Developing financial data on sustainable land use for investors

By Florence Bernard

What often prevents public and/or private bodies to invest in sustainable land use practices is a lack of tangible information to decide between several options against comparable metrics, reliably inform expectations of risk and return, for informed investment decisions. Very little data, if any, is available on either the financial requirements or performance of various sustainable land use practices.

One of the key objectives for the ICRAF-led SECURED Landscapes (Sustaining

Farmer in Cameroon explaining latex tapping. ICRAF and TMP are working on a project to understand how public and private financial investors can be encouraged to provide capital for sustainable land use practices Ecosystem and Carbon benefits by Unlocking Reversal of Emissions Drivers in landscapes) project, is to understand how public and private financial investors can be encouraged to provide capital for sustainable land use practices. TMP Systems – a finance and technology consultant focusing on asset management, economic development and climate change – provided technical guidance on this area with assistance from ICRAF

TMP Systems has built financial models that help to determine whether certain sustainable agricultural practice projects being piloted by ICRAF are financially profitable, and how they compare with the practices currently in place. Using field data from the country projects, they found for instance that the suggested sustainable practice in Indonesia (replacing oil palm plantations with Jelutong latex tree) showed a profitable return which was more than coffee agroforestry system but less than oil palm system.

The sustainable practice suggested in Vietnam (intercropping of maize with Acacia Mangium and Melia Azeradach) did not show a profitable return, however it did significantly improve on the base case scenario (mono-cropping of maize, cassava and rice).

Another key finding from the TMP Systems study was that combining improved production practices with post-harvest value chain upgrades (such as in areas of storage, energy, transportation, training and collective aggregation, etc.) can provide optimal outcomes in terms both of sustainability and livelihoods. However much of the data that would usually be required to develop such financial model was not available so TMP Systems had to rely heavily on proxies for certain inputs. It follows that better data and more robust financial models are needed to provide accurate cost benefit analysis that meets the needs of investors.

Building on the analysis of existing routes to finance for sustainable land use practices, TMP Systems recommends that public and philanthropic money should be used to make sustainable land use practices investment ready. This means developing enabling conditions for production, access to market, and reporting. Then, in order to get to scale, aggregating smallholder loans and securitizing cash flows through intermediary organizations like ICRAF could be an attractive proposition to private financial investors.

To attract more public and private financial investors, there is need to make sustainable land use practices an understandable and attractive niche for investors, and to have more data that makes it easy to value  assets and returns. While need for robust, reliable and comparable data is crucial, the cost of sending people out to collect data is astronomical and even more for projects like ICRAF’s at smallholder level. At the same time the reporting must be standardized and location specific. To address this challenge, TMP Systems is currently developing a Field Monitoring System that can combine self-reporting and a high level of automation. This promises to be a major improvement on current methods in terms of cost, efficiency, data quality and reliability, and adaptability to different local contexts and investor requirements.

Fast tracking REDD+ in Peru

By Elizabeth Kahurani

In 2010, the Peruvian government announced a commitment to preserve a total of 54 million hectares of forest and reduce the country NET deforestation to zero by 2021. The implementation to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) has been seen as a strategy to achieve that ambitious goal.

However, researchers looking at REDD+ Readiness in Peru, find that action and progress over a period of three years (2011-2013) has been minimal. They used an analytical framework on REDD+ Readiness developed by the ASB Partnership to evaluate Peru’s progress in setting up the needed structures and processes to implement the UN led mechanism.

Guided by the framework, interviews with key REDD+ stakeholders were conducted to understand how the country scored on functions required in a country’s REDD+ Readiness process –Planning and Coordination; policy, institutional, and legal framework; MRV and audit; Demonstration and Pilots; Financing; Benefit sharing. These were measured against defined progress indicators.

“We found that progress was limited due to a number of factors captured in three main areas –lack of leadership and capacity to coordinate and engage with different sectors, a gap in knowledge of the processes driving deforestation and appropriate trans sectoral policy responses, hence the need for a stronger integration of REDD+ into national and regional plans,” says Dr Valentina Robiglio, Climate Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre in Latin America and lead author of the study.

For instance, important government ministries, civil society, and communities had not been involved from the beginning and that has hindered efforts. “The start towards REDD readiness process was rapid, championed mainly by international partners, donors, international and national experts. As such, much of the ground work that was required for a conducive political environment and institutional cross-sector coordination was bypassed,” says Dr Robiglio.

She further noted that failure to understand the social-political context within which deforestation and degradation happens led to crucial gaps in planning for the readiness process through the identification of priority areas for intervention.

The study recommends integration of REDD strategies into policies and ensuring linkages between national and subnational functions to aid towards clarifying rights, land allocations, land-use monitoring and thus ensure equity and efficiency in benefit sharing.

Beyond REDD+ readiness: Land-use governance to reduce deforestation in Peru article is part of a journal special issue Climate Policy vol.14, no. 6 focusing on The Political Economy of Readiness for REDD+. All articles in this issue are open access.

Citation: Robiglio, V., Armas, A. D., Aguad, C. S., White, D. 2014 Beyond REDD+ readiness: land-use governance to reduce deforestation in Peru. Climate Policy 14 (6) 734-747

REDD+ impact on Indonesia’s Forest Governance

By Elizabeth Kahurani

ASB Partnership training on Land Use Planning and Management in Jambi Province, IndonesiaDespite challenges and controversy surrounding the initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), there is no denying that the mechanism has set in motion structures and processes on which climate change regimes can build on both at the national and international levels. For Indonesia, there is evidence that the REDD+ initiative has had considerable impact on forest governance.

In a new study, Reform or Reversal: the Impact of REDD+ Readiness on Forest Governance in Indonesia. Scientists used a new analytical framework on REDD+ Readiness and interviews to determine how well along the country is doing in getting ready to implement the initiative and associated governance reforms. The analytical framework provides a set of functions and indicators as criteria with universal application. The main functions include: Planning and Coordination; policy, institutional, and legal framework; MRV and audit; Demonstration and Pilots; Financing; Benefit sharing.

Indonesia is known to have demonstrated high level political will and commitment when the president declared the target for the country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% with national resources or up to 41% with international support by 2020. However, stakeholders interviewed in the study indicated the need to accelerate operational framework to address issues on tenure, carbon rights and conflict resolution.

There was a high score for REDD+ pilot projects as they are many and spread out within the country, though concern was with the need for better coordination and finding ways to incorporate lessons at project level to national scale.

With regard to planning and coordination, respondents cited the need for a REDD+ institution in order to enhance coordination between relevant sectors and stakeholders.

“On MRV, the country is yet to make significant strides though there is a Road Map for Forestry MRV to identify key activities,” says Putra Agung, lead author of the study. He further adds that a financial system and instruments for public and private sector funding are still in discussion and action was needed to clarify benefit-sharing mechanism.

“To demonstrate results on emission reduction, REDD+ must reward good performance and produce incentives through adequate compensation and co-investment across relevant scales,” says Dr Meine van Noordwijk, Chief Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre.

Overall, REDD+ has had a positive impact on forest governance in Indonesia. In this study, the function on policy, institutional, and legal framework received a high score. Moreover, the REDD social safeguard, the commitment by various ministries to hasten the gazettement of forest boundaries, and the constitutional recognition of indigenous people to manage forest have been significant in attempts to resolve land tenure issues.

The study Reform or Reversal: the Impact of REDD+ Readiness on Forest Governance in Indonesia is part of a journal special issue Climate Policy vol.14, no. 6 focusing on The Political Economy of Readiness for REDD+ available on open access.

Citation: Agung, P., Galudra, G.,van Noordwijk, M., Maryani, R. 2014 Reform or reversal: the impact of REDD+ readiness on forest governance in Indonesia Climate Policy 14 (6) 748-768

Positioning institutions for forest governance in Cameroon

By Elizabeth Kahurani

For any country, developing an institutional framework on forest governance that incorporates and seamlessly coordinates activities between various sectors and stakeholders with varying interests and ideas can be quite a challenge. In most developing countries like Cameroon, this challenge seems to be compounded by other factors such as dependency on international actors and power concentration at the national level.

Meeting with community cocoa field farmers in Cameroon. Institutions need to empower communities for effective implementation of REDD+According to a new study looking at institutional dimensions of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) in Cameroon, ‘external organizations appear to play a dominant role in the implementation of REDD+ demonstration activities.’ In addition, international consultants and organizations seem to lead discussions in climate change forums, a situation that has resulted in “ambiguity of the REDD+ development process in Cameroon, particularly with regard to institutionalized patterns of action,” says Serge Ngendakumana, lead author of the study. He points out that this may not be unique to Cameroon but a challenge in other developing countries as well, and seems to be a scenario played out at the UN climate talks debate on the REDD+ process where developing countries viewpoints are not fully incorporated. “While collaboration with international bodies is key especially in developing capacity, national actors need to set up clear and transparent country-specific norms and rules to ensure sustainability,” says Serge.

The study was conducted through interviews and is framed around a REDD+ nested policy structure with four principles of -Institutions, Interests, Ideas, and Information. “Using this 4I’s framework, there is strong potential to build strong interplays for actors’ flexibility in current discourses,” explains Serge. The structure comes with recommendations for implementing social safeguards to avoid negative impacts on the local community.

With regard to power relations and participation, the study found that in comparison to other actors, responsibilities are vested on state agents to the extent that these institutions will be both the regulators and managers of forest carbon, raising concerns of effectiveness and transparency in the process.  “As this and other studies recommend, there is need for co-management in the process especially with the local communities,” recommends Dr Peter Minang, who is also an author in the study. In addition, the private sector including the agribusiness and logging companies need to be part of the process as they present both threats and opportunities. “Some of them can be funding sources for payment for ecosystem services initiatives,” says Dr Minang.

To promote an even distribution of power relations and inclusiveness, the study developed a governance framework that stands on key institutional sectors acting together with stakeholders at a landscape level to empower communities to implement REDD+ activities. Communities can be empowered through actions such as secure land and tree tenure, agroforestry and other climate smart agricultural techniques for increased production.

“The model we propose in this study if applied can build capacity for the local communities thus reducing their vulnerability, ensure fair compensation, and promote institutional coordination,” says Serge. Proposed governance framework for forest governance at landscape level

The REDD initiative presents an opportunity for Cameroon to benefit from efforts to keep the country’s forest standing. To realize benefits, forest governance structures need to be assessed and changes made to ensure a fair transparent, and coordinated process.

 Institutional Dimensions of the Developing REDD+ Process in Cameroon study is part of a journal special issue Climate Policy vol.14, no. 6 focusing on The Political Economy of Readiness for REDD+. All articles in this issue are open access.

Citation: Ngendakumana, S. Minang, P.A. Feudjio, M. Speelman, S. Van Damme, P. Tchoundjeu, Z. 2014 Institutional dimensions of the developing REDD+ process in Cameroon Climate Policy 14 (6) 769-787

Is Cameroon REDD+ Ready? Stakeholders weigh in

By Elizabeth Kahurani

Cameroon is endowed with a dense tropical rainforest part of the Congo Basin. This natural resource is estimated to cover about 42% of the country’s total land area and bodes environmental, as well as socio-economic benefits for the country, particularly for indigenous forest-dependent communities.  But the forest is threatened by high rates of deforestation,  and degradation.

Field practicals during ASB Partnership training on Estimating Opportunity Costs for REDD+ in CameroonAction taken by the government to curb this trend include being part of the global mechanism REDD+ -(Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks).

REDD+ is meant to support voluntary efforts to mitigate climate change by developing countries and provides financial value on carbon sequestered through the initiative. To actively participate in REDD+, a country has to go through various levels of preparation in a process called REDD Readiness.

To determine how far Cameroon is in this process, a recent study employed a framework with a set of universal applicable criteria developed by scientists at the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins. The criteria consists of six main functions, several sub-functions and indicators for successful implementation of REDD+. The six main functions are: Planning and Coordination; Policies, Laws and Institutions; Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) and Audit; Benefit Sharing; Financing; Demonstration and Pilots. The framework has a standard application and countries can use this framework to evaluate their REDD+ performance against other participating countries.

Cameroon’s score on the functions and indicators provided by the framework was determined through interviews with key REDD+ stakeholders at various levels of government, civil society, development partners, academic, and media. An extensive literature review was also conducted.

Overall, the country seems to do well on planning and coordination, political will and commitment through action taken with regard to institutional aspects; and in demonstration and pilots projects.  Functions that got low ratings were on legal, benefit sharing, MRV and Audit, and financing.

The study proposes a number of recommendations for Cameroon to fast track their readiness process. These include the need to complete the country REDD+ Strategy in order to enhance coordination between government ministries, establishing the National Observatory on Climate Change as an independent body with budget and mandate to implement activities, strengthening enforcement of government legislation within the forest sector, and providing clear channels for conflict resolution and addressing rights issues.

“To draw in the private sector, the idea of a carbon concession in which forest blocks are allocated to companies that can manage and sell carbon and proceeds shared between the government and communities is advanced,” says Dr Dieudonne Alemagi, lead author of the Cameroon study.

“Challenges to do with MRV can be tackled through engagement with regional and international initiatives with developed tools and methodologies that can be modified for local application,” he adds.

Developing a devolved mechanism through existing structures such as the annual forestry fess, Land fees, REDD+ performance-based payments is further explained as a way to improve benefit sharing and financing for REDD+ in Cameroon.

Being a rich forest country, Cameroon could take advantage of ongoing initiatives and opportunities to strengthen its forest sector. This study contributes practical steps for the country in this journey.

Source: REDD+ readiness process in Cameroon: an analysis of multi-stakeholder perspectives? part of a journal special issue Climate Policy vol.14, no. 6 focusing on The Political Economy of Readiness for REDD+. All articles in this issue are open access.

Citation: Alemagi, D. Minang, P. A. Feudjio, M. Duguma, L.A. 2014 REDD+ readiness process in Cameroon: an analysis of multi-stakeholder perspectives? Climate Policy 14 (6) 709-733

Climate Smart Territories organize communities to manage the ecosystem

By Marianela Arguello and Mary Coffman 

Ultimately, success in conservation efforts largely depends on decisions and actions by communities that live in and benefit from different ecosystem services.

Farmer Field School in the Trifinio Territory; participative learning mechanisms are key elements of Climate Smart Territories. Photo credit: Maicon BarreraClimate Smart Territories (CSTs) are social and geographical spaces where actors collaboratively manage ecosystem services to equitably improve human well-being. They do so by continuously optimizing land use and engaging in activities to both stop/prevent further emissions and also adapt to climate change effects. This calls for collective efforts within a highly organized society.

The concept of CSTs is elaborated in chapter 6: Climate Smart Territories (CST): An integrated approach to food security, ecosystem services, and climate change in rural areas of the new book Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice.

 CST approach is championed by CATIE (Tropical Agricultural and Higher Education Center) – an institution where decades of experience and commitment in the field have resulted in an integral vision for work in the territories. The book chapter brought together contributions from researchers and implementers in CATIE as well as strategic partners in Colombia.

The main objective of the chapter is to clearly explain the importance of the CSTs, their key elements and characteristics, as well as the way they differ in comparison to other territorial management approaches. The article presents clear examples of CSTs that have been carried out and are in the process of implementation in Huila, Colombia, and the Central American region, where the Mesoamerican Agro-Environmental Programme (MAP) works in the Trifinio and NicaCentral area.

Bastiaan Louman, leader of CATIE’s Climate Change and Watershed Programme, coordinated the study, and understands in great depth the essential aspects that need to be recognized in the CST approach; among them, that each farm or forest is part of something larger, making collaborative actions fundamental.

 “The CST approach gives great importance to the organization of society, so that everything feels like part of the territory,” Louman says. He explained that through CATIE’s experience working in the field, it has been possible to see how the CSTs have helped to emphasize governance factors and the growth of people’s capacities to analyze their situation, and define answers to problems that they find and face through mutual contributions. The farmer field schools (FFS) where farmers learn from each other, the systematization of experiences, applied and collaborative research and the multi-stakeholder platforms are key elements in this process of strengthening capacities.

 “Capacities that combine technical and local knowledge need to be strengthened, but also, the organizational part needs to be strengthened so that in the future, residents can respond to new challenges, such as the ones faced every day with more force and frequency due to climate change,” added Louman.

In the example of the work being carried out by CATIE/MAP in the Trifinio and NicaCentral region many constructive results have evolved from local level collaborations with the farmers, learning in conjunction with researchers, change agents, and producers, and making use of established local and regional platforms. These processes have strengthened the capacities that are needed to address critical issues at different geographical scales (such as ecosystem services) as well as increasing climate-smart practices.

Using this and other examples, the authors show that CST can be implemented successfully by first strengthening the communities resolve to CST so that the required changes can begin to take place. This implies the need for joint planning, monitoring and leadership; negotiation mechanisms; and, the use of systems to generate and share information related to climate and other natural resources.

Realizing landscape restoration initiatives through Landcare

By Clinton Muller & Dennis Garrity

The global agenda is turning its attention to landscape restoration initiatives. 

Visions have been set, such as the objective of Land Degradation Neutrality championed through the UNCCD at Rio+20.

Targets have been defined, including the Bonn Challenge to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020.

The new challenge now is how will these landscape restoration initiatives be realized?

National governments have demonstrated tremendous leadership in enacting sound policy to support landscape restoration initiatives. Landcare Group in Nigeria distributing seedlings as part of a revegetation project Ethiopia for instance, has committed to restore 150 million hectares of degraded land, more than one-sixth of the country’s total land area.  Likewise, Guatemala is working towards restoring 1.2 million hectares of it’s 10.7 million hectare land mass.  Many NGO’s and other agencies have also embarked on programs and activities to support these objectives.

While invariably the intent of achieving these goals are well grounded, the processes in which to fully realize them now, and into the future, are still being defined.

Landcare can bring a lot to the table to contribute to the discussion.

Founded independently, yet simultaneously in Australia and Germany in the mid 1980’s, Landcare is an approach based on the notion of communities caring for their landscape.  The model, based on the values of community empowerment and collective action to develop and apply innovative solutions to natural resource management challenges, has often been identified as ‘bottom-up’ rather than the conventional ‘top-down’ program design. 

It is the focus on the bottom up mechanism that places community at the forefront of landscape management and decision making activities.  This is not to suggest community can achieve these outcomes in isolation.  Lessons from the Landcare approach in Australia, which has scaled to a national program with more than 4,000 community Landcare groups, demonstrates the importance of effective partnerships.  Strong partnerships exist between voluntary community Landcare groups in Australia with various government agencies, NGOs and the private sector, as well as research institutes. 

Together, the Landcare community of Australia has changed their rural and urban landscape in supporting the reversal of land degradation.  Through the collective efforts of community Landcare groups, the Australian landscape has been transformed, as witnessed by:

  • the planting of millions of trees, shrubs and grasses
  • riparian protection works
  • restored water quality through streambank stabilization and stock exclusion from waterways
  • improved ground cover, grazing methods and soil management
  • protection and regeneration of remnant native vegetation for habitat; and
  • stronger, adaptable and resilient rural communities

The success of Landcare is not just isolated to Australia.  Strong evidence exists in the more than 30 countries globally who have embraced Landcare.  Communities have reclaimed erosive hillsides in Claveria, Philippines for agricultural production.  Farmers in Kapchorwa, Uganda, have protected the forested area of Mt Elgon and rehabilitated erosive hillslopes through re-vegetation and the development of community by-laws to address free grazing.  Degraded and erosive grasslands in Iceland have been rehabilitated by farmers through the seeding of lyme grass.  These actions have all been undertaken through the Landcare approach.

Realization of initiatives to restore global landscapes will require a coordinated response.  Establishing global, regional and national targets whilst facilitating conducive policy environments is essential.  Equally so is the engagement of the community at the grassroots.  Landcare provides a mechanism to realize this. 

Ultimately the realization of the vision for Landscape restoration will rest with the community, not just in the present through the adoption of remediation works, but also the adoption of a Landcare ethic to sustain landscape management into the future.

Source: This blog is based on Chapter 11: Landcare - a landscape approach at scale of the New book: Climate-smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

Citation: Catacutan, D., Muller, C., Johnson, M., & Garrity, D. (2015). Landcare – a landscape approach at scale. In Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M., Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (Eds.) Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, 151-161. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)



Focusing on Multifunctionality – achieving success through a landscape approach

By Olivia Freeman

The success to a landscape approach results from its ability to perform various functions and meet multiple objectives by exploring opportunities to link and create synergy between different actors. For a climate-smart landscape, this involves addressing climate change alongside other environmental or social objectives.

Promoting sustainable landscape transformations in multifunctional landscapes requires an integrated approach. Landscape at the foothills of Mt. Elgon National Park in southeast Uganda. Photo credit: Connor J. CavanaghTo achieve this integration, it is important that objectives are clearly defined and potential synergies appropriately identified within the context of the specific landscape. Distinguishing between primary and secondary objectives is part of this process. Primary objectives drive the project priorities. Interventions within the landscape therefore seek to promote multiple primary objectives. In comparison, secondary objectives can be seen as co-benefits (when having a positive effect) or externalities.

In practice, often both primary and secondary objectives are lumped all together. This can result in primary objectives not always being effectively addressed and instead just assumed they are being achieved. An example of this is the performance of improved cookstoves. While they can create climate, health and other livelihood benefits, different kinds of stoves can have varying levels of performance for each type of benefit. Therefore the type of stove chosen should be dependent upon the primary objectives of the project, but this is not always the case. Similarly some agricultural practices will have varying benefits depending on where they are applied. For example, sustainable agricultural intensification may have both climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits in some places and adaptation and livelihood benefits in others.

Therefore, synergies sought in integrated landscape approaches need to be specifically focused around the primary objectives driving the approach. To achieve these synergies sometimes compromises need to be made, as it is not always possible to achieve optimal conditions for all objectives.

Landscapes are dynamic systems that are usually in some state of flux. Promoting sustainable landscape transitions will therefore require an iterative, adaptive approach. To effectively achieve multifunctionality there first needs to be a strong incentive to take a landscape approach. This can be driven from the local level based upon the need to reduce land degradation or from the national or global level based upon the desire to address climate change.

Overall landscape approaches are well positioned to promote what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) call ‘climate-resilient pathways’: “…development trajectories that combine adaptation and mitigation to realize the goal of sustainable development…for managing change within complex systems.” The success of landscape approaches will be largely dependent on their ability to effectively achieve multifunctional outcomes.

Source: This blog is based on chapter 3: Characterising multifunctionality in climate-smart landscapes of the new book Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

Citation: Freeman, O. E. (2015). Characterising multifunctionality in climate-smart landscapes. In Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M., Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (Eds.) Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, 37-49. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

The link between production standards, the private sector and a landscape approach

By Gabrielle Kissinger, Lexeme Consulting

Production standards and certification such as FairTrade and Rainforest Alliance coffee, Forest Stewardship Council certified lumber, and others provide a means for manufacturers and consumers to have confidence in how raw materials are produced.

Brewery operated by SABMiller’s Colombian subsidiary, Bavaria, in the Chingaza watershed outside Bogotá. Photo: Rudolf, BogotáYet, production standards alone are insufficient tools to address all production risks, such as biodiversity loss, water scarcity, climate change impacts, labour issues, and community and livelihood needs in surrounding areas, among others.  Companies confronting these risks recognize the impacts on business performance, and are increasingly piloting interventions beyond the ‘production unit,’ through landscape initiatives. Often, this is in conjunction with production standards and certification processes.

In Brazil, a group of smallholders united under the Cooperative Central Association of Family Farmers (COOPAFI), who make their living in mixed farming systems, but are reliant on soy as their main cash crop, obtained certification through the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) in 2013.  This enabled the farmers to attract international buyers such as Unilever and the Body Shop, while at the same time maintaining the native vegetation and biodiversity in regions surrounding their farms. 

To ensure that the soy certification standards were met, relevant partners including the Municipality of Capanema in Paraná, worked with the farmers to ensure continuous land management improvement that met existing Brazilian federal laws and the RTRS standard, zero-tillage systems and reduced agrochemical use, restriction on expansion of soy farms into native forests, and linking the soy to frontrunner companies seeking certified products.  

This is one example of seven in the chapter, “Private sector investment in landscape approaches: the role of production standards and certification,” in the book Climate-smart landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice.  In his foreward to the book, Jeffrey Sayer of James Cook University notes, “The landscape approach considers how interconnected components of the landscape can be managed to reap multiple benefits and balance commercial, social and environmental concerns.”

Private sector investment in and commercial motivation to pursue landscape approaches is not well documented.  Production standards and certification appear to be an important entry point for companies to think beyond their production unit, and consider risks beyond. 

Often, it is pressure from brand manufacturers and consumers that push producers to demonstrate that raw materials were produced sustainably and multiple benefits achieved.  One such example is the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) that seeks to achieve zero net deforestation by 2020. It is comprised of more than 400 retail and brand manufacturers globally, with total combined sales of €2.5 trillion. Unilever aims for 50% of its agricultural raw materials to be sustainably sourced by 2015 and 100% sustainably sourced by 2020.  Similarly, Nestlé, Mars, Tesco, McDonald's, Walmart and other brand manufacturers and retailers have made sustainability purchasing commitments for agricultural products.  

The challenge with production standards is that while some contain criteria and indicators that require producers to go beyond the production unit to demonstrate sustainability, most provide little or no guidance to do so.  Rather, the decision falls on the producer to incorporate better management practices or create partnerships beyond their production unit in order to avert risks.

Nevertheless, the case examples reviewed in the new book chapter demonstrate a willingness by companies and their civil society or government partners to define project parameters that seek integrated landscape management.

While private sector engagement in integrated landscape initiatives appears to be increasing, more assessment of the long-term benefits beyond the production unit and concession-scale is needed and also to determine whether companies stick to the commitments and invest over the long-term. Similarly, there is a need for more evidence of effective coordination between government and private sector actors to support long-term commitment to landscape initiatives. 

More understanding is also needed of how certification bodies are incorporating a landscape lens into criteria and indicators for certification and measuring that performance over landscape spatial and temporal scales.  This is particularly important for fast-expanding commodities such as oil palm, sugarcane, and soy, all of which can place strong pressures on land and water resources. 

Source: This blog is based on Chapter 19: Private sector investment in landscape approaches: the role of production standards and certification of the new book: Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

Citation: Kissinger, G., Moroge, M., & Noponen, M. (2015). Private sector investment in landscape approaches: the role of production standards and certification. In Minang, P.A., van Noordwijk, M., Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (Eds.) Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, 277-293. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)


About the author

Gabrielle has worked for 20 years at the interface between government policy, markets and land use pressures, from local to national and international scales, and with a range of comapnies, investors, major donors and NGOs. Consulting services and research focus on reducing GHG emissions from land-use in the agriculture and forestry sectors, policy and government affairs, innovative financing for sustainable land management and private sector engagement. Learn more

Complex political and economic realities of being REDD ready

Scientists with the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forests Margins at the World Agroforestry Centre have published a special  issue in Climate Policy vol.14, no. 6, that focuses on the Political Economy of Readiness for REDD+, guest edited by Dr Peter Minang and Dr Meine van Noordwijk.  All articles in this special issue are available for free as “open access” publications.

According to the special issue, the process of REDD+ readiness is shaped by a host of complex political and economic factors largely influenced by the national environment, history and circumstances specific to each country.

“The game changes at country level, and the process has to account for complex political and economic realities involving multiple actors, institutions, political and sectoral ideologies that require an iterative, rather than a simple linear, global process,” says Dr Peter Minang, one of the special issue editors.

Read entire blog from Climate Strategies and climate policy journal blog.

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