Alan Channer: A film-maker’s calling to 'land, lives and peace'

CDLS Impact Stories: Alan Channer

21/03/2019
Alan Channer

Alan Channer was working on a peace project in Baringo County, in the drylands of northern Kenya, when he received an invitation to a conference on ‘Restoring Earth’s Degraded Land’ in Caux, Switzerland in July 2011. The conference was the inspiration of Luc Gnacadja, then Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). 

Northern Kenya was in the grip of a vicious cycle of environmental degradation, climate change, food insecurity, conflict and displacement, so the conference seemed relevant to Alan and his team at the United States Institute of Peace and in Initiatives of Change.

Alan and his colleagues returned to Kenya eager to test the idea that land restoration could help reduce conflict over dwindling resources.  IofC partnered with  two local community-building organizations to run a workshop on trust-building for sustainable development in Marigat, Baringo County, a hotspot of conflict between pastoralist communities.  It was facilitated by Kenyan IofC activists Joseph Karanja and Joseph Wainana and Alan.

The community leaders who attended the workshop generated an action plan to end cattle-rustling in the county. Alan made a short film, Restoring Land, Restoring Lives, which featured on the UNCDD video gallery. Shortly afterwards, the team of community leaders in Baringo were selected by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to serve as independent observers of the national elections in March 2013.

‘Without peace, we cannot have development in this county,’ the Deputy Governor of Baringo County, Mathew Tuitoek, said at a meeting with the IofC team. He went on to lead a delegation of five county officials to the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security in 2013, funded by the County Government.  From that point, the ripples of the Caux Dialogues on Land and Security began to spread across Kenya.  Meanwhile, Alan joined the Steering Group of the Initiatives for Land, Lives and Peace programme (ILLP).

The next year, Deputy Governor Gabriel Lagat, from neighbouring Elgeyo Marakwet County, brought a second team to Caux.  During his keynote address, he offered to host a Caux-style Dialogue on Land and Security in Kenya – and invited ILLP to co-organize it with him.

This invitation was a watershed for Alan.  During the time of early morning reflection at the Caux conference, he shared that he had been wondering whether he should spend a prolonged spell in Kenya with his family.  It seemed that Dr Lagat's vision was one that he should respond to, and that 'land, lives and peace' was a calling he should pursue, despite the financial uncertainty. 

Joseph Karanja, Janet Jeruto, Stephen Kimaru, Simon Thuo, Meera Shah, Paul Keitany and Alan organized two Dialogues on Land and Security in Kenya – in 2015, in Baringo County, and in 2106, in Elgeyo Marakwet County. The events were supported by the governments of the two counties, the National Drought Management Authority, the National Land Commission, Coffey Kenya and several other institutions.  They had strong participation from the World Agroforestry Centre and World Vision and other agencies in Kenya. Highlights of the second Dialogue were broadcast on national television primetime news.

Alan’s own engagement with the synergies between land restoration and peace building deepened. He wrote a chapter on 'Trust-building and mobile pastoralism in Africa' in a book inspired by the Caux Dialogues, Land Restoration: Reclaiming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future, (Elsevier, 2016). He became a Programme Associate of the EverGreen Agriculture Partnership at the World Agroforestry Centre and produced two short videos with them, to encourage small holders to use nitrogen-fixing trees alongside their maize crops.  He began researching the potential of farmer-managed natural regeneration as a window for conflict transformation in conflict-prone drylands.

He made a film with UNDP in Chad to highlight the importance of building trust between pastoralists and farmers. He worked with Nigerian mediators, Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye, to conceive a project on transforming pastoralist-farmer conflict in Nigeria which won the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations /BMW Intercultural Innovation Award in 2017.  The aim was  to foster a win-win-win for the parties to a conflict and the environment.

Alan is pioneering in 2019 a 'Caux Land and Security Summer Academy' for mid-career professionals in the fields of peace and security and environmental restoration, in a partnership between ILLP and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.

He looks back on all that has unfolded in the seven years since he received an email on the shores of Lake Baringo inviting him to ‘Restoring Earth’s Degraded Land’. He says, ‘Today's extraordinary global challenges require innovative, holistic responses.  CDLS brings together an incredibly diverse array of important actors in a spirit of trust and co-operation; it makes the generation of innovative, holistic responses possible. It gives me fresh hope for the future of people and planet.’

------

Initiatives for Land, Lives and Peace aims to deepen understanding of links between land degradation and human security and to build the trust needed for effective collaboration on the ground and in ‘land-peace partnerships’. As a programme of Initiatives of Change International, it inspires, equips and connects people to address world needs, starting with themselves.

Among other activities, each year ILLP organizes the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security in the Swiss village of Caux, in collaboration with Initiatives of Change Switzerland, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The CDLS is much more than an annual Dialogue. It is located at the centre of a growing network of practitioners working on every aspect of human security and ecosystem restoration. They support each other, inform each other, and collaborate with each other.

Featured Story
Off

related stories

Tools for Changemakers 2019

Tools for Changemakers 2019

The first edition of the ‘Tools for Changemakers’ conference took place from 14-18 July 2019 at the Caux Forum. It was based on the conclusions from the conference ‘Addressing Europe’s Unfinished Busi...

Grampari Deepek Jadav CDLS 2019

Grampari : un programme inspirant de développement en Inde

Le jeudi 27 juin 2019, lors de la première séance plénière du Dialogue de Caux sur la Terre et la Sécurité, l’association Grampari a été présentée. Deepak Jadav, qui y est engagé depuis 2012, a mis en...

Mohamed Sahnoun commemoration 2019 picture

Commemoration of the life of Mohamed Sahnoun

Mohamed Sahnoun was an Algerian diplomat and President of Initiatives of Change from 2007 to 2008. His great ability to listen and understand others enabled him to bring together certain conflicting p...

CAUX palace view

Caux becomes even greener

The Caux Conference and Seminar Centre already saves energy in many ways. It has also installed wood-chip fuelled heaters, which use local resources rather than importing oil. Now Caux is becoming eve...

TIP 2019

Towards an Inclusive Peace 2019

The importance of working closely with local communities and promoting a creative and inclusive peace was at the forefront of the third and final edition of the ‘Towards an Inclusive Peace’ conference...

ELB 2019 cards

Ethical Leadership in Business 2019

The Caux Forum 2019 kicked off last week with the Ethical Leadership in Business (ELB) conference which ran in parallel with the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security. The Ethical Leadership in Business ...

JG 2019 audience

Just Governance for Human Security 2019

This year’s Just Governance for Human Security conference, part of the Caux Forum, focused on good governance, social inclusion and healing memory. These three human security pillars were linked to th...

Bram Jonker

Bram Jonker: How technology impacts children

Bram Jonker is involved in bringing innovation and technology to the digital transformation within Deloitte Tax & Legal. It may be his first time at the Caux Forum but he is no stranger to the Caux Pa...

Brian Iselin

Brian Iselin’s fight against modern slavery

The sun is slowly setting but the air is still warm as ten people form a circle to listen to Brian Iselin’s captivating story told during the human library as part of the Ethical Leadership in Busines...

Official Opening 2019 audience

Caux Forum 2019: Opening Ceremony

Is Trustbuilding a forgotten factor in today’s world? With this question in mind, about 80 participants listened and reflected as the Opening Ceremony on the afternoon of 26 June kicked off the 2019 C...

CDLS 2019 Patrick Worms

Caux Dialogue on Land and Security 2019

Since 2013, activists, experts, farmers and leaders have come together at the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security to explore the potential of land restoration in peacebuilding. This year, from 27 to 30...

Marc Barash

Prophet of green compassion

Marc Ian Barasch describes himself as ‘a social entrepreneur, a communicator, a meditator, a networker’. A glance at Wikipedia shows he is also an international thought-leader and innovator. The title...

Ben Callison

Loving more than the solutions

Ben Callison is Managing Director of Borneo Orangutan Survival UK (BOS-UK), which works to protect the critically endangered orangutan and its habitat in Indonesia. Prior to this Ben served as Preside...

CDLS Jennifer Helgeson

The Magic of Caux

As one of the founding members of the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security, Dr Jennifer Helgeson remembers the excitement of its earliest stages. After moving from the UK to the USA, her direct involvem...

CDLS 2017

CDLS Round Table Declaration 2018

Discover the declaration by the participants of the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security 2018....