Dawuni, currently based in Los Angeles and Ghana, was nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album, “Branches of the Same Tree,” which features original tunes, including Afro dancehall mashup “African Thriller,” released with a striking video.
The singer has long been a supporter of human rights initiatives aimed at alleviating poverty and other social inequalities, speaking out on environmental concerns, health issues, rights for women, clean water and international peace efforts.
He also backs a Cadbury-sponsored “Bicycle Factory,” which has shipped more than 30,000 bicycles to help children travel long distances to school in Ghana, where the company sources much of its cocoa for chocolate products.
Dawuni will headline at the two-day GLF in Nairobi, which will be held on Aug. 29-30, performing at UN Environment headquarters for a crowd of about 1,000 people, including landscape restoration experts, policymakers, financial experts, indigenous and community leaders tackling continent-wide challenges related to land degradation.
Erik Solheim, U.N. Environment executive director and environmental activist Wanjira Mathai, daughter of 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement Wangari Maathai, will speak at the forum.
Dawuni received an early introduction to the international music scene through his father who — despite his royal status as chief of the Konkomba tribe in Bunbon Nayili village in northern Ghana — was stationed for a period of time as a cook at a U.N. forces base in Egypt.
In Ghana, Dawuni was exposed to a range of local musical styles, and while attending the University of Ghana in the capital Accra, he formed his first band.
He has played alongside widely known musical giants Peter Gabriel, Bono and Stevie Wonder.
Almost a third of Africa’s landscape is degraded due to human exploitation and related climate change, including farming and resource extraction activities, which cause damage to the climate, the environment, and increase poverty-related risks, including hunger, poor health and migration. Worldwide, 2 billion hectares – a land mass larger than South America – is degraded.
Landscape restoration has proven effective at reversing damage, can mitigate climate change and lead to improvements for communities, helping to meet the U.N. anti-poverty Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), key to the GLF mandate. Co-coordinated by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), UN Environment and the World Bank, with funding from Germany’s environment and international development ministries, GLF campaigns for landscape restoration.
Swirling speculation has hinted at the possibility that a U.N.-sponsored Decade of Ecological Restoration could be launched among several major announcements and agreements to be sealed at the Nairobi event.