CIFOR & the SDGs: “An integrated, landscape approach is needed”

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has released its 2016–2025 strategy, focused on “stepping up to the new climate and development agenda”.

Part of the new Strategy 2016-2025 aligns CIFOR’s work with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Scientists James Reed and Josh Van Vianen explain why policy makers tackling the goals need to be aware of how all sectors affect each other.

How can the landscape approach help us achieve the SDGs?

James: If you look at the goals together, it’s quite clear that there’s distinct overlaps between each of the goals. For example, if you take goal two which looks at addressing hunger, goal six which looks at access to safe water, and goal 15 which is concerned with protecting terrestrial ecosystems and forests – many tropical landscapes would be faced with these issues together.

It’s going to require a holistic approach to managing them. So certainly a landscape approach offers you the opportunity to address them holistically. And if you don’t, there’s a danger of focusing too much attention on one goal – and that could be to the detriment of achieving the targets of another goal. For example, you could make great progress in boosting food production, but this could be affecting your targets towards halting deforestation in that landscape.

How can SDGs be integrated into policy?

Josh: Primarily, policymakers need to consider the impacts their policies will have across local, national and global scales. There’s no point creating policies to meet global targets if they’re not cognisant of the effects policies are likely to have at local and national scales.

James: Yeah. And I’d say, on top of that, policymakers need to be aware of the impacts of the policies they’re making. So, for example, how a policy for one sector could impact the ability of another sector operating within the landscape.

Who needs to be part of SDG implementation?

James: The signs are really encouraging. There’s been a movement away from the Millennium Development Goals, which really placed an onus on developing countries meeting their targets. This document is definitely a whole lot more inclusive and there’s been really strong commitment from both developed and developing nations.

Josh: In terms of the SDGs and the landscape approach, there’s been a big groundswell of support from everyone, really, asking and calling for these more integrated and holistic approaches. The water sector, the agriculture sector, the energy sector – they’ve all produced documents asking for more integrated and holistic approaches.

There’s a lot of theory out there, but we really haven’t got anything concrete that has been put into practice as of yet. So there’s a lot of potential for the landscape approach to meet these requirements from everybody. But it’s really time to put theory into practice and test to see if it can work.

Read more about the new strategy here.