Implementing Sustainable Landscapes

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Sustainable landscape management is a global and local necessity. But few are being effectively managed to balance the competing demands of today, let alone those likely to emerge tomorrow. This leaves billions of people and many tropical economies at risk.

The significant role of forests in meeting development and climate change mitigation targets, enshrined in the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, underlines the immediate requirement for innovative, replicable and robust financial instruments to reduce, end and reverse deforestation in tropical nations, whilst sustainably increasing agricultural production.

In addition to nationally determined GHG emission reductions targets, some sub-national governments are starting to construct jurisdictional climate and forest targets. A jurisdictional scale approach allows for a swifter transition between commitment and action due to reduced area and complexity in comparison to a national emissions and forests policy, argues the TFA. Additionally, this method allows for a more integrated response to competing land-use claims than single-commodity sustainability initiatives.

The increasing prominence of this approach is reflected in the growth of funds specifically for jurisdictional policy-making, with over $1bn now being invested in projects at this scale by a range of organisations. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, jurisdictional-scale management currently being trialled in an area the size of Greece ‘will not only reduce the pressure on forest resources in the province, but also, most importantly, improve the livelihoods of the population’ in the region.

Public-private partnerships are crucial for the acceleration of climate-positive jurisdictional land use. Close relationships between the public and private sectors allow for superior stakeholder engagement, technical support and coordination as well as the sharing of risk, and will unlock private investment on a transformative scale.

The Global Canopy Programme’s Unlocking Forest Finance (UFF) Partnership, part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI), works with a diverse range of global and local partners in the public and private sectors. The team have developed a replicable framework for three jurisdictions, namely San Martin in Peru and Acre and Mato Grosso in Brazil. The main focus of the project is to facilitate a rapid transition to the sustainable production of a number of agricultural commodities, thereby reducing carbon emissions, conserving forests and their associated ecosystem services and improving the livelihoods of indigenous people and local communities.

The business case for sustainable transitions in these jurisdictions has been proven by outlining the financial benefits of improved land use planning and options for increasing productivity. The frameworks produced provide clear plans and actions for governments, risk mitigation and income potential for investors, in addition to improvements in productivity and social conditions for local communities. 

In San Martin, Peru the project team are piloting this approach following comprehensive consultations with a wide range of local, regional and national organisations, and discussions with international investors. The innovative financial structure provides credit guarantees and blends public and private investment, whilst leveraging climate finance and ensuring ESG safeguards in a pilot project to be implemented in 2017 with a major Peruvian agrarian bank.

The aim of the investments is to sustainably increase productivity in seven supply chains, support conservation in four protected areas and contribute to a sustainable livelihood plan for three local communities.

The benefits are likely to be significant. In the cacao supply chain, for example, UFF would support 12,650 small farmers with training and management systems over 10 years. Productivity in San Martin is projected to increase from 750 kilograms per hectare to 2,200 kilograms per hectare through the implementation of agroforestry. This would generate over 6,500 new jobs and an additional income of $21m from cacao. Agroforestry also provides further benefits to local ecosystem services, including reduced reliance on fertilisers and increased soil fertility.

From transforming supply chains in Peru, to addressing issues around water and climate change in Lesotho, and reducing forest loss in Brazil, jurisdictional scale approaches are increasingly occupying a central position in sustainable development and climate change mitigation.There are still steps to be taken, not least the resolution of competing land-use demands, the integration of sub-national objectives with national and international targets and coherent cross-sectoral agenda-setting. The TFA 2020 NYC Climate Week event offers a timely opportunity to take these steps together.

This GCP-authored blog originally appeared on the TFA 2020 website.