The Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative (LPFN) held an event that was the perfect celebration of its accomplishments, and ambitions.
140 landscape leader-practitioners, from 16 African countries, along with other international partners of the LPFN, came together in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the African Landscapes Dialogue. Three days of intensive sharing and debate between March 6th and 9th demonstrated the extraordinary progress that has been made to mainstream integrated landscape management since March 2012, when the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative was launched at the Nairobi Forum. This progress was reflected not only in the expanded scale of action on the ground, but also in the diversity of landscape partnerships; the creativity of technical, institutional and market innovations; the levels of public, private and civic funding; and the sophistication and depth of discussion.
The Dialogue saw lively debates among a county governor from Kenya and senior national policymakers in Tanzania, farmer leaders from Malawi and pastoral leaders from Zambia, agribusiness executives, researchers and NGOs active in nutrition, women’s empowerment, and health, as well as agriculture, water and environment. The sweeping variety of sectors and actors identifying as integrated landscape managers was striking. Their commitment to working across sectors and with others inside their landscapes but outside of their comfort zones was also remarkable.
For example, both the Minister of the Environment, Forestry and Climate Change and the State Minister of Agriculture of Ethiopia warmly welcomed the group, not only as gracious hosts, but also as experts on sustainable landscapes. They shared thoughtful and practical insights on the policy challenges and opportunities for ILM in Ethiopia and across Africa. Increasingly, government ministers in Africa and elsewhere are not only aware of but champions for integrated landscape management. What a gift for the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative, which has been striving to generate just such conditions for the past five years!
Evolution of the LPFN
When the LPFN began, agricultural landscape management initiatives had already been proliferating for at least two decades in pockets of innovation, arising from dozens of diverse communities of practices. But there was little international recognition of the approach, and little support or strategy for knowledge-sharing, analysis and collaborative action to improve, scale up and replicate this work.
Tens of thousands of people around the world access ILM resources and research, read success stories, find events, and view landscape partnership profiles on the LPFN website and social media.
EcoAgriculture initially convened the partners, with co-leadership from Bioversity, Conservation International, FAO, ICRAF, IFAD, the Government of the Netherlands, UNEP, and World Resources Institute; later Solidaridad and the World Bank joined the leadership group. Now there are more than 70 strategic partners, mostly international organizations, particularly NGOs, but increasingly from national governments, farmer organizations and the private sector around the world.
We have formed a dynamic global community of practice for ILM, with LPFN partners meeting twice each year in different locations to exchange knowledge and advance collaborative strategies and action plans. And we have accomplished quite a lot:
- Through the LPFN’s Global Review, partners generated more than 30 published studies to take stock of what we collectively know and don’t know about ILM, including detailed scientific surveys of more than 400 integrated landscape initiatives in four continents.
- Tens of thousands of people around the world access ILM resources and research, read success stories, find events, and view landscape partnership profiles on the LPFN website and social media.
- Partners jointly drew international policy attention to the potentials of ILM to achieve the SDGs, food security for all, the Paris climate goals, the Aichi biodiversity targets, Habitat III goals for sustainable cities, Land Degradation Neutrality, and rural transformation.
Over these five years, as LPFN partners have greatly expanded their programs and projects to support ILM, the initiative’s focus has shifted to addressing operational barriers and opportunities for effective implementation:
- The LPFN organized another momentous conference in 2014 in Nairobi, with African leaders, to draft and launch the African Landscapes Action Plan—a blueprint for addressing key barriers to ILM in Africa.
- Dozens of landscape initiatives in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, and Brazil have joined landscape learning networks organized by Initiative partners and the secretariat at EcoAgriculture.
- The LPFN will shortly launch an international Action Agenda on Business for Sustainable Landscapes—for businesses, financiers, governments and landscape programs—the outcome of a 14-month process with inputs from over 40 organizations.
From these and other LPFN activities have emerged the foundations of more effective landscape partnerships across the continent and around the world, as well as enthusiastic demand for another five years of collaborative action through the LPFN.
What’s Next for the LPFN?
The African Landscapes Dialogue opened discussion on the emerging priorities for collaborative action by the LPFN partners, casting a bright light on the path forward for ILM in Africa and around the world. These priorities include: strengthening leadership roles in landscape partnerships for marginalized groups like women, smallholder farmers, and pastoralists; institutionalizing and expanding the national landscape learning networks; developing a formal learning community – the Landscape Academy – specifically for integrated landscape managers; and regular regional knowledge-sharing events to connect national networks for collaborative action. (Look soon for news about the Mesoamerica and African Landscapes Dialogues in 2018.)
The dedication and creativity of the partners of the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative, and EcoAgriculture Partners’ role in convening this rich diversity of partners, have helped move ILM forward dramatically over the past five years.
I returned from Addis Ababa inspired. The dedication and creativity of the partners of the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative, and EcoAgriculture Partners’ role in convening this rich diversity of partners, have helped move ILM forward dramatically over the past five years.
Happy Birthday, LPFN, and congratulations to all the LPFN partners for a remarkable five years.