Robert Nasi (Left), director general of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), and Brazilian indigenous leader Marcos Terena (Right). GLF/Pilar Valbuena

Global Landscapes Forum becomes year-round sustainable development movement

Developing the landscape approach for a sustainable future

BONN, Germany (Landscape News) — The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) is now a year-round platform bringing together governments, researchers, non-profit organizations, the private sector and civil society to form a movement to push for sustainable development.

The city of Bonn, Germany, known as an international hub and for its extensive U.N. Campus, is now host city for the GLF secretariat headquarters as well as an annual conference event.

“We needed a place where we can have a frank dialogue,” said Robert Nasi, director general of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), which coordinates the GLF, at a press conference on Tuesday during the GLF re-launch event on Dec. 19-20. “It is not always easy to go beyond the politically correct.”

Nasi presented the next five-year phase of the GLF, which the German government has supported with 11 million euros ($13 million), and with representatives from each of the partner organizations: Barbara Hendricks, Federal German Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMU­B); Erik Solheim, executive director at U.N. Environment program (UNEP); Karin Kemper, senior director for the environment and natural resources global practice at the World Bank, and Stefan Schmitz, deputy director general, Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany.

Nasi highlighted the GLF’s major transition from annual event to a year-round platform based on the landscape approach -– an integrated approach to managing land that champions a balance between environmental and economic development objectives.

Among the priorities of the GLF are building capacities and evidence on the landscape approach to inform policies and practices; sparking cross-sectoral dialogue from the local to the international scale; and, ultimately, creating a global movement of 1,000 million people around landscapes that work for people and the planet.

The landscape approach helps to combat climate change and desertification, meaning it can create good synergies with the U.N. institutions here in Bonn,” Hendricks said. Both the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Secretariat of the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) are headquartered in Bonn.

“There are very few approaches with which one can achieve so many things at the same time, as is the case with the landscape approach: responding to climate change, conserving biodiversity and fighting pollution,” Solheim said.

Solheim mentioned the need to engage the private sector, including financial institutions, insurance companies and wealth funds, and to “think much bigger in order to succeed.” “We cannot just have small projects and programs,” he said.

Kemper pointed out that the sustainable landscape movement will not only help advance the environmental agenda, but also the development agenda – including that of her institution.

At the World Bank we have twin goals: eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and fostering shared prosperity. Sustainable landscapes are key to advancing both of them.”

Schmitz from BMZ also highlighted the potential benefits of the landscape approach on livelihoods, especially in view of the fact that around 70 percent of the world’s undernourished are in rural areas. From his perspective, the term “landscape” encapsulates the interconnectedness of all elements on the planet.

According to the GLF, sustainable landscapes are crucial on multiple fronts: from food, energy and water, to livelihoods, climate regulation and biodiversity, to business development and renewable materials. This is why the new phase of the GLF will put a strong focus on communities and local realities.

“Addressing landscape issues is not optional,” said president of Mauritius and keynote speaker Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, who joined GLF partners at the conference.

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