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  • Integration is name of the game that forests and agriculture need to play

Integration is name of the game that forests and agriculture need to play

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Banyan trees beside a river. Photo by FAO Forestry Mediabase
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Banyan trees. Photo by FAO Forestry Mediabase

Sustainable development of agriculture cannot be reached without acknowledging the important role forests have in landscapes and in value chains.

Agroforestry systems include not only traditional but also modern land-use systems where trees are managed together with crops and/or animal production systems in agricultural settings.

Whenever trees can be kept intact rather than be cleared for the purposes of agricultural production and forest ecosystems can thrive alongside crops, the more benefits are reaped. Considering this there is a need to facilitate the integration of agriculture and forestry relevant policies, allowing them to play better, together.

However, what is needed is a forward-looking focus on research, knowledge-generation and scaling-up with development of strong partnership among many different stakeholders. This is exactly what a side event at this year’s CFS 44 entitled “Forests, trees and agroforestry for food security and nutrition and the SDGs: Research and partners, toward a joint action agenda” aimed to debate.

The event itself was organized in a partnership between a large number of different stakeholders, including the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), The Netherlands Government, Tropenbos International and SIANI.

A strong case has been made for scaling up agroforestry in order to address the need for more productive and sustainable use of the land while assuring livelihoods and quality nutrition for the growing world population. In fact, as stated by FAO in their presentation on agroforestry, there is a constantly growing body of scientific literature that clearly demonstrates the gains accruing from agroforestry adoption, especially in regards to the improvement of the environment and people’s lives.

Continuing to invest in research is therefore essential. As FAO outlines “the agroforestry systems are dynamic, ecologically based, natural resource management systems that diversify and sustain production in order to increase social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all scales.”

Click here to read the full story on the CFS website, by #CFS44 Social Reporter Ksenija Simovic.

As part of the live coverage during CFS44, this post covers the Forests, trees and agroforestry for food security and nutrition and the SDGs side event.

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  • Getting down to business: Seminar promotes shift toward inclusive investment

Getting down to business: Seminar promotes shift toward inclusive investment

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Carpenter Hervé Bougar makes a living from doors and furniture in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR
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Tropenbos International Director Rene Boot speaks during the seminar on inclusive investments and business models. Photo by Nguyen Phuong Ha/Tropenbos International

A growing number of investors want to have a greater positive impact on people’s rights and livelihoods in areas where they do business. 

Tropenbos International (TBI), one of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry’s (FTA) partner institutions, held on Sept. 14 a workshop titled Towards inclusive investment and business models for improved land governance and livelihoods: Are we on the right track? in Ede, the Netherlands.

Part of a broader series of annual seminars on sustainable forest management in the tropics, the event brought together finance, business, land use and development experts to address how to work with smallholders and learn from existing business cases.

Amid cases in which large-scale agricultural investments have damaged local livelihoods and ignored biodiversity and traditions, international organizations have established guidelines to help mitigate the adverse effects of investments. However, a growing number of businesses and investors want to exceed such guidelines, aiming for a positive impact on local communities’ livelihoods and tenure rights through their investments.

Carpenter Hervé Bougar earns a living from making doors and furniture in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR

“A growing number of investors aspire to make the transition from ‘doing no harm’ toward ‘doing good’,” TBI director René Boot said in opening the seminar. “The positive news is that this can be done.”

The discussions not only raised awareness on the importance of moving from the do-no-harm to the do-good approach in investing in smallholder land management, but also provided evidence of the feasibility and scaling-up opportunities from such an approach.

Participants shared experiences on best practices and made recommendations on strategies, mechanisms and follow-up actions to enhance investment in inclusive business models that improve the livelihoods, land security and entrepreneurial potential of smallholders.

Read more: Attention to detail is necessary for zero deforestation intentions to succeed, say scientists

Furthermore, the seminar contributed to the improvement of a working paper titled “Improving the positive impacts of investments on smallholder livelihoods and the landscapes they live in.”

Discussions on the paper covered ways for investors to improve the positive benefits of their investments, namely recognizing rights, effectively engaging, and the need to “think landscape.”

The findings of the seminar indicated that by recognizing local practices, as well as working with local communities, investors can benefit from greater local support. The findings also stated that understanding on a landscape scale could lead to production diversification and improved local food security.

The seminar, which was organized by TBI and other organizations working in the Netherlands, can be seen as a precursor to future work that TBI will carry out as part of FTA’s research theme on sustainable value chains and investments to support forest conservation and equitable development.

Timber is piled outside a building as part of the Kanoppi Project in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Photo by A. Erlangga/CIFOR

Key scientists intend to build upon the body of work under FTA in order to make explicit the connections between responsible financing schemes and the development of inclusive business models, as part of the conditions needed to support more sustainable landscapes.

“The approach undertaken by TBI constitutes a key piece in building financing schemes that can contribute more positively to business models that work for the environment and smallholders, supporting broader agendas on sustainability and inclusivity,” said FTA Flagship 3 leader Pablo Pacheco.

“The research on value chains and finance in FTA will continue building in these innovative approaches,” he added.

Read more: Sustainable value chains and investments

“At TBI, we see the report and the seminar – and all the preliminary work – as an important contribution to FTA research and engagement work, in advancing the agenda for it, and on which to base further collaborative activities, particularly in the field of inclusive business and finance,” said TBI program coordinator Herman Savenije.

“We see this topic of inclusive finance and business as an important one in which we can learn a lot by actively engaging with those worlds. In the Netherlands I feel the thinking in the finance and business worlds on inclusiveness has advanced somewhat, though still with some frontrunners, and we have started building networks with them,” he added.

The day of presentations from nine speakers yielded numerous insights and ideas – including that scaling up is easier if one can show clear profits; that there is a clear ‘missing middle’ between small and large investments; and that transparency is vital – many of which are contained in the summary report.

Evidently, research on investments for improved land governance and livelihoods, which will be built upon by TBI and other institutions as part of FTA, is indeed on the right track.

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Editorial and Communication Coordinator

This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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