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Biodiversity Day 2020 – Solutions in Nature

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The United Nations proclaimed May 22 The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to raise awareness and increase understanding of the issues around biological diversity and its fundamental role for the planet and humanity.

But what exactly is biological diversity? Biological diversity, or in short biodiversity, is often understood in terms of an abundance of diverse plants and animals present in a specific region. However, biodiversity also includes genetic differences within species — e.g., varieties of crops — and the variety of interlinked ecosystems (lakes, forests, rivers, agricultural landscapes, etc.) giving shelter and allowing interaction between those who inhabit them (humans, plants, animals, insects, microorganisms, etc.). Biodiversity is a prerequisite for life, any loss of it, is a loss for everyone and a threat for the future.

This year’s theme is Our solutions are in nature, underlining how any activity we perform is always interconnected with mother earth. Today humanity faces an unprecedented number of ecological challenges (as the current coronavirus pandemic has made evident), but any solution we can imagine and formulate is inevitably found within the same domain: nature. And nature’s barometer is biodiversity. For example, a pathway to reduce climate shocks and increase resilience to climate change is landscape restoration, which in turn is highly correlated with biodiversity levels. Moreover, maintaining high levels of biological diversity offers protection from spillovers of diseases from animals to humans (i.e. zoonoses) such as the current one we are living through, as it has been proven that biodiversity loss is a sufficient (but not necessary) condition for the increase of zoonoes.

Biodiversity is fundamental for many aspects of our lives, not only ecological health, but also to improve livelihoods, providing income source, diets, nutrition and overall well-being.

The UN has devoted the full week 18-22 May 2020 to celebrate biodiversity through 3 themes: importance of knowledge and science, importance of biodiversity itself and a call to action for the future.

2020, dubbed the biodiversity super year, is a pivotal moment to re-think our relationship with nature. This lock-down time should push us to reformulate a new normal that should focus on resilience and a common approach towards the restoration and conservation of biodiversity, inverting the disastrous trend of biodiversity loss that we have been accumulating over many deacades.

2020 will also witness the end of the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan on Biodiversity and its 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, as well as the UN Decade on Biodiversity, leading to the transitional phase for the start of other new pivotal biodiversity-related decades for the period 2021-2030: the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration; and the UN Biodiversity Summit, in order to highlight the urgency of action at the highest levels in support of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework. FTA hopes that we will be indeed able to see a positive change in the coming years.

Role of trees and FTA’s work

Trees, forests and agroforestry have an enormous role to play in preserving and enhancing biodiversity and improving human and animal life. To underline this, FTA has set the safeguarding and conservation of biodiversity as one of its main priorities. In the occasion of this day we are happy to illustrate some of the activities that our partners are carrying out in this domain.

Biodiversity in tropical forests

Our lead partner CIFOR has a specific landing page for biodiversity which gathers all the most recent publications dealing with this important topic, highlighting the extreme potential for the unknown and the strong link between forests and food security and nutrition.

Recent publications include:

The Influence of Forests on Freshwater Fish in the Tropics: A Systematic Review highlighting that the majority of studies provided evidence that fish diversity was higher where there was more forest cover; this was related to the greater heterogeneity of resources in forested environments that could support a wider range of species. Read a recent blog about this.

Maize production and environmental costs: Resource evaluation and strategic land use planning for food security in northern Ghana by means of coupled energy and data envelopment analysis.

Systematic review on impact of oil palm on biodiversity – a study focusing on the impacts on species richness, abundance (total number of individuals or occurrences), community composition, and ecosystem functions related to species richness and community composition.

Some recent online blogs also put the spotlight on the work CIFOR has been carrying out on biodiversity. We highlight this interesting piece on the extreme diversity of ecological systems present in Borneo and the large scale vegetation ecological maps crucial to manage all this biodiversity at landscape level.

Biodiversity and the Trees theme at ICRAF

Our partner ICRAF develops a number of interesting studies that are strongly linked with the analysis of biodiverse elements, as they supporting biodiversity-based livelihood strategies, requiring them to characterize patterns of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes and how these are changing as farming systems and climate alter. For example: they conduct tree species diversity inventories in farmland, considering whether the trees found are of local origin or are exotic (are introduced from elsewhere), and how common individual species are in farm landscapes.

African Orphan Crops Consortium

ICRAF has just launched the new website of the African Orphan Crop Consortium which includes a fully searchable database of 101 different crops identified as important for nutrition and livelihoods in a participatory manner by Africa’s scientists, development practitioners, consumers, and producers. Together they provide a wide range of nutritious foods, including edible roots, leaves, seeds and fruit, and encompass plants that are part of Africa’s historically neglected bounty of biodiversity. The idea is to use advanced genomic methods to support genetic improvement. These plants form a unique biological resource for crop development, but the window of opportunity to realise their value is limited as they are threatened by the relentless simplification of farming landscapes and forest loss.

This work has been featured in Nature Genomics

Vegetation Map4Africa

In order to promote tree species’ biodiversity effectively, information on what trees to plant where and for what purpose is required. ICRAF develops maps, databases and smartphone apps to better allow this. The high-resolution vegetationmap4africa (www.vegetationmap4africa.org/), for example, supports the selection of suitable indigenous tree species to plant in particular ecological zones in eastern Africa through the Useful Tree Species for Eastern Africa selection tool, which uses Google Earth to explore geographic locations and present species’ options.

Bamboo and rattan for biodiversity

Lack of bamboo planting material of particular species in required quantity and quality has always been a challenge due to the flowering nature of bamboo and lack of standardized vegetative propagation methods and selection protocols. INBAR’s previous and current development projects in Africa have set up several nurseries to scale up bamboo planting material production in Africa and Latin America. Moreover, INBAR is also undertaking ex-situ genetic conservation activities including setting up of bamboo setums and research plots. These activities are aimed at enabling large-scale bamboo based landscape restoration activities.

Read also: INBAR’s statement on International Day for Biological Diversity 2020.

Currently our partner INBAR is developing a study to obtain a deeper understanding of conservation of bamboo genetic resources in theory and practice. The study will examine the growth and performance of indigenous and introduced bamboo species, the modification of local biodiversity. The aim is to select the most appropriate species for expansion as well as developing seed sourcing and selection.

A comprehensive report on bamboo seed sourcing/selection and mechanisms for identification of superior bamboo clumps for expanding vegetative propagation will be the outcome of this research.

Building a healthy future

We highlight here two recent publications from our partner the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, one on mapping tree species vulnerability to multiple threats as a guide to restoration and conservation of tropical dry forests which was also featured as cover story for Global Change Biology. The other article illustrates the characterization of the genetic diversity of 21 wild and cultivated populations of the common walnut (Juglans regia L.) across Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. A complete threat assessment was performed evaluating the short-term threats from overexploitation, overgrazing, landslides, and fragmentation as well as long-term threats from climate change.

The Alliance also produced a series of blogs discussing the importance of biodiversity, a first one specifically on #BiodiversityDay2020, then on the threat mapping work and also a recent D4R workshop.

Read more: statement by the Alliance on the International Day of Forests.

Sentinel Landscapes, solutions for biodiversity improvements

Our partner CATIE just recently released a report on the Nicaragua-Honduras Sentinel Landscape.

The report shows how agroforestry is a sustainable alternative for rural development, and it is a conspicuous beneficial element in the agricultural landscape. Trees on farms can contribute to subsistence farmers’ strategies to face climatic or socioeconomic eventualities and can supply important goods to meet farmers’ demands.

Sentinel Landscape stocktaking pilot study: Report Nicaragua-Honduras [pdf]
Study sites were similar in terms of tree diversity and density, but differences were found in the economic benefits provided by trees. A total of 261 tree species were recorded in both sites (160 species were shared), 202 species in La Dalia and 220 species in Waslala. In terms of land uses, coffee was the land use with the highest tree diversity (197 spp), followed by pasture (189 spp), cacao (169 spp), home gardens (152 spp) and staple crops (138 spp). The most important species in terms of their abundance, frequency and relative dominance were: Cordia alliodora, Mangifera indica, Persea americana, Citrus sinensis, Platymiscium dimorphadrum, Inga oestediana, Psidium guajava, Cedrela odorata, Guazuma ulmifolia, and Tabebuia rosea.

We hope that you will find this information is useful and interesting!

Feel free to join our newsletter for updates on our work

 

Finally, we are happy to share with you A Hymn to Biodiversity an a cappella musical composition inspired and dedicated to biodiversity by composer David Rain, who contacted us through our facebook page. Well done David, it’s beautiful!

May it inspire everyone to love and protect our biodiverse nature.

 


This article was produced by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). FTA is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR, ICRAF and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • How to sweeten the deal for cocoa farmers?

How to sweeten the deal for cocoa farmers?

Cocoa. Photo by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR
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FTA communications

Cocoa is in high demand. In 2018, the global chocolate industry was worth close to USD 100 billion, and it is projected to grow. Consumers are increasingly asking for sustainably sourced products, and new kinds of investors are looking for positive environmental and social impacts, in addition to financial returns.

But, many cocoa farmers are poor, even now when the market price for cocoa is relatively high. During the past two years, when prices were lower, farmers had an even harder time making a living. So much so that Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa producers, recently demanded that chocolate companies pay a minimum floor price for cocoa, in an attempt to guarantee smallholders a minimum income.

While both countries have agreed to sell their 2020–2021 cocoa crops for no less than USD 2,600 per ton, such an agreement has been deemed to be at best a short-term fix for struggling cocoa producers. Rather, say scientists from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), the cocoa sector urgently needs to completely rethink its business models. Only then will equitable benefit sharing among all actors in the cocoa value chain be possible.

Challenges abound

Cocoa at Machu Picchu. Photo by Marlon del Aguila Guerrero/CIFOR

Peter Minang, leader of landscape dynamics, productivity and resilience research under FTA, pointed out that many national economies in Africa depend on the production of agroforestry commodities such as cocoa, cashew nuts, shea butter, and coffee, cultivated across millions of hectares of forests and parkland. Cocoa alone covers six million hectares across Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire which, combined, supplied around 75 percent of the world’s cocoa in 2018–2019.

In addition to the persistent poverty of cocoa growers, many other problems still need solving, explained Minang. These include plant diseases, such as the cocoa swollen shoot virus, which are affecting the production on several million hectares. The heavy use of pesticides is not a viable solution, as they harm human health, pollinators and the overall environment. The cocoa sector is also under pressure to eliminate the currently widespread use of child labor in West Africa.

“There’s a bigger problem, economically,” Minang continued. “Even though Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire produce 75 percent of the world’s cocoa, they capture a small portion of the total value of the global chocolate industry.”

Minang said that scientists could help provide the knowledge and support required to transform this industry so that smallholder farmers can take part in the market and benefit from its value.

[Read more: Bitter or sweet trade for Africa’s cocoa farmers?]

Investments needed

Tony Simons, the director general of World Agroforestry (ICRAF), said he wanted to encourage greater engagement with the private sector: “For every one dollar OECD donors spend on overseas development assistance in the tropics, there is a thousand dollars of private capital to be mobilized. So why are we only focused on that one dollar?”

Particularly, the emerging area of impact investment could have the potential to make a difference for cocoa farmers. About USD 500 billion of so-called impact investments are currently available. While most of this money is directed at energy, transport or waste-reduction investments within OECD countries, a growing share of impact investors seem to be taking an interest in funding land and forest initiatives in the Global South.

Dietmar Stoian, lead scientist on value chains, private sector engagement and investments with ICRAF, has conducted a series of interviews with potential impact investors to understand how cocoa farmers in Ghana might benefit from such funds. He found that current investments focus mainly on increasing productivity, while paying less attention to environmental and social issues.

“This is all very incipient, when talking about impact investments in cocoa,” Stoian said. “I think there is potential, but investors need to be conscious of the realities and needs of smallholders, and adjust their investment schemes to these conditions.”

[Read more: Financial products should be adjusted to better meet needs of community forest enterprises]

New business models

Cocoa production. Photo by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

In Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, smallholders dominate more than 90 percent of cocoa production, but they have a weak position in the value chain. Supporting the organization of smallholders into cooperatives and expanding the role of existing ones could improve farmers’ standing, said Stoian.

“One key issue is where value is added,” he explained. “For now, it happens mostly in the importing countries, not in the producing countries. But, we do have examples from Latin America where some cooperatives have become very good at processing cocoa into diverse chocolate products and placing them in domestic markets at favorable prices.”

The Ghanaian cocoa sector might take its inspiration from Bolivia, for example, where the El Ceibo cooperative is marketing organic and Fairtrade-certified cocoa beans, butter and powder to the international market, allowing farmers to capture a higher price. The cooperative has, more importantly, managed to establish its own cocoa-processing plant, and has positioned a broad array of chocolate products in the domestic market, as a gourmet chocolate choice.

Stoian said you might imagine that Kuapa Kokooo – Ghana’s largest cocoa cooperative with around 100,000 members – and other cooperatives in West Africa could create value for their members through a similar approach.

Finally, models that completely bypass financial returns could be very attractive to farmers, while remaining interesting to investors, suggested Stoian. The Livelihoods Carbon Fund, for example, has launched a program in Côte d’Ivoire through which smallholders receive funds for agroforestry systems in return for carbon credits, he said. This allows investors to mitigate their carbon footprint elsewhere, and, according to Stoian, similar schemes are being considered by impact investors in Ghana.

[Read more: If cocoa prices have fallen, why isn’t your chocolate bar cheaper?]

The role of public policy

While impact investments have potential for smallholders, public policy might play an even greater role. To understand how Ghana is in a position to impose a minimum floor price for cocoa, one needs to know that that the farm-gate price for cocoa produced in Ghana is determined by a committee involving state-led regulators.

“The terms under which companies engage smallholders in Ghana are completely dictated by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), ” commented George Schoneveld, a senior scientist working on value chains, finance and investments for the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “Change therefore starts with public policy.”

Schoneveld pointed out that COCOBOD is currently partnering with development organizations to solve important challenges, such as replacing old and disease-ridden cocoa stands with improved varieties. “They provide the planting material, replanting support and even compensation payments to enable smallholders to absorb the loss of income associated with replanting,” he said.

However, the COCOBOD-led program’s adoption rates remain low due to tenure insecurity, land scarcity, cultural barriers and other factors. This, according to Schoneveld, highlights the need to build strategic partnerships for more integrated planning and funding approaches, such as is being planned for a large landscape program on cocoa to be led by CIFOR.

Whether the answer to smallholders’ struggles is impact investment, public policy, development programs – or perhaps a combination – remains an open question. Until determined, cocoa farmers will continue to underpin the global chocolate industry, receiving not much more than a bitter aftertaste in return.

##
Some of the discussions on possible directions for a more equitable cocoa sector referenced above took place during the 4th World Congress on Agroforestry in May 2019. Research on the topic is continuing throughout FTA’s program activities.

By Marianne Gadeberg, communications specialist.


FTA is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR, ICRAF and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Reversing ‘dangerous decline’ of nature requires global initiatives to engage both men and women

Reversing ‘dangerous decline’ of nature requires global initiatives to engage both men and women

A woman works in the fields in the village of Nalma, Nepal. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR
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FTA communications

A woman carries food for her family in Nalma village, Nepal. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

Our planet is in the midst of an ecological emergency, according to several recent reports. Deteriorating biodiversity is putting food security, economies as well as human health and well-being at risk.

Reversing this ecological decline requires restoration initiatives to incorporate the needs, interests and knowledge of both men and women.

This month, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a global assessment finding that the health of ecosystems is deteriorating more rapidly than ever.

This is happening despite the efforts of several global restoration initiatives. Scientists say that such alliances would be more successful if they were more equitable.

“Not accounting for gender in restoration is equal to ignoring 50 percent of the population,” said Iliana Monterroso Ibarra, co-coordinator of gender and social inclusion research at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “On the other hand, restoration processes that include both women and men can learn and benefit from their different knowledge and practices, making the process more efficient.”

Monterroso and other experts from the CGIAR Research Program on Forest, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) shared research on the value of gender-responsive restoration work during a recent workshop organized by UN-Women and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The workshop set out to gather input for a new, gender-responsive Global Biodiversity Framework, which is to guide the countries adhering to the Convention on Biological Diversity once the current Aichi targets lapse in 2020.

According to Tanya McGregor, gender program officer at the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, there is substantial interest in, and engagement on, addressing gender issues among country parties and stakeholders involved in implementing the convention.

“We still need to build capacity and clarify what types of objectives and actions may be most appropriate to advance gender-responsive approaches to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in the context of the new framework,” she said.

Read also: Gender equality in agricultural development starts with understanding complexity

Gender lessons from REDD+

FTA has long-standing experience with research on incorporating gender dimensions into forest landscape restoration. The program’s research has shown that reaching desired social and environmental outcomes from ecosystem restoration hinges on the contribution and cooperation of the women and men who depend on these ecosystems for their livelihoods.

A woman in the village of Nalma, Lamjung, Nepal. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

After more than 15 years of implementation, the REDD+ initiative in particular can provide important clues, according to scientists. Although REDD+ is primarily a mechanism for reducing carbon emissions from forests, it does offer lessons on what implications such a long-term, on-the-ground effort has for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“The first lesson to highlight is the need to account for different interests, needs, values and behavior of both men and women around land and resources. For example, we have learned that so-called gender-neutral initiatives – really meaning initiatives that ignore the issue – risk perpetuating social differences and creating inequities,” Monterroso said.

Also, excluding either men or women will influence their willingness to participate over time, risking not only opportunities to strengthen their livelihoods, but also the potential for sustainable restoration.

The second lesson is related to putting in place the right safeguards to increase the chances for successful implementation of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Such measures include understanding whether women and men have secure rights to the land being restored, making sure that restoration work does not rely disproportionately on women’s labor, and finally recognizing existing governance structures that determine how men and women participate in decision-making processes.

“Ensuring the participation of all kinds of groups allows for an implementation that provides more benefits on the ground, not accumulating only for some,” Monterroso said.

Read also: The Gender Equality in Research Scale: A tool for monitoring and encouraging progress on gender integration in research for and in development

Starting points for biodiversity conservation

Understanding and acknowledging the importance of gender-responsive restoration work is only the first step. Second comes the question of how to make these insights operational for the countries tasked with implementing the post-2020 framework.

A Lubuk Beringin villager harvests palm nut on her agroforestry farm in Indonesia. Photo by T. Saputro/CIFOR

“We have to be very careful – not only in the design, but also in the implementation – to understand where gender considerations are important,” said Monterroso.

She explained that REDD+ experiences show that sometimes, communities and customary practices are actually highly equitable, but it is during the implementation of restoration initiatives that implementing institutions – particularly governments – can introduce inequities. Therefore, building the capacity of government officials is important, as is ensuring that they have the right tools to incorporate gender-responsive methods.

Relatedly, operationalization of the post-2020 framework is underpinned by selecting the right indicators. They need to be designed to capture data that shows the different roles and contributions women and men have in the process toward meeting the targets, she explained.

“It is not enough to count how many men and women participate in projects – we need to better understand issues such as unequal access to and control over land and productive resources as well as decision making, not only to be able to assess progress across different dimensions of gender equality but also as part of the moral imperative to leave no one behind” she said.

Finally, governance structures that implement the framework must themselves have gender equitable and inclusive processes. Monterroso: “To dream big, as they say, we need to make sure that these institutions are 50 percent women and are allocating leadership positions to women.”

An inclusive process

The FTA team noted that the recent workshop represents the kind of inclusive, multi-stakeholder process necessary to ensure that appropriate gender lessons can be identified, discussed and included going forward. Governments, multilateral and international organizations, research institutions as well as indigenous and women organizations were active in the workshop dialogue, bringing forth the right evidence and underscoring their commitment.

“The importance of including gender considerations is about more than whether the targets will be met – it’s making sure that we’re making the changes that these broader conventions, like the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Sustainable Development Goals, are calling upon us to promote – to achieve more equitable development that involves everyone in the process.”

By Marianne Gadeberg, communications specialist.


This work is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). FTA is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR, ICRAF and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Financial innovations could pave way for the New Deal for Nature

Financial innovations could pave way for the New Deal for Nature

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Diverse crops grow in a field as part of on-farm conservation project, Ecuador. Photo by M.Bellon/Bioversity International

The CBD estimates up to US$440 billion is needed annually to meet commitments in the post-2020 UN Biodiversity Framework, yet the current annual spend budget is only US$52 billion. How do we fill this huge financial shortfall? 

Biodiversity loss has become one of the most pressing environmental challenges. We seem to have reached a point of no return, after having wiped out 60 percent of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since the 1970s and half of the plants since the dawn of civilization.

Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Cristiana Pasça Palmer, said just prior to the Fourteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP14) , which recently took place in Egypt, we might only have two years left to set firm commitments for action on biodiversity loss if humanity is not to be “the first species to document its own extinction”.

CBD COP14 kicked off the processes that will lead to adopting a post-2020 global biodiversity framework and update to the CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. The New Deal for Nature  is expected to be adopted during the fifteenth meeting in Beijing in 2020. The framework is regarded as a last call to address the underlying challenges of biodiversity and ecosystem loss. It represents an opportunity for decision-makers to join urgent efforts to transform approaches to use, safeguard, restore and invest in biodiversity.

Biodiversity losses profoundly affect agricultural productivity, food and other production-system resilience and dietary nutritional quality with negative consequences for producers, whose businesses can be profoundly affected by the poor quantity and quality of their yield. Instead, optimising and preserving agrobiodiversity represent nature-based solutions to address these challenges and translate into more reliable sourcing and stable production systems while also enhancing the nutrition of agricultural products and the sustainability of the farmers. We need a drastic change in consumers’ behaviour as well as serious government commitments to create an enabling environment and establish incentives for the many actors involved in the protection and management of ecosystems worldwide.

There is no doubt that the post-2020 framework will set new and ambitious targets to protect wild biodiversity such as insects, birds, plants and mammals that are vital for global food production, clean water, carbon sequestration and more besides. However, there are multiple aspects that are critical for the success in the implementation of the framework. In fact, success in achieving the new targets might fall short if proper agreed financing mechanisms are not put in place. The CBD estimates an annual global biodiversity financing need of between US$150–440 billion, while only 52 billion is spent annually on biodiversity management leaving a huge financing gap.

Wild biodiversity provides essential services for food production. Photo by L. Sebastian/Bioversity International

Decision-makers should learn from the challenges facing the Sustainable Development Goals to mobilize funding. The topic was prominent and reflected in the COP14 focus theme ‘Investing in Biodiversity for People and Planet’. Since the financial sector has been recognized as a key actor in sustainable development, through investments that combine financial returns and positive social and environmental impacts, new innovative forms of financing have (re-) emerged, such as Impact Investing, under the heading of sustainable finance in order to raise capital for sustainable development and biodiversity conservation. Impact Investing is not new to sector experts, as it mainly refers to financing mechanisms that would allow unlocking significant private investment capital to complement public resources and philanthropy to address pressing global challenges.

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) defines Impact Investing as “investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return,” even though the definition has not yet been globally agreed, the predominant approach focuses on two minimum requirements: a viable financial return and a significant measurable non-financial impact. Still, common metrics measuring both financial performance and social impact easy for companies to measure and meaningful to investors are still lacking in many fields and leaving investments’ results subject to “impact-washing” or “green-washing” risks.

For this reason, researchers are increasingly delivering metrics to compute the impact achieved through capital invested in project or companies and to quantify the value of risks managed and costs avoided through biodiversity enhancement. Such metrics, like the Agrobiodiversity Index developed by Bioversity International, will help governments, companies and investors to assess risks and seize opportunities in food and agriculture by looking at the status of agrobiodiversity in a selected area, and assess whether their actions and commitments are contributing or not to its sustainable use.

In recent years organizations and initiatives working on solutions to combat climate change or biodiversity loss have proliferated, but with little effort to coordinate them, so the effort remains fragmented, with little impact on the ground. Indeed, all of this has not yet resulted in a major shift in finance flows toward biodiversity management. The private sector must play a more coordinated role in order to maximize its impact and ensure an effective response to society’s needs and expectations, and to help rebuild confidence in the farming and agriculture sectors. Businesses and the financial sector must align their roles with those of other actors, and the CBD needs to set key principles for investors and entry points for businesses to take action.

The expectation for the coming two years is that targets of the post-2020 framework that will be agreed and adopted are underpinned by a worldwide political will to move beyond short-termism, market interest or political support, towards longer-term results. This should create a conducive environment among companies and the financial sector and hence support a system that invests in biodiversity rather than destroying it.

By Gianpiero Menza and Isabella Pochini, originally published by Bioversity International.


For more information, contact Gianpiero Menza, Private Sector Engagement Coordinator at Bioversity International.

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  • Financial innovations could pave way for the New Deal for Nature

Financial innovations could pave way for the New Deal for Nature

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Diverse crops grow in a field as part of on-farm conservation project, Ecuador. Photo by M.Bellon/Bioversity International

The CBD estimates up to US$440 billion is needed annually to meet commitments in the post-2020 UN Biodiversity Framework, yet the current annual spend budget is only US$52 billion. How do we fill this huge financial shortfall? 

Biodiversity loss has become one of the most pressing environmental challenges. We seem to have reached a point of no return, after having wiped out 60 percent of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since the 1970s and half of the plants since the dawn of civilization.

Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Cristiana Pasça Palmer, said just prior to the Fourteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP14) , which recently took place in Egypt, we might only have two years left to set firm commitments for action on biodiversity loss if humanity is not to be “the first species to document its own extinction”.

CBD COP14 kicked off the processes that will lead to adopting a post-2020 global biodiversity framework and update to the CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. The New Deal for Nature  is expected to be adopted during the fifteenth meeting in Beijing in 2020. The framework is regarded as a last call to address the underlying challenges of biodiversity and ecosystem loss. It represents an opportunity for decision-makers to join urgent efforts to transform approaches to use, safeguard, restore and invest in biodiversity.

Biodiversity losses profoundly affect agricultural productivity, food and other production-system resilience and dietary nutritional quality with negative consequences for producers, whose businesses can be profoundly affected by the poor quantity and quality of their yield. Instead, optimising and preserving agrobiodiversity represent nature-based solutions to address these challenges and translate into more reliable sourcing and stable production systems while also enhancing the nutrition of agricultural products and the sustainability of the farmers. We need a drastic change in consumers’ behaviour as well as serious government commitments to create an enabling environment and establish incentives for the many actors involved in the protection and management of ecosystems worldwide.

There is no doubt that the post-2020 framework will set new and ambitious targets to protect wild biodiversity such as insects, birds, plants and mammals that are vital for global food production, clean water, carbon sequestration and more besides. However, there are multiple aspects that are critical for the success in the implementation of the framework. In fact, success in achieving the new targets might fall short if proper agreed financing mechanisms are not put in place. The CBD estimates an annual global biodiversity financing need of between US$150–440 billion, while only 52 billion is spent annually on biodiversity management leaving a huge financing gap.

Wild biodiversity provides essential services for food production. Photo by L. Sebastian/Bioversity International

Decision-makers should learn from the challenges facing the Sustainable Development Goals to mobilize funding. The topic was prominent and reflected in the COP14 focus theme ‘Investing in Biodiversity for People and Planet’. Since the financial sector has been recognized as a key actor in sustainable development, through investments that combine financial returns and positive social and environmental impacts, new innovative forms of financing have (re-) emerged, such as Impact Investing, under the heading of sustainable finance in order to raise capital for sustainable development and biodiversity conservation. Impact Investing is not new to sector experts, as it mainly refers to financing mechanisms that would allow unlocking significant private investment capital to complement public resources and philanthropy to address pressing global challenges.

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) defines Impact Investing as “investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return,” even though the definition has not yet been globally agreed, the predominant approach focuses on two minimum requirements: a viable financial return and a significant measurable non-financial impact. Still, common metrics measuring both financial performance and social impact easy for companies to measure and meaningful to investors are still lacking in many fields and leaving investments’ results subject to “impact-washing” or “green-washing” risks.

For this reason, researchers are increasingly delivering metrics to compute the impact achieved through capital invested in project or companies and to quantify the value of risks managed and costs avoided through biodiversity enhancement. Such metrics, like the Agrobiodiversity Index developed by Bioversity International, will help governments, companies and investors to assess risks and seize opportunities in food and agriculture by looking at the status of agrobiodiversity in a selected area, and assess whether their actions and commitments are contributing or not to its sustainable use.

In recent years organizations and initiatives working on solutions to combat climate change or biodiversity loss have proliferated, but with little effort to coordinate them, so the effort remains fragmented, with little impact on the ground. Indeed, all of this has not yet resulted in a major shift in finance flows toward biodiversity management. The private sector must play a more coordinated role in order to maximize its impact and ensure an effective response to society’s needs and expectations, and to help rebuild confidence in the farming and agriculture sectors. Businesses and the financial sector must align their roles with those of other actors, and the CBD needs to set key principles for investors and entry points for businesses to take action.

The expectation for the coming two years is that targets of the post-2020 framework that will be agreed and adopted are underpinned by a worldwide political will to move beyond short-termism, market interest or political support, towards longer-term results. This should create a conducive environment among companies and the financial sector and hence support a system that invests in biodiversity rather than destroying it.

By Gianpiero Menza and Isabella Pochini, originally published by Bioversity International.


For more information, contact Gianpiero Menza, Private Sector Engagement Coordinator at Bioversity International.

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  • Delivery of quality and diverse planting material

Delivery of quality and diverse planting material

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Delivery of quality and diverse planting material is a major constraint for restoration. What solutions, what emerging needs? The Bonn Challenge has now pledged 350 million hectares of degraded land globally for different forms of restoration. It can be an essential contribution to sustainable development, to reduce poverty, food insecurity and enhance biodiversity. However, restoration is easier pledged than done. A critical barrier to delivering restoration at scale is the lack of delivery systems at scale for diverse, adapted and high quality native tree seeds and planting material.

This discussion forum will bring together representatives from national governments who have made significant pledges under the Bonn Challenge, development actors, private sector (seed and planting material companies), civil society, and researchers from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. It will show the extent of the challenge, review and discuss the range of issues related to the set-up at scale of delivery systems of suitable and adapted seeds and planting material, for effective, sustainable land restoration. It will explore the practical technical, economic and institutional challenges stakeholders currently face in delivering at scale suitable seeds and planting material. It will also explore issues such as how to best access and leverage tree biodiversity, including native species, keeping into account the quality, origin and diversity of seeds and planting material used. It will present and discuss a range of technical, economic and institutional solutions that scientists and stakeholders have developed to address these issues. Participants will discuss the common solutions across regions and remaining gaps and barriers, as well as the need for additional innovations.

This video was first published by the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF).

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  • Guidelines for equitable and sustainable non-timber forest product management

Guidelines for equitable and sustainable non-timber forest product management

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

How can we improve local livelihoods while maintaining forest biodiversity and strengthening sustainable forest management in a socially inclusive and just manner? These guidelines present practical strategies and field examples for the inclusive and sustainable extraction, sale and management of forest products, particularly NTFPs. They build upon the framework of the Community Biodiversity Management approach in which three outcomes are sought; (1) community empowerment and social equity, (2) biodiversity conservation and (3) livelihood development (Sthapit et al. 2016). The guidelines draw upon data from the project: ‘Innovations in Ecosystem Management and Conservation’ carried out between 2014 and 2017 in districts of two Indian states: Mandla District in Madhya Pradesh and Uttara Kannada District in Karnataka.

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  • Certifying Environmental Social Responsibility: Special Issue

Certifying Environmental Social Responsibility: Special Issue

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

This Special Issue aims to contribute to the emerging science on how to maintain and rehabilitate biodiversity and ecosystem services effectively in the tropics where agricultural expansion has shaped the landscapes. Food production as a provisioning ecosystem service dominates direct economic value and employment in roughly half the world. Its sustainability, or lack thereof, depends on how the trade-offs between human activities and ecosystem services, beyond the provision of food, are balanced and managed locally and globally.

The Special Issue is a result of a research program by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). The program ‘zooms out’ from the details of certification schemes as such, and asks the broader questions of when, where and how certification responses arise to what types of issues, by whom they are initiated and what broader consequences they have.

The complete list of articles is:

  1. Environmentally and socially responsible global production and trade of timber and tree crop commodities: certification as a transient issue-attention cycle response to ecological and social issues
    Beria Leimona, Meine van Noordwijk, Dagmar Mithöfer, Paolo Cerutti
  2. Certify and shift blame, or resolve issues? Environmentally and socially responsible global trade and production of timber and tree crops
    Dagmar Mithöfer, Meine van Noordwijk, Beria Leimona, Paolo Omar Cerutti
  3. Tropical forest-transition landscapes: a portfolio for studying people, tree crops and agro-ecological change in context
    Sonya Dewi, Meine Van Noordwijk, Muhammad Thoha Zulkarnain, Adrian Dwiputra, Glenn Hyman, Ravi Prabhu, Vincent Gitz, Robert Nasi
  4. Discourses on the performance gap of agriculture in a green economy: a Q-methodology study in Indonesia
    Sacha Amaruzaman, Beria Leimona, Meine van Noordwijk, Betha Lusiana
  5. Unpacking ‘sustainable’ cocoa: do sustainability standards, development projects and policies address producer concerns in Indonesia, Cameroon and Peru?
    Dagmar Mithöfer, James M. Roshetko, Jason A. Donovan, Ewane Nathalie, Valentina Robiglio, Duman Wau, Denis J. Sonwa, Trent Blare
  6. Harnessing local strength for sustainable coffee value chains in India and Nicaragua: reevaluating certification to global sustainability standards
    Dagmar Mithöfer, V. Ernesto Méndez, Arshiya Bose, Philippe Vaast
  7. Reviewing the impacts of coffee certification programmes on smallholder livelihoods
    Joshua G. Bray, Jeffrey Neilson
  8. Making a green rubber stamp: emerging dynamics of natural rubber eco-certification
    Sean F. Kennedy, Beria Leimona, Zhuang-Fang Yi
  9. Timber certification as a catalyst for change in forest governance in Cameroon, Indonesia, and Peru
    Sini Savilaakso, Paolo Omar Cerutti, Javier G. Montoya Zumaeta, Ruslandi, Edouard E. Mendoula, Raphael Tsanga
  10. Energizing agroforestry: Ilex guayusa as an additional commodity to diversify Amazonian agroforestry systems
    Torsten Krause, Barry Ness
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  • Putting the concept of the ‘landscape approach’ into action

Putting the concept of the ‘landscape approach’ into action

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Foraged forest food on display at a local food fair in Luwingu, Zambia. Photo by Joe Nkadaani/CIFOR

“Landscape approaches” seek to provide tools and concepts for allocating and managing land to achieve social, economic, and environmental objectives in areas where agriculture, livestock, mining and other productive land uses compete with environmental and biodiversity goals. 

In this article, the Center for International Forestry Research‘s (CIFOR) James Reed and Terry Sunderland discuss getting these approaches off the ground with a new, five-year project.

Given the vast range of landscapes on this earth, we have yet to devise a singular definition of the landscape approach, but this is how we described the aim and purpose in a research paper back in 2013: The term can be as elastic as the changing and developing environments in which it’s meant to be implemented – a landscape approach is, inherently, a context-based process. As such, we assert there is not a single landscape approach, as is often presumed, but a wide range of landscape approaches that can be applied in differing geographical social and institutional contexts.

In an attempt to reconcile competing land use objectives, landscape approaches have increasingly become a dominant discourse within the conservation and development lexicon. It is now recognized that sectorial silos must be overcome to start down sustainable development pathways acknowledging interdependencies between sectors operating within multifunctional landscapes — and tropical landscapes in particular, which perpetually see gaps between knowledge and implementation and between policy and practice. Consequently, while the landscape approach discourse has continued to evolve, attempts at implementation — and particularly evaluation — in the tropics remain nascent.

Watch: FTA scientists feature in innovative series of talks on landscapes

Significant advances have been made in how we think about landscape approaches, be that in conceptual frameworks, methodological tools and resources, reviews of theoretical development and implementation, or operational guidelines. But putting them into action and monitoring progress has been a different story.

Now is the time to take this next step – to build on this momentum and see how landscape approaches can work on the ground. With all the talk about their potential, how are they put into action, and to what extent are they effective in achieving multiple objectives?

The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) has recently funded CIFOR and partners to operationalize landscape approaches in three tropical countries – Indonesia, Burkina Faso and Zambia – over the course of five years. In this work, we seek not only to use landscape approaches to address challenges in communities in these countries, but also to observe the implementation process and local uptake of such approaches. We plan to convey our findings as we go along so that others can learn simultaneously from our work.

Read also: The concept and development of the ‘landscape approach’

Resin trees are seen in West Java, Indonesia, which is a common habitat for the Javanese monkey. Photo by Ricky Martin/CIFOR

OPERATION OPERATIONALIZE

Recent UN conventions for biodiversity, climate change and sustainable development have all called for more integrated and sustainable approaches to landscape governance. International policy dialogues are increasingly doing away with perceived antagonisms between sectors and facilitating greater engagement between forestry, food, water and energy, with an enhanced acknowledgement of the role of the private sector as well.

Yet, uptake of landscape approaches within the tropics has thus far been limited, which is likely in part due to a weak evidence base demonstrating effectiveness. A recent review failed to find a single definitive example of a landscape approach in the tropics, or at least reported in scientific literature. This is not to say that they do not exist, but perhaps that grass-roots efforts lack capacity or motivation to monitor progress and formally report findings.

This project will seek to address this gap as CIFOR and partners will assume a mediating role within landscapes in Burkina Faso, Indonesia and Zambia. With a particular focus on the contribution of biodiversity and a remit to engage policy, practice and people, we will facilitate multi-stakeholder platforms and identify linkages with existing institutional structures within each of the landscapes. Through working with existing frameworks and publicly available information (such as census, health and income data, and remote sensing imagery) we hope to further develop a model for scaling up our efforts easily adopted by governments, NGOs and other institutions.

Read also: Agroforestry offers pathways to sustainable landscape restoration

A MATTER OF TIME

The long-term nature of the funding is a crucial foundation for this effort, as it presents a rare opportunity to adopt the mindset of moving from “project to process” by examining and explaining how dynamic processes of social, political, economic and environmental interactions work over time within these landscapes. It allows us to learn deeply through diagnosis, rather than focus on generating immediate results within the rigid confines of a project framework.

As such, over the course of the next five years, our research team intends to embrace two key components of the landscape approach philosophy. Firstly, we will think beyond typical project-cycle timelines and structures and become more fully established and integrated within the target landscapes.

Secondly, in contrast to many prior approaches, we will attempt to facilitate a truly trans-disciplinary approach to all activities, from design and implementation to governance and evaluation. Rather than having a preconceived agenda of what the landscape and its stakeholders should fulfill, we will engage with open minds and a suite of tools designed to enhance stakeholder engagement and action, assess divergence in stakeholder perception and objectives, and in turn generate an increased understanding of the landscape dynamics. Only then, can we build stakeholder capacity to make more informed choices, evaluate progress, and empower previously marginalized groups to more effectively engage in decision-making processes.

Ultimately, we hope that this process will not only contribute to a more robust evidence base for landscape approaches but also enhance stakeholder capacity and landscape sustainability within the target landscapes. A key objective is to work in tandem with landscape stakeholders to co-construct a shared learning platform that can improve our understanding of landscape dynamics in these countries. While we are not blind to the complex challenges of integrating conservation and development, we are committed to implementing and reporting on these landscape approaches and developing an inclusive dissemination strategy with our colleagues at the Global Landscapes Forum. We hope that both the positive and negative outcomes that emerge will contribute to our understanding of the conditions under which landscape approaches can develop and therefore inform future evidence-based research, policy and practice agendas.

By James Reed and Terry Sunderland, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.

For more information on this topic, please contact Terry Sunderland at [email protected] or James Reed at [email protected].


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)

 

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  • Putting the concept of the ‘landscape approach’ into action

Putting the concept of the ‘landscape approach’ into action

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Foraged forest food on display at a local food fair in Luwingu, Zambia. Photo by Joe Nkadaani/CIFOR

“Landscape approaches” seek to provide tools and concepts for allocating and managing land to achieve social, economic, and environmental objectives in areas where agriculture, livestock, mining and other productive land uses compete with environmental and biodiversity goals. 

In this article, the Center for International Forestry Research‘s (CIFOR) James Reed and Terry Sunderland discuss getting these approaches off the ground with a new, five-year project.

Given the vast range of landscapes on this earth, we have yet to devise a singular definition of the landscape approach, but this is how we described the aim and purpose in a research paper back in 2013: The term can be as elastic as the changing and developing environments in which it’s meant to be implemented – a landscape approach is, inherently, a context-based process. As such, we assert there is not a single landscape approach, as is often presumed, but a wide range of landscape approaches that can be applied in differing geographical social and institutional contexts.

In an attempt to reconcile competing land use objectives, landscape approaches have increasingly become a dominant discourse within the conservation and development lexicon. It is now recognized that sectorial silos must be overcome to start down sustainable development pathways acknowledging interdependencies between sectors operating within multifunctional landscapes — and tropical landscapes in particular, which perpetually see gaps between knowledge and implementation and between policy and practice. Consequently, while the landscape approach discourse has continued to evolve, attempts at implementation — and particularly evaluation — in the tropics remain nascent.

Watch: FTA scientists feature in innovative series of talks on landscapes

Significant advances have been made in how we think about landscape approaches, be that in conceptual frameworks, methodological tools and resources, reviews of theoretical development and implementation, or operational guidelines. But putting them into action and monitoring progress has been a different story.

Now is the time to take this next step – to build on this momentum and see how landscape approaches can work on the ground. With all the talk about their potential, how are they put into action, and to what extent are they effective in achieving multiple objectives?

The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) has recently funded CIFOR and partners to operationalize landscape approaches in three tropical countries – Indonesia, Burkina Faso and Zambia – over the course of five years. In this work, we seek not only to use landscape approaches to address challenges in communities in these countries, but also to observe the implementation process and local uptake of such approaches. We plan to convey our findings as we go along so that others can learn simultaneously from our work.

Read also: The concept and development of the ‘landscape approach’

Resin trees are seen in West Java, Indonesia, which is a common habitat for the Javanese monkey. Photo by Ricky Martin/CIFOR

OPERATION OPERATIONALIZE

Recent UN conventions for biodiversity, climate change and sustainable development have all called for more integrated and sustainable approaches to landscape governance. International policy dialogues are increasingly doing away with perceived antagonisms between sectors and facilitating greater engagement between forestry, food, water and energy, with an enhanced acknowledgement of the role of the private sector as well.

Yet, uptake of landscape approaches within the tropics has thus far been limited, which is likely in part due to a weak evidence base demonstrating effectiveness. A recent review failed to find a single definitive example of a landscape approach in the tropics, or at least reported in scientific literature. This is not to say that they do not exist, but perhaps that grass-roots efforts lack capacity or motivation to monitor progress and formally report findings.

This project will seek to address this gap as CIFOR and partners will assume a mediating role within landscapes in Burkina Faso, Indonesia and Zambia. With a particular focus on the contribution of biodiversity and a remit to engage policy, practice and people, we will facilitate multi-stakeholder platforms and identify linkages with existing institutional structures within each of the landscapes. Through working with existing frameworks and publicly available information (such as census, health and income data, and remote sensing imagery) we hope to further develop a model for scaling up our efforts easily adopted by governments, NGOs and other institutions.

Read also: Agroforestry offers pathways to sustainable landscape restoration

A MATTER OF TIME

The long-term nature of the funding is a crucial foundation for this effort, as it presents a rare opportunity to adopt the mindset of moving from “project to process” by examining and explaining how dynamic processes of social, political, economic and environmental interactions work over time within these landscapes. It allows us to learn deeply through diagnosis, rather than focus on generating immediate results within the rigid confines of a project framework.

As such, over the course of the next five years, our research team intends to embrace two key components of the landscape approach philosophy. Firstly, we will think beyond typical project-cycle timelines and structures and become more fully established and integrated within the target landscapes.

Secondly, in contrast to many prior approaches, we will attempt to facilitate a truly trans-disciplinary approach to all activities, from design and implementation to governance and evaluation. Rather than having a preconceived agenda of what the landscape and its stakeholders should fulfill, we will engage with open minds and a suite of tools designed to enhance stakeholder engagement and action, assess divergence in stakeholder perception and objectives, and in turn generate an increased understanding of the landscape dynamics. Only then, can we build stakeholder capacity to make more informed choices, evaluate progress, and empower previously marginalized groups to more effectively engage in decision-making processes.

Ultimately, we hope that this process will not only contribute to a more robust evidence base for landscape approaches but also enhance stakeholder capacity and landscape sustainability within the target landscapes. A key objective is to work in tandem with landscape stakeholders to co-construct a shared learning platform that can improve our understanding of landscape dynamics in these countries. While we are not blind to the complex challenges of integrating conservation and development, we are committed to implementing and reporting on these landscape approaches and developing an inclusive dissemination strategy with our colleagues at the Global Landscapes Forum. We hope that both the positive and negative outcomes that emerge will contribute to our understanding of the conditions under which landscape approaches can develop and therefore inform future evidence-based research, policy and practice agendas.

By James Reed and Terry Sunderland, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.

For more information on this topic, please contact Terry Sunderland at [email protected] or James Reed at [email protected].


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

This research was supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)

 


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