high for the Second Status Seminar, planned for 2025 in Ghana, where participants will hopefully be able to meet each other in person.



Tina Beuchelt

Dr. Tina Beuchelt


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