This March marked the five year anniversary of the founding of the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative.
To celebrate, we took a look back at the first five years of this ambitious international collaboration. The achievements have us very excited for what’s planned for the next five years.
A Global Review of the state of integrated landscape management
During the first three years of the Initiative, catalytic funding from the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Norway, and the Government of the Netherlands, along with many contributions from partner organizations, supported the development of dozens of key studies, meta-analyses, and synthetic reports that identified and explored solutions to the major challenges facing those who would manage agricultural landscapes holistically. Influential studies published by the Initiative included:
- Reducing Risk: Landscape Approaches to Sustainable Sourcing
- City Regions as Landscapes for People, Food and Nature
- Financing Strategies for Integrated Landscape Investment
- Toward Viable Landscape Governance Systems: What Works?
- Managing for Resilience: Framing an integrated landscape approach for overcoming chronic and acute food insecurity
- Scaling Up Investment & Finance for Integrated Landscape Management: Challenges and innovations
- Landscape Partnerships for Sustainable Development: Achieving the SDGs through Integrated Landscape Management
- Public Policy Guidelines for Integrated Landscape Management
A number of other peer-reviewed studies were devised within Initiative working groups and supported by the Initiative and its partners. Highlights include:
- Climate-Smart Landscapes: Opportunities and challenges for integrating adaptation and mitigation in tropical agriculture – published in Conservation Letters
- Multi-functional landscapes from the grassroots? The role of rural producer movements – published in Agriculture and Human Values
- Participatory Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation of Multi-Stakeholder Platforms in Integrated Landscape Initiatives – published in Environmental Management
In particular, small consortia of researchers from Initiative partner organizations led a series of studies we collectively call the “Continental Reviews.” These studies used a standardized survey methodology to identify and analyze the state of integrated landscape initiatives on the ground across Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia, and Europe. Thousands of agriculture and conservation efforts were scrutinized using screening criteria to identify “true” integrated landscape initiatives. 420 initiatives in total across the four studies satisfied the screening criteria and participated in detailed surveys to assess their motivations, investments, challenges, and impacts. The data paints, for the first time, a coherent portrait of the integrated landscape initiative, and provides the basis for all our efforts, from the grassroots to the global, to strengthen, improve and replicate them.
- Integrated Landscape Initiatives for African Agriculture, Development, and Conservation – published in World Development
- Integrated landscape management for agriculture, rural livelihoods, and ecosystem conservation: An assessment of experience from Latin America and the Caribbean – published in Landscape and Urban Planning
- Integrated landscape initiatives in Europe: Multi-sector collaboration in multi-functional landscapes – published in Land Use Policy
- The Asia study is still under peer review. You can read about the research in this blog from Bioversity International researcher Chandni Singh.
In all, the Initiative has published or supported the peer-review publication of more than 70 reports, articles, case studies, manuals, and briefs over the past 5 years.
An online knowledge-sharing community
Speaking of blog posts, the Blog for People, Food and Nature published more than 675 posts, an average of one every 2.7 days, over the first five years of the Initiative. These stories covered everything from the latest research by Initiative partners (remember, the Initiative has more than 75 institutional partners from around the world), stories from field work or project implementation, critical thinking from some of the world’s leading agriculture and conservation experts, and updates on new tools, events or initiatives supporting landscape management.
The Initiative’s website received more than 32,000 unique visitors each year. These visitors spent an average of 2.5 minutes on the website, and downloaded over 100,000 copies of reports, manuals, or tools to advance integrated landscape management.
Events that mattered
Meanwhile, we also delivered important conferences, trainings, and side events that reached thousands of burgeoning leaders in landscape management. Rather than focus on large format, low-impact conferences, we invested in gathering small groups of leading actors in landscape management and converting and empowering each to become a full-on champion of the approach.
These meetings generated highly impactful outcomes: in 2014 a group of nearly 200 leaders from across Africa met in Nairobi and produced the African Landscapes Action Plan, which was immediately supported by the Government of the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, and later endorsed by the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) as a pillar of its sustainable development strategy. In 2016, meanwhile, we brought leaders from agribusiness, sustainability and international finance together to produce an international action agenda on business for sustainable landscapes that will be published this year.
National landscape learning networks, a model we’re growing
Thanks to support from the Government of Norway from 2012-2015, the Initiative launched and supported face-to-face knowledge sharing activities in three highly successful national landscape learning networks, in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. These networks provided a platform for a variety of exciting work. In Kenya a national landscape policy consultation between national policymakers and landscape-level officials was organized. In Ethiopia, collaborative research projects are emerging. In Tanzania, landscape initiatives dramatically improved their engagement with agribusiness. In 2017, thanks to commitments from Initiative co-organizer Solidaridad and the Mitsubishi Foundation, we are expanding and adapting this model into several Central American countries and Brazil.
The Initiative is also seeking to combine the success of our in-person landscape learning and online knowledge-sharing platform to pioneer hybrid online-offline landscape learning curricula for ILM practitioners. We are preparing a new learning platform, called the Landscape Academy, for capacity-development of conservation, agriculture and development practitioners. Stay tuned throughout 2017 for an array of opportunities to connect to the Academy.
Further growth, accompanied by regional knowledge-sharing dialogues like the 2017 African Landscapes Dialogue, will connect the increasing number of on-the-ground landscape initiatives of Initiative partners with each other, helping to rapidly scale up best practice and coordinate and catalyze collective action for policy and finance change.
The Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative represents the collective vision of more than 75 agriculture, conservation and development organizations for a future built on sustainable landscapes. With continuing support for the secretariat in Washington, D.C. and for our joint work program, we are confident that our model of collaborative research, action and advocacy can transform business-as-usual into integrated landscape management.
Email Melissa Thaxton, the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative’s partnership coordinator, to get involved.