July 3, 2014

Experts Discuss Strategies for Financing Integrated Landscape Investments in Africa

Isaiah Esipisu

Delegates at the ongoing Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Conference in Nairobi are creating action plans to enable mobilization of resources for integrated landscape management (ILM) in Africa. “This is a priority area, and the issue of finance is very critical for such development aspirations. And before we start planning for anything, we must know where the money is coming from, and what exactly we are targeting to achieve,” said Kwame Awere-Gyekye, the Global Mechanism Program Coordinator at the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). “We don’t want to run halfway into the program and then have it stall because of lack of funds,” he added.

Thus, integrated investments are an important component of ILM in Africa. The four key action plans discussed during a parallel session at the World Agroforestry Centre Complex in Nairobi included bringing an investment mindset into landscapes, mobilization of resources through microfinance institutions and local funding, sourcing support from the public sector and sensitizing communities to embrace investments for landscapes.

Participants in the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature in Africa Conference gather to create action plans. Photo by World Agroforestry Centre.

Participants in the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature in Africa Conference gather to create action plans. Photo by World Agroforestry Centre.

“There is a need for proper structures in place when planning for landscape financing, so that it is not project based,” said Dr Mohamed Bakarr, Senior Environmental Specialist at the Global Environment Facility. “Projects are time bound and when they come to an end, the funding ends there,” he told the conference. The Global Environment Facility, which works with different players to address global environmental issues, is willing to learn how to work with an integrated landscape approach for more sustainable and long-term results.

Seth Shames, Senior Manager of the Policy Program at EcoAgriculture Partners, pointed out that other sources of funding for ILM include increased public investment, foreign direct investment, impact investment, payments for ecosystem services, climate finance and conditional loans. In order to move swiftly, Shames noted that there is a need to directly involve national policymakers working across sectors,  as well as the Global Environment Facility and other donors playing a leading role in encouraging multi-objective investments.

According Awere-Gyekye, the priority for integrated landscape management will be management of natural resources with a focus on agriculture, forestry programs, poverty alleviation programs among others. The funds will also be used to facilitate community and stakeholder involvement.

Isaiah Esipisu is a freelance journalist specializing in agriculture and climate change reporting.
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