DG’s Column

Landscapes approach strengthens all sectors

CIFOR’s Director General challenges participants to "think big" at the Global Landscape Forum in Lima.
“We need to connect the large-capital funds with the needs of the small producers for investments in land-use.”

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A transcript of CIFOR Director General Peter Holmgren’s speech at the Global Landscape Forum in Lima:

It’s amazing, the interest in and contributions from so many partners to this forum. We really need to think hard about where we go from here.

I would start by saying that this year we really need to focus on the how. Last year it was pretty much about the what. What is this? Why are we here? Why should we start working together?

We figured out it’s a good idea, but now we need to dig in and figure out what’s the how? And why do we believe in the landscape approach in the first place? I think the answer is simply that all of us agree—and if somebody doesn’t please raise your hand—that healthy landscapes are necessary for delivering both on the climate challenge, and on all aspects of sustainable development.

This is a pretty big chunk of the solutions we’re talking about, and I challenge you today to think big. Think about the big picture here. It is the planet; it’s all the landscapes. This is a prime forum for debating how we can find those integrated solutions. We must see the scaling up. We must not be satisfied with individual case studies or piecemeal approaches. And I challenge you to do that in this year’s forum.

Also, of course, as Rachel [Kyte] pointed out, it’s urgent. We need to work fast, and we need to be committed to move forward.

For too long we have been stuck in sectorial priority settings. Now we have the chance to change that—across forestry, agriculture, smallholders, the corporate sector and the finance sector. It’s a lot to do.

From CIFOR, of course, we come from the forestry perspective. We look at the many contributions that forestry as a sector can make across these agendas. We’ve always worked across sectors and looked at forests in context. And that has naturally led us to the landscape thinking. And the point here is that working together at the landscape level strengthens forestry. Sometimes we hear the opposite from critics, but I think that we should all take this perspective. Whatever sector we represent, a landscapes approach strengthens what we are trying to achieve.

Working together at the landscape level strengthens forestry

Peter Holmgren

I have three points to make. The first one has to do with human rights and security. These are prerequisites for the landscapes approach. Landscapes are essentially about negotiating priorities, and figuring out integrated actions. But there is not much point in suggesting such approaches if the landscape stakeholders still die fighting for their rights to advance these priorities.

Further of course we have equity, health issues, food security, and gender that are aspects that overlay the landscape ambitions. There is a bigger picture as well on the agenda side.

Secondly, finance. Finance for sustainable land use must evolve. Many of the priorities for the landscapes go beyond economic return as such. But it’s clear that the finance sector must step up if we are serious about the landscape approach, and if we are serious about scaling up. I’m sorry to say it, but the Green Climate Fund will not do the trick. It will be very helpful, it will commit politics, but that will not be enough.

It's clear that the finance sector must step up if we are serious 

Peter Holmgren

We need to connect the large-capital funds with the needs of the small producers for investments in land-use. We need to talk trillions, not billions. We need to simplify. We need to pave the way through smart sustainability indicators, lower transaction costs, and improve risk-management. Finance is a big challenge.

Now my third point, and my last point. Knowledge sharing has to improve. In science, we have many papers related to landscape management. And let’s face it—it’s not a new concept. We’ve worked on it for decades, maybe even centuries. There’s a lot of work done here, and there aren’t that many different ways to cut the cake. A lot of success is reported, but again, in a very piecemeal way. It makes it difficult to think about scaling up.

At CIFOR, we have this year systematically searched for the evidence across approximately 13,000 papers, and we have found 47 cases where a landscape approach is applied in practice. We know that there is much more out there, but the knowledge is not shared sufficiently. We need to improve that.

So in conclusion, there is urgency about scaling up. And whether we talk about rights, finance, or research for landscapes, we must not be afraid to think big—very big. Thank you.


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Topic(s) :   Community forestry Landscapes