africa

Twenty years of ASB Partnership

By Elizabeth Kahurani

At the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, two recommendations made under agenda 21 to combat deforestation are of significance to the genesis of the ASB Partnership.

Here, the global community agreed to develop policies and gather efforts that would support actions to:

  1. “Limit and aim to halt destructive shifting cultivation by addressing the underlying social and ecological causes ”.
  2. “Reduce damage to forests by promoting sustainable management of areas adjacent to the forests”.

This international policy framework gave impetus to an ongoing process within the then Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) of initiating a system-wide programme on Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn (ASB) agriculture, an idea forged at the 1990 CGIAR International Science Week.

The idea developed and process continued through 1991-1993 and involved workshop discussions on feasibility of a “global, coordinated effort on ASB agriculture in tropical rainforest areas.” This was followed by discussion papers on methodological guidelines on site characterization used to determine and identify appropriate locations for the ASB benchmark sites. Initial donor support for this groundwork was through UNDP.

ASB was formally endorsed as one of the first system-wide programmes of the CGIAR in March 1994 and Phase 1 of the alternative to slash and burn project commenced. The programme was governed by a Global Steering Group comprised of representatives from twelve (12) international research institutes mainly from the CGIAR. Beyond the governance group, ASB comprised of 40 other partners spread across the tropical humid belt. Phase I of the programme was implemented through four thematic groups with support from GEF.

The book Slash and Burn Agriculture: Search for Alternatives covers the first decade of ASB work and explains that the programmeThe ASB Global Coordination Office staff together with the Global Steering Group, the main policy and decision-making body whose primary role is to provide overall governance and guidance to the ASB Partnershipprovided “rigorous science, new conceptual and empirical tools, and thoughtful policy analysis” that contributed to “identifying more sustainable land use practices and enabling policies that help conserve environmental functions of the tropical forest margins while increasing household income and food security for millions of poor people.”

Among key successes in the early years of the program include a research framework that established the basis for integrated natural resource management research of the CGIAR centers, the ASB matrix and tradeoff analysis that was taken up in government programs as a way to tackle complex problems and reconcile the interests of different stakeholders (see ASB Policy Brief 05). In addition, the program spearheaded the Tropical Forest Margins sub-global assessment (SGA), the first crosscutting SGA in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA).

“ASB has also shown how the disciplinary strengths in climate change, biodiversity, agronomy, policy reform, and adoption can be used in a balanced and positive way, with combined, mutually accepted standard methods.”

To celebrate its achievements, ASB received the CGIAR Science Award for Outstanding Partnership for its contribution towards “developing more environment-friendly farming techniques and slowing deforestation.”

Alternatives to Slash and Burn evolves into ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins

Since 2008, the program has rebranded from Alternatives to Slash-and –Burn to ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins and is no longer a system wide program of the CGIAR.

It is a global partnership that includes non-CGIAR partners such as National Agricultural Research Institutes and International Research Institutes with work both in and outside the CGIAR system.  However, ASB still aligns its research to contribute to and partners strongly with CGIAR institutions.

The scope of work and research mandate has also widened from reducing the threat of slash-and-burn farming systems to the world’s humid tropical forests and exploring viable and profitable land use alternatives for smallholder farmers to reducing emissions from land use change, including forestry, agriculture, while ensuring viable livelihoods and enhancing social and environmental co-benefits.

About 1000 publications have been produced under the auspices of ASB to date. This includes 300 refereed journal articles, 25 books, 100 book chapters and more than 50 policy briefs. In 2005, the External Programme review panel for ASB found that ASB publications have been well cited by specialists and relevant policy documents globally (Clarke et al 2005). Table 1.1 highlights key ASB publications.

Tools, methodologies, guidelines and resources that have seen the most number of downloads from the website and have been used to train relevant stakeholders including national government officials to date include:

Stay tuned on our anniversary events here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agroforestry Landscapes contributing to the Future we Want

By Paul Stapleton and Meine vanNoordwijk

The Rio+20 meetings started a process for the world to articulate the future we want through a set of Sustainable Development Goals. Landscapes with forests, trees and agroforestry will be central to achieving many of these goals. As part of its annual Science Week, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)  is staging the Nairobi Landscape Day at its headquarters on Friday 13 September 2013.

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) has been working at the landscape level for many years and has accumulated a depth of knowledge and expertise in the approachLandscapes combine 1) people and their ambitions and livelihoods, 2) land use systems with and without trees, 3) patterns of tree cover in space and time, interacting with the topography, soils, climate, water flows, flora and fauna, 4) ecosystem services, or the benefits humans derive from functioning (agro)ecosystems, 5) stakeholders who care about what happens with the services and the underlying natural and social capital, 6) governance mechanisms by which stakeholders can influence, in positive or negative ways, what people do. This completes the circle, or logical loop, leading to overall degradation (in many of our landscapes), restoration or gradual improvement. The future earth we want will have zero (net) degradation, as one of the proposed sustainable development goals articulates. A large new scientific effort coordinated by all academies of science in the world is now zooming in on this FuturEarth concept.

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) has been working at the landscape level for many years and has accumulated a depth of knowledge and expertise in the approach. Nairobi Landscape Day will have four events: an eye-opening lecture on future earth, sustainable development goal, agroforestry and experience with landscape approaches so far; a virtual fieldtrip around the world, visiting live examples of how people and landscapes  interact across the 6 aspects;  an open house, where we show our various approaches to landscapes; a discussion panel on the demand for and supply of scientific analysis to support these feedback loops.

ICRAF scientists Cheikh Mbow, Sara Namirembe and Peter Minang will talk about “Agroforestry Landscapes, Sustainable Development Goals and the Future Earth We Want.”

In 2015 world leaders will take stock of the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and will see evidence that concrete targets that have the support of the global policy community can actually help in reducing poverty. However, the MDG on sustainable development will have little progress to show. In anticipation of this discussion, a UN-lead process has started to come up with a set of Sustainable Development Goals that build on the MDGs but give more operational clarity on the environmental side. Current drafts of the goals suggest that agroforestry can be relevant in meeting many of these SDGs. The lecture will introduce the Future Earth initiative, give an update on the development of the SDGs and start a discussion how agroforestry at large and ICRAF specifically can best participate.

After the lecture, participants will be taken on a virtual tour of the landscapes in Asia, Africa and Latin America where ICRAF works on integrated approaches. Since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, we have become increasingly aware of the wide range of ecosystem services derived from landscapes. These include things like clean water, flood, droughts and soil erosion control, land and biodiversity conservation, in addition to agricultural and forest production. This session will answer the questions: Who is involved in farming, cutting and planting trees? What benefits do farmers get from trees, agroforestry practices and agroforestry land use? Which trees are where in the landscape? How do trees contribute to ecosystem services? Who cares and is a stakeholder of positive or negative change in landscape performance? How can stakeholders influence and have average on the drivers of change to which farmers respond?

A key feature of the landscape approach is that it integrates land and soil , agriculture, forests, trees, people, animals and water rather than treating them separately.  The landscape approach embraces these various landscape functions and seeks to manage land at the range of scales necessary to ensure sustainable development. After the tour, a summary will be given of the tools and approaches that have been developed during Science Week for integrated approaches, welcoming partners to share their work related to the landscape.

Adopting a landscape approach will have a range of impacts, such as preserving forests, raising the number of useful trees in the landscape, increasing agricultural production and food security, restoring degraded land and halting further land degradation and desertification, conserving biodiversity, contributing to poverty eradication, mitigating the effects of climate change and promoting a greener economy. The mix of these outcomes will vary according to context and local needs and aspirations.

As an essential part of the Day’s activities, there will be a panel discussion on the demand for scientific agroforestry knowledge for sustainable development goals, and the supply of such knowledge by the CGIAR and Future Earth academic science, chaired by ICRAF Deputy Director General, Research, Dr. Ravi Prabhu.

This should highlight ways to meet development challenges that do not jeopardize how future generations will be able to derive benefits from the products and services of the landscapes that support us today.

 Venue:      ICRAF Conference Hall                             

Day:          Friday 13th September, 2013

Time:        08:30 – 17:30hrs

Please plan to attend and distribute widely.  For further details on the event, contact Stella Muasya at s.muasya@cgiar.org  or Elizabeth Kahurani e.kahurani@cgiar.org

Can REDD+, PES and other payments prevent destruction and degradation of our ecosystems?

By Elizabeth Kahurani

Markets can only be a part of the solution to reversing unacceptable levels of deforestation and forest degradation, according to research from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). “Looking at the whole system and all available options remains the only guarantee, and this means taking a landscape perspective,” according to Dr Ravi Prabhu, Director of Research at ICRAF, who was speaking at a side event of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn on June 5th 2013.Dr Ravi Prabhu (left), Director of Research at ICRAF, with other panelists at a side event of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn on June 5th 2013

Dr Ravi defined a landscape as a mosaic of agriculture, forests, plantations with competitions, trade-offs and synergies between land uses. At this level, there are also multiple sectors, stakeholders and practices. Given that the system is so dynamic, he pointed to multifunctional co-investment mechanisms as necessary means of embracing local people, private and public sectors, PES bundling and stacking as options.

In other words, success was more likely if the needs and interests of all the actors who mattered were taken into account and a framework was set up to allow them to jointly invest finances, time and resources in the landscape in order to derive the values they were looking for. Although this would involve compromises and negotiation, a more diverse and therefore resilient system was likely to result.

The event, hosted by the Global Forest Coalition (GFC), focused discussions on a report on non-market based approaches to reducing deforestation and forest degradation submitted to SBSTA by GFC.

According to the report, indigenous communities have always preserved and protected their forests not just for the economic value they derive from them but also for important cultural and spiritual functions. According to the report, there is evidence to show that areas protected by communities are more likely to survive deforestation and negative environment extractions as opposed to areas protected through other means of control such as government bans. As such, empowering communities to manage their forests remains the best option from efforts to protect the ecosystem while promoting livelihoods. But how?

Debates and negotiations have centered on market approaches such as Payment for Environmental Services (PES) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). Essentially these approaches are based on a financial compensation to forest users for the opportunity costs of more ‘destructive’ land-use forms based on a market price for the goods in question, e.g. water or tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Simone Lovera, Executive Director of Global Forest Coalition warns that approaches based on such market mechanisms should be approached with caution as they could present a higher risk to communities particularly with regard to efficiency and equity. Besides, she argues, political and financial commitments do not match these policy frameworks. “For instance, so far, the carbon market has only realized less than 1% of the anticipated REDD+ funding. Financial constraints therefore bring in the issue of who receives funding, who is going to be paid for what and more often than not it is not the individual households that benefit,” said Simone while speaking at the UNFCCC side event.

She noted that there is need to pay attention to non-market based approaches that ensure recognition and territorial rights of the indigenous people and local communities. These should empower communities by also promoting local knowledge and information systems as well as policies for legal and financial support on land reforms, sustainable agriculture and that discourage destructive activities like logging. “Such means of empowering communities to protect their environment ensures sustainability as they do not rely on unpredictable and uncertain funding flows,” said Simone.

A landscape approach takes into account needs and interests of all the actors who matter especially local communitiesPresenting evidence from ICRAF’s work on environmental services, Dr Ravi used results from research sites in Southeast Asia and Africa to explain some of the PES related challenges especially on issues to do with equity and efficiency (see presentation on Slideshare). He emphasized the need for a comprehensive systematic approach, one that can leverage on best options available from various approaches and deliver on securing livelihoods for communities and ecosystem services. “Looking at the whole system is the only guarantee, and this means having a landscape perspective,” explained Ravi. He emphasized that a market price or opportunity costs based approach generally underestimated the full value of the forests, focused as they were on a particular good or service.

He concluded with the message that agroforestry systems can deliver both market and non-market benefits in ways that empower local communities to ensure sustainability.

Read about our work on Landscape approaches to REDD+

Adopt context specific solutions to deforestation, UN climate meeting told

By Josephine Njoroge, edited by Elizabeth Kahurani

Ahead of tomorrow`s Forest Day 6 discussion forum on drivers of deforestation hosted by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Dr Peter Minang’, a Senior Scientist and Global Coordinator of the ASB Partnership  said that causes of deforestation are unique to regions and that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to ending the problem. “For instance, in Latin America, forests are lost due to establishment of cattle ranches while in Africa, smallholder farmers continue to engage in shifting cultivation. There is also a widespread trend to establish vast industrial plantations for oil palms in Asia and in other parts of the world,” Peter explained with caution that history is a poor predictor of future drivers of deforestation.

Challenges and Prospects for REDD+ in Africa

Done right, REDD+ can bring some attractive benefits to developing countries, including finances that can be applied to various areas of development.

According to Dr. Cheikh Mbow, however, poorly implemented REDD+ initiatives could negatively impact the livelihoods of the very communities it was designed to benefit, particularly rural people who depend on forest resources. Mbow is a senior climate change scientist with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and lead author of the recent new report titled ‘Challenges and Prospects for REDD+ in Africa: Desk Review Of REDD+ Implementation in Africa.” The report sought to synthesize the ever-growing number of REDD+ activities under implementation in Africa, including the actors, objectives, means of execution, and outcomes.

“Within the African context, a range of deforestation pressures, financial resources, technical capacity and a diverse array of interest groups present challenges to REDD+ implementation,” he adds. Read more

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