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Balancing livelihoods, conservation and biodiversity through landscape approaches evaluated at GLF Climate

Meeting competing needs while confronting climate change
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Woman cleaning maize in Ghana. Axel Fassio

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When the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Climate: Frontiers of Change opens this week on the sidelines of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, it will bring a new focus to a burgeoning initiative offering a blueprint for large-scale work to reconcile livelihood, environmental and biodiversity goals — all while confronting climate change.

Early research results are in from applying Integrated Landscape Approaches (ILA) – bringing together stakeholders with varied and often conflicting concerns in a shared landscape — in three countries: Ghana, Indonesia and Zambia.

Members of the COLANDS initiative will explain these findings in addition to outstanding questions and important knowledge gaps, during the GLF conference 5-7 November 2021.

The COLANDS findings can offer lessons for implementing ILAs at large scale, but key to success is recognizing that solutions are complex and must be tailored to the specific landscape – one size won’t fill all, says James Reed, scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and team leader with COLANDS: Collaborating to Operationalize Landscape Approaches for Nature, Development and Sustainability.

“People too often focus on one goal, one objective, and what we’re trying to do is help them understand that there isn’t just one way or one approach….every approach has to have different components,” says Reed. “There has to be a big mix of policies and interventions.”

The core of ILAs involves bringing together parties that share a landscape to figure out how they can work together, says Terry Sunderland, a professor of Tropical Forestry at the University of British Columbia, and a Senior Research Associate at CIFOR. He’s also a member of the COLANDS initiative, which began three years ago.

“By reporting on progress made, in terms of how to bring stakeholders together, how to develop a unified theory of change and negotiate a shared vision for the landscapes,  we can potentially resolve competing land-use challenges and help GLF and other projects to match their rhetoric to the realities,” says Sunderland.

The COLANDS initiative’s priorities align with the three-part theme of the GLF Climate conference, which is looking to mitigate and reduce the impacts of climate change through protection and restoration of forests, transformation of global food systems to end hunger while promoting sustainable production, and expansion of sustainable finance.

To achieve this, the conference will gather the GLF community of 250,000 people from 185 countries who will hear from over 200 speakers, including policymakers, Indigenous leaders, youth activists, politicians, financiers and scientists working to accelerate action to achieve the Paris Agreement’s climate-change goals aimed at limiting global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius.

The GLF conference opens Friday with an initial spotlight on forests, including discussions on international restoration commitments, the role of local communities and Indigenous Peoples, sustainable use of forests, and zero deforestation commitments. The UK, which holds the COP presidency this year, is particularly focused on forests and trees, and as COP26 opened this week, the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use was signed by presidents and prime ministers from countries that are major producers and consumers of deforestation-linked products who committed to protect forest ecosystems.

Day two of the GLF conference highlights food systems’ transformations, centering on the relationship between people and the environments on which they depend. The topic is timely, as rates of global food production are rising, along with rates of hunger and malnutrition.

The final day will focus on finance, with the GLF Climate’s “Investment Case for the Planet” that will take stock of the ongoing debate about sustainable climate and landscape finance and address issues including financing a green and equitable post-COVID recovery.

“Project to Process: Pitfalls and Potential of Implementing Long-term Integrated Landscape Approaches”, the COLANDS session on Saturday, will showcase tools and techniques for implementing integrated approaches in order to more explicitly address issues related to power, gender, equity and conflict.

Speakers will address how to better incorporate gender and social inclusion into landscape approaches, and why measuring multi-dimensional human well-being is important for successful integrated landscape approaches, says Reed.

“But ultimately, it’s also really important to work to protect people’s rights and make sure that justice is at the center of all of these solutions.”

COLANDS is supported by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) and is a CIFOR-led consortium of partners consisting of the University of British Columbia (UBC), the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the French Agricultural

Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), and local and political partners in the countries of implementation.

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This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.
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