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Adaptive landscape institutions

In most landscapes, various interventions to meet the Sustainable Development Goals tend to be conducted in parallel, driven by different stakeholders with varying interests. However, in a landscape, what happens in one sector impacts other sectors and hence there is a need to integrate actions by multiple stakeholders.

This cluster of activity aims to provide ways for institutionalizing, on the ground, the landscape approach, in a bid to create appropriately informed governance schemes and evidence-based environments for collective decisions, to manage tradeoffs and maximize synergies between various actors and sectors, and have other complex dynamics well considered in order to achieve multiple objectives.

Investments for restoring ecosystem services tend to be uncoordinated, unaware of enabling or disabling laws and policies, and largely driven by the perspectives of the investors rather than ecosystem and community needs. An integrated approach will promote synergy, avoid duplication of efforts and provide opportunities for shared learning.

There are many ways by which ecosystem services can be restored within landscapes in terms of both different desired changes (e.g. restoration to forest or agroforest, use of ecosystem-service-friendly agroforestry practices) and different types of intervention (regulations, incentives or markets for ecosystem services). There is a need to devise processes and institutions to help stakeholders understand the range of possible options available in a landscape and to make decisions given multiple objectives.

In addition, there is growing concern for the need to provide attractive employment and livelihood perspectives for young people in agriculture and forestry. Many countries are confronted with an aging population of farmers and/or an increasing active population with high rates of youth unemployment. Youth need platforms that can launch their entrepreneurial skills, creativity and ambitions with a focus on providing profitable solutions for food security and environmental management. To create impact, interventions also need to enhance gender equity.

FTA assesses the enabling conditions and elements including improved local governance and related instruments (e.g. land-use plans, green economy plans), and examines how policy instruments and incentives (including payments for ecosystem services) can be deployed to enhance the achievement of multiple objectives on the ground; FTA also aims at better conceptually defining the role of research in support of and embedded into these processes, in contact with stakeholders, including through action research.

FTA’s work looks to strengthen gender and youth innovations through institutional capacity to increase their ownership and voice in natural resource management as well as paying specific attention to environmental justice concepts and their application in local institutions. This will allow for critical reflection on current generic theories of change and the diverse roles of agency for change, while also taking into account political economy and political ecology aspects of the constraints to guiding policy and enhancing landscape governance.

Multiple methods, tools and approaches are developed. Central to the process are inclusive and participatory approaches (landscape democracy), alongside decision and negotiation support and capacity-building tools. This cluster also links with other FTA work on property management and governance. It further provides a platform for an exchange of lessons learned across FTA. It also serves as a link to the other three clusters of activity by collecting, synthesizing and packaging results and information into formats that can be shared as evidence for policymaking and other intervention efforts by various actors.

Examples of research activities for this cluster include:
Assessment of legal frameworks and formal institutional constraints to the management of mosaic landscapes in Burkina Faso;
Practitioner guides on lessons shared in Africa, Asia and Latin America covering socioeconomic, ecological and governance dimensions of payments for environmental services (PES) concepts, with case studies that show diversity of contexts and the relevance of local reinterpretation of ideas and concepts;
Reflection on the multiscale character of the ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ phrase that so far has been primarily used at international negotiation tables but that may increase space for local adaptive landscape management;
Compilation of lessons learned at landscape scale across learning landscape networks for reporting on the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

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