18 October 2017

On 15 June 2017, a high-level symposium organised by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) the will take place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. This event will be held in the framework of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. It will address Africa's increasing problem with land degradation that is contributing to unemployment and distressed migration of rural youth. Ministers will explore the sustainability and security challenges as well as opportunities to bring stability and growth.

The Planetary Security Initiative will participate in the symposium. We are interested in learning more about how key decision-makers from Africa understand the relationship between land use, climate change, migration and security. Scaling up land(scape) restoration with a view of offering green jobs is one of the actions needed to reduce migration and security risks. 

Globally, 20% of young people aged between 15 and 29 years are willing to migrate permanently to another country. Youth who work but live in poverty are the most inclined to migrate, with those from sub-Saharan Africa (1 in every 4) among the most willing. The region has the highest level (70%) of youth who work but live in poverty. Africa’s mostly rural population, which is growing rapidly, is facing unprecedented livelihood challenges due to the combined effects of degrading land, low levels of development and weather-related disasters. With their natural capital rapidly shrinking, young jobless men, in particular, face stark choices to manage household risk and support their families. More of them are searching for alternatives far from their home communities. The challenges they face in the process amplify their potential exposure to extremist groups that capitalize on this sense of hopelessness.

The event is hosted by H.E. President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso. H.E. President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, and H.E. President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, and several ministers of environment, foreign affairs and interior from across Africa will participate in the event.