In a bid to reduce challenging social and environmental risks, businesses are building partnerships with communities across landscapes in Africa and elsewhere.
From natural resource degradation and climate change impacts to food security and community conflict, companies increasingly recognise that working in landscape partnerships can help them address critical issues that go beyond their immediate operations.
A new report, unveiled today by the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative, finds that while most businesses have a major impact on landscapes, only a quarter of the 428 large multi-stakeholder landscape partnerships documented in a series of four continental surveys in Europe, South and Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa include business partners.
The report, Business for Sustainable Landscapes: An action agenda for sustainable development, outlines an action agenda with concrete steps that business, as well as finance institutions, governments and landscape program leaders, can take to strengthen these partnerships and advance a socio-economic transformation based on sustainable production and economic growth.
Growing recognition of the importance of a landscape approach
“Collaborative landscape approaches align stakeholders in a particular place to resolve complex issues that cannot be successfully resolved by actors working alone,” says Sara Scherr, President of EcoAgriculture Partners and one of the key authors of the report. “These partnerships reflect growing recognition that long-term business success is tied to healthy communities and ecosystems,” she added.
“Although landscapes are still not a natural business environment for most companies, the frontrunners are now starting to grasp the potential, take responsibility beyond their direct interests and seek collaborative solutions to address issues like water scarcity, deforestation or ecosystem services by landscape projects,” says Peter Erik Ywema, Director Strategy and Engagement, SAI Platform.
Innovative financial models are helping businesses get involved
“Innovative financial instruments designed to support landscape investments are emerging, and they have the potential to help drive nature-based solutions, such as forest landscape restoration and climate-smart supply chains,” says Stewart Maginnis, Global Director of IUCN, which co-authored the report. “IUCN’s Regional Forest Landscape Restoration Hub for Eastern and Southern Africa, which was established last year, is an excellent example of how increased coordination at a landscape level can catalyse resources and technical capacity to deliver tangible benefits for communities.”
New investment vehicles are needed to enable landscape partnerships and direct public and private investment to sustaining ecosystems for human well-being, such as investing in natural infrastructure, forest landscape restoration, etc.
The report notes these services include blended finance, impact investment funds, investment screens and standards, investment strategies in sustainable supply chain programs, investment risk mitigation mechanisms, investment coordinators, and business and investment incubators.
The report is a result of an 18-month collaborative process led by EcoAgriculture Partners, IUCN, SAI Platform, and Sustainable Food Lab. More than 40 institutions, including, among others, major multinational food and beverage businesses, international smallholder agricultural and rural development organizations, conservation organizations, and governments, helped shape the action agenda. More about the Business for Sustainable Landscapes program