Executive Summary: Key messages and recommendations from the Global Landscapes Forum for UNFCCC negotiations and Sustainable Development Goals

The Global Landscapes Forum, a 2-day event held on the sidelines of the UN climate change negotiations in Warsaw, was designed to inform the negotiations and design of global climate and development frameworks — specifically the post-Kyoto Protocol process and the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), respectively — about a “landscapes approach” to development.

This “landscapes approach” seeks to integrate policy for multiple land uses within a given area to ensure equitable and sustainable use of that land while bolstering measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It aims to balance competing demands on land by looking holistically not just at the features of the land, but at all of the internal and external variables that affect land use — from forestry to agriculture to trade to culture to politics — instead of considering them separately from each other.

The Global Landscapes Forum hosted 35 technical sessions, plenaries, sub-plenaries and discussion forums — including a session focused on young farmers and young practitioners in the field of agricultural policy. The sessions addressed such questions as:

  • How can investments into landscapes be scaled up? And what are the current constraints?
  • What can existing climate change mitigation efforts such as REDD+ contribute to and learn from a landscapes approach?
  • How can we provide food security to a growing population while managing our natural resources sustainably?

The following is an edited compendium of key messages and recommendations derived from the discussions and addressing the issue of how the landscapes approach can contribute to climate negotiations and SDG processes. To read the full key messages, download the PDF.

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1. How can the landscapes approach contribute to the UNFCCC process?

Agriculture
The world has technologies, systems and practices to move ahead, but it needs a UNFCCC framework to stimulate action and investments, not least on adaptation, for which funding is currently marginal and negligible compared with mitigation. The UNFCCC should:

  • Provide an integrated way of approaching mitigation and adaptation that captures all the related co-benefits for on the ground actions
  • Urge negotiators to consider smallholder interests. We need to ensure that a fair share of climate finance goes to smallholders to prevent the inappropriate capture of resources by elites.

From CCAFS, CTA, Sub-Plenary 3: Synergies between adapting to and mitigating climate change in forest and agricultural landscapes; World Bank, Discussion Forum 7: Farm and smallholder opportunities: Synergies and opportunities for integrating agriculture, trees and forests; CCAFS, CLUA, WFO, Discussion Forum 2: Rolling up our sleeves on agricultural mitigation for landscape benefits

Forestry
Reduced deforestation and improved social outcomes require sustainable commodity supply chains, which can best be achieved by a commitment to strategic coordination among actors. With respect to forestry, the development of holistic national forestry programs is one of the most rational solutions for the next decades to mitigate climate change taking into account social dimensions. The UNFCCC should:

  • Address the underlying causes of forest loss, including unsustainable livestock production and consumption, which cannot be addressed through REDD+ and individual projects.

From University of Michigan, The Forests Dialogue, Technical Session 1.6: Managing Landscape for Food, Fuel, Fiber and Forests; Global Forest Coalition, Technical Session 2.2: Land, Landscapes, Livestock and Farms

Water
Watershed management is a nested multi-scale, multi-stakeholder and multi-sector approach within the overarching landscape concept. The landscapes approach is a long-term proven approach through watershed management/territorial development to improve the adaptive capacity and resilience of rural communities and secure food security. The UNFCCC should:

  • Recognize that such large-scale interventions generating multiple livelihoods, food security and global environment benefits need reliable long-term and multi-sector support and funding mechanisms beyond conventional project approaches.

From Global Donor Platform, Technical Session 2.5: Towards a sustainable landscape approach: New generation of integrated watershed management programs for rural development, resilience and empowerment

Youth
Young people are sources of much-needed innovative ideas and energy. Capacity development of youth movements within these processes is critical for them to contribute to their future. In developing sustainable solutions to tackle climate change issues, the UNFCCC should:

  • Engage with and listen to the voices of youth across landscape sectors.

From YPARD, Youth: The Future of Sustainable Landscapes

Legal frameworks
Policymakers should provide incentives and enforceable legal frameworks that support local and regional level actors to work across jurisdictions and sectors, and coordinate upwards and downwards to enable effective landscape governance systems and to achieve multiple benefits and climate resilience from landscapes.
From LPFN, EcoAgriculture Partners, Technical Session 1.3: Exploring Governance Strategies for Integrated Landscape Management

Landscape approaches to sustainable development and wise use of resources require legal frameworks that integrate governance from local to national scales and that coordinate the interests and actions of different sectors. Science has an important role to play in providing evidence for effective policy making. A policy learning architecture is needed to assess how interests and imperatives are prioritized and how collaborative solutions can be found.
From IUFRO, IDLO, CIFOR, Discussion Forum 10: Governance and legal frameworks for sustainable landscapes

REDD+
Many climate-related policies would benefit from assessing the potential joint impact of multiple sectors of a landscape. Models should be used to simulate and map potential impacts, e.g. biodiversity loss, commodity production trends, change in land cover to inform land-use planning and REDD+ policies. The UNFCCC should also:
Recognize and prioritize the rights, needs and role of rights holders like indigenous peoples, peasants, pastoralists and women and their indigenous territories and community-conserved areas. These groups often carry the main burden of trade-offs and offset approaches like ‘land degradation neutral’ policies and REDD+.
From UNEP-WCMC, Technical Session 1.1: Supporting landscape-scale planning for REDD+: How useful are land-use change models?; Global Forest Coalition, Technical Session 2.2: Land, Landscapes, Livestock and Farms

Mountains
A landscapes approach that includes mountains can be prioritized in the UNFCCC process and raise awareness about the vulnerability of mountain ecosystems to climate change, the melting of glaciers and the impact on water resources worldwide. It would also raise awareness about indigenous solutions and about the need for policies that promote resilience and adaptation in mountain areas.
From Mountain Partnership, Technical Session 2.10: Building climate change resilience in mountains

Investment
Sustainable rural landscapes are an environmentally sound and low-cost option for mitigating and adapting to climate change: Investing in adaptation in rural landscapes can be a no-regrets pathway to mitigation. There’s a role for both public and private sectors in this area, as businesses are increasingly committed to sustainable supply chains. The challenge is to put in place policies that creates good governance and attracts long-term responsible private investment within a stable tenure environment.
From World Bank, Sub-plenary 1: Investing in Sustainable Landscapes in Forests and on Farms

For integrated landscape management to succeed, financing, both public and private, must be coordinated between sectors, sources, timings, and functions.
From UN-REDD, Technical Session 2.8: Financial strategies for integrated landscape management

Diversity
Diversity at the landscape level — of landscape elements, species and genetic resources, resource management practices and livelihood options — enhance ecosystem and human resilience. Policies, institutional support, research and resource management should seek to maintain and enhance diversity and avoid simplification. Reflecting this approach in formulation and implementation of countries’ National Adaptation Plans would enhance long-term adaptation.
From FAO, Sub-plenary 4: Building resilient landscapes for food security and sustainable livelihoods

Ecosystem services

Increasing the diversity and quantity of plant crops and animals in the system will provide a wide range of complimentary ecosystems services that will increase system performance at every level from nutrient and water cycling to pest, disease and climate regulation. Restoration of degraded landscapes and maximizing their ecological services potential through sustainable land and livelihood use, e.g. via organic agriculture, enhances the productive performance of the landscapes in terms of food and nutrition, feed for livestock and more organic matter for soil fertility and productivity as well as drought resilience and soil stability against wind and flood erosion. Incorporating greater functional biodiversity into the landscape, both below and above ground, will significantly increase overall resilience and livelihood options as well as protect native biodiversity and natural resources. Landscape approaches that restore and strengthen ecosystem services will contribute to resilient land and livelihoods providing adaptation and mitigation benefits.
From IFOAM, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Biovision, Millennium Institute, Discussion Forum 11: Resilient land and livelihoods: Organic practices and enabling policies for food security and people-centered rural development

Gender
Projects on landscape management should contribute to mitigating and adapting to climate change. These projects should also contribute to transforming unequal relationships between men and women. Women farmers are especially important in increasing food security and ensuring a sustainable management of natural resources. The UNFCCC should:

  • Focus on and enable more knowledge and technology transfer to women on the ground, especially in the farming sector and in REDD+.

From WFO, IUFRO, CIFOR, FANPRAN, Discussion forum 4: Linking gendered knowledge with gender-responsive action in the landscape: What works?

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2. Why is a landscapes approach important for the design of the Sustainable Development Goals?

Landscapes approach
The landscapes approach — which takes a holistic view of a broad range of land use and interactions between human activities and environmental responses — should be an effective tool for sustainable development. Landscapes approaches provide the ideal framework for the development of land-related sustainable interventions, such as balancing food security, timber supply and ecological conservation for the provision of ecosystem services.

A landscapes approach would provide a platform to accurately portray the relative contribution of agricultural mitigation actions on food security, climate adaptation and sustainable development.
— From Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Technical Session 2.9: Landscapes – a holistic approach to forests, water and agriculture systems in the context of climate change; Farming First, CCAFS, CLUA, WFO, USDA, AAFC, CCAC, Discussion Forum 2: Rolling up our sleeves on agricultural mitigation for landscape benefits

Research and evidence
Science-based evidence related to agriculture and food security scenarios, in the context of climate change, is critical in guiding the design of the SDGs. Scenario-building, inclusive of crop modeling and economic modeling forecasts, should be considered in an interdisciplinary approach.
— From WLE, Technical Session 1.4: Re-thinking investments in sustainable landscapes and livelihoods

Inclusion of stakeholders
The landscapes approach provides a new way for more inclusive forecasting. We simply can’t think only about climate, agriculture and food security, without thinking also about technology and social impacts and changes, population trends, economical changes, and politics.

Landscapes approaches enable communities and other stakeholders to manage the natural resources and ecosystems at scale and in the long term so as to generate sustainable food and agriculture, socio-economic and environmental benefits at local and national levels as well as contributing to the global goals of the Rio convention (food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture, water, biodiversity, climate change, combating land degradation).

The SDGs should support rights-based, socially just, effective, and holistic policies to address the drivers of forest loss and ecosystem degradation, including demand-side drivers. They should also recognize and prioritize the rights, needs and positive contribution to ecosystem conservation of marginalized groups like indigenous peoples, local communities, pastoralists and small-scale farmers.

Healthy and resilient landscapes are key to achieve and secure food security and nutrition as well as poverty eradication. People-centered landscape approaches ensuring sustainable management of natural resources can achieve multiple goals: environmental, economic and social. Include organic agriculture, in the proposed SDGs, as an indicator of the uptake of sustainable agriculture and food systems that provide nutrition, additional green jobs and poverty alleviation and ecosystem service benefits.
— From WLE, Technical Session 1.4: Re-thinking investments in sustainable landscapes and livelihoods; Global Donor Platform, Technical Session 2.5, Towards a sustainable landscape approach: New generation of integrated watershed management for rural development, resilience and empowerment; Global Forest Coalition, Technical Session 2.2: Land, Landscapes, Livestock and Farms; IFOAM, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Biovision, Millennium Institute, Discussion Forum 11: Resilient land and livelihoods: Organic practices and enabling policies for food security and people-centered rural development

Monitoring and evaluation
Achievement of enhanced sustainability goals requires transparency, effective monitoring, and evidence-based impact assessment of commodity supply chain interventions, as well as multi-stakeholder cross-sectorial partnerships. Moreover, landscapes approaches and their focus on sustainability is a better guarantee human well-being in the long term than individual land-use sector strategies.
— From University of Michigan, The Forests Dialogue, Technical Session 1.6: Managing Landscape for Food, Fuel, Fiber and Forests

Governance and policy
Effective local ownership, control and governance are essential for maximizing contributions of landscapes to food security and human well-being. Countries should strengthen and empower local institutions, including farmer and forestry organizations, and support governance mechanisms that enable local people’s active role in resource planning and decision making and avoid inequities in gender or resource endowment.

Designing viable landscape governance systems that support a holistic framework and the needed institutional arrangements and decision-making processes for integrated planning and management across sectors, jurisdictions and multiple levels of government that will address the full range of needs, environmental, social and economic from the rural land base.

Innovative interventions are required to achieve sustainability in the diverse SDG priorities. Landscape approaches can help develop a collective undertaking. For holistic solutions, we should learn from policies, laws and instruments used by multiple levels, public and private sectors, and scientific knowledge. A coherent design of SDGs can facilitate durable solutions on the ground.
— From FAO, Sub-plenary 4: Building resilient landscapes for food security and sustainable livelihoods; LPFN, EcoAgriculture Partners, Technical Session 1.3: Exploring Governance Strategies for Integrated Landscape Management; IUFRO, IDLO, CIFOR, Discussion Forum 10: Governance and legal frameworks for sustainable landscapes

Economic paradigms
The landscape approach, REDD+ and the Green Economy are converging around the need for food security, poverty eradication and climate action. REDD+ can be a catalyst for a new economic paradigm to invest in natural and social capital. Production of new investment asset classes, like carbon, should be configured in ways that support sustainable landscapes, but to successfully scale up, long-term enabling conditions are required. An SDG focusing on sustainable landscapes could unlock private sector innovation and investment, turning trade-offs into synergies.
— From UNEP, EcoAgriculture Partners, Discussion Forum 6: Landscapes in a Green Economy

Ecosystems
Building a comprehensive SDGs framework should include an integrated landscape perspective. This would enable and compel the development of mutually supportive goals, while breaking down institutional silos. A landscape-based indicator would provide an integrated and coherent picture, thereby measuring the performance of future SDGs.
— From CBD, Discussion Forum 1: Ecosystem conservation and restoration for healthy and productive landscapes 

 


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