Climate-smart landscapes are an emerging concept that captures integration
of actions and processes in a Participatory community meeting, Niger. Photo credit:Mahamane Larwanougiven place. This integration is geared towards
reducing emissions and enhancing ability to cope with already existing negative
effects of climate change while at the same time pursuing multiple social,
economic and environmental objectives.
In the past, integrated management initiatives have shared similar
ambition and provide lessons for implementation.
In a chapter of a new book titled Climate-Smart
Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, we study the example of gestion de terroirs (GT), which was an
integrated management approach applied in French speaking African countries in
The GT approach was meant to advance goals
related to food production, ecosystem conservation and rural livelihoods on a
socially and geographically defined space – the so-called ‘terroir’. It shared a
number of similar features with climate-smart landscapes in terms of being a multisectoral,
multidisciplinary and multistakeholder approach.
A number of key limitations, challenges and
experiences from the GT approach offer lessons for the climate-smart landscape
One limitation of the GT approach was that the
geographical area was identified almost exclusively in relation with the practice
of agriculture, ignoring other important livelihoods such as pastoralism. A key
lesson here is that it should not be assumed that community interests are
uniform at the expense of complex social, economic and cultural factors that affect
how local communities can sustainably use natural resources.
Both the GT and climate-smart landscapes approaches
use a bottom-up management style and are community-driven, so multi-stakeholder
planning is a key element. However, experiences with the GT implementation have
at times not achieved proper balance in participation between the local communities,
project staff and government agency representatives, with local communities being
overlooked in technical debates. Another weakness was lack of balance of
interests among stakeholders in the local community due as GT committees seemed
to be dominated by local elites to the exclusion of the poorest and most
marginalized rural populations. According to the study, in order to avoid such
pitfalls, both composition and method of inclusion need to be considered with caution
to ensure effective representation of all stakeholder groups.
Additionally, effective decentralized
governance over land resources is described as a central feature of the GT approach.
However, since the legislation never conferred legal right to community-based
institutions to exercise public authority over their resources, there has been
a huge gap between theory and the reality. As such, if decentralized governance
is to happen within climate-smart landscape approaches, there will first need
to be clear policies outlining who has the authority to make decisions on resources
as well as more reflection on how to transfer authority from central government
authorities to local government staff, and from government structures to local
Another issue that GT implementation shed light
on, was that attempts for clarifying rights and resource tenure have sometimes
exacerbated existing or latent land-use conflicts, the concept of ‘terroir’ being
sometimes misinterpreted as ‘for locals only’ and instrumentalized to exclude
others in the name of local heritage. To avoid this challenge, there is need
for very carefully negotiated processes and a legitimate conflict resolution and
recourse system that is supported by an improved justice system, accessible courts,
and devolved conciliation powers to local authorities or customary chiefs.
Last but not least, while most GT programmes
took place in a policy and institutional vacuum resulting in very limited
impact on influencing wider institutional and policy issues, there is need for
acknowledging climate-smart landscape approaches within national decision-making
processes. Sustainability of the climate-smart landscape approach will require
supportive policies at multiple scales.
The study is a book chapter in a book titled Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality
in Practice which can be accessed here.
Bernard, F. (2015). What can climate-smart agricultural landscapes learn
from the gestion de terroirs approach? In Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M.,
Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (Eds.)
Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, 51-61. Nairobi,
Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).