May 1, 2013

Taking Care of Business: Landscape Approaches to Reduce Risk

From beer brewing in Bogota to mochas in Mexico, for the past few weeks the Landscapes Blog has covered the role of landscape approaches in business operations and supply chains, in light of the Landscapes Initiative’s release of Reducing Risk: Landscape Approaches to Sustainable Sourcing. Across the cases reviewed in this project, this theme of understanding and accounting for risks pervaded. Agribusinesses have recognized the urgent concerns around water, climate, the communities in which they operate, and the direct reliance on natural resources and ecosystem services for efficient and effective business performance. According to the findings of the study, these factors serve as primary motivations for giving landscape approaches a shot.

This diagram, from Reducing Risk, shows the area surrounding SAB MIller's brewery outside of Bogota, Colombia, and highlights the aspects of a landscape approach employed their to minimize risk to the business. Graphic by Louis Wertz, EcoAgriculture Partners.

The area surrounding SAB Miller’s brewery outside of Bogota, Colombia, highlighting the aspects of a landscape approach employed there to minimize risk to the business, increase farmer livelihoods, and improve ecosystem service delivery to the city. Graphic by EcoAgriculture Partners.

Sharing risk, distributing the impacts across a breadth of stakeholders, is one of the ways in which businesses benefit from landscape principles. From the final synthesis of the study, it was also clear that assessing risks at a scale beyond the farm level, and incorporating those risks (and the investments necessary to mitigate them) into business plans, is critical for sustainable business operations. Pathways for businesses to introduce landscape approaches included: 1) companies introduce landscape approaches through their own supply chain interventions; 2) companies join multi-stakholder platforms (e.g. commodity roundtables); and 3) producer level interventions bring in landscape approach elements.

As the case studies the past few weeks have emphasized, incorporating sustainability principles within agricultural supply chains is rapidly being recognized as good for people, food, and nature. Nestlé, one of the contributors to the project, has internalized some of the landscape principles and committed itself to “Creating Shared Value” for its stakeholders and society in the areas of nutrition, water, and rural development.  In the latest iteration of the “Nestlé in Society” report, published earlier this year, Nestlé laid out 30 goals in the areas of nutrition, water, rural development, and sustainability that represent an amibition to work collectively with a multitude of stakeholders in order to create social good while contributing to its bottom line. For Nestlé and others, understanding how the long term financial prosperity is intertwined with the well being of communities and the environment is gain traction and increasing in importance. Who knows what the future may hold, but the forecast looks pretty good for landscapes.

Read the report for recommendations and avenues for businesses to apply and grow landscape approaches.

1 Comment

  • Julien Custot - FAO - Food for the Cities facilitator
    May 2, 2013 at 3:36am

    Urban-rural linkages are a strong component to take into account in the landscape approach:
    – much of the people or activites exposed to risk are in these peri-urban areas,
    – actions to reduce risk will often have to be implemented in the urban fringes, especially watershed management.
    Many stakeholders (public or private) have activities in various component of the food system, from agriculture production to food consumption. They can therefore have an active role in strengthening the urban-rural linkages.