The Global Landscapes Forum, a two-day event held on the sidelines of the UN climate change negotiations as part of the Conference of the Parties (COP19) in Warsaw on 16-17 November 2013, was attended by over 1,200 experts on landscapes, agriculture and forestry.
The Forum was designed to inform the global climate and development frameworks —specifically the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN General Assembly (UNGA) — about the opportunities of a “landscape approach” to development.
Actions are not only needed by the inter-governmental processes but also by legislators, non-government organizations, the scientific community and the private sector, who are all encouraged to consider the recommendations from the Forum.
A landscape comprises an area of land and the people depending on or relating to it. This includes mountains, hills, rivers, lakes, living plants and animals; and human elements including farms, houses, roads, mines, structures and institutions, and their cultural and spiritual values.
There is a long history of segregating landscapes by sector, leading to fragmented and isolated management decisions. As a result we see many examples of unsustainable land use, leading to huge greenhouse gas emissions, loss of ecosystem services and unnecessary risks for livelihoods and food production.
A landscape approach seeks to better understand and recognize the interconnections between different land uses and different stakeholders by integrating them into a joint management process. This provides the opportunity to better handle trade-offs and realize synergies in the landscape.
We recognize that land use may become an important element of the post-2020 climate agreement. UNFCCC negotiators are seeking ways to link elements on Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF), REDD+, agriculture and other land uses.
We also recognize that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will support the Post-2015 Development Agenda are aimed to be cross-cutting and holistic, and that a Goal encompassing agriculture and forestry, among other sectors and land uses, is one of the options currently under discussion.
For both of these global challenges, a landscape approach provides opportunities in formulating policies and targets, as well as implementing them. Landscapes hold the key to a very large part of the future we want.
The Global Landscapes Forum has articulated 13 actionable policy recommendations and incentives for a multilateral climate agreement, the SDG process as well as other actors. These recommendations, summarized below, are based on results of individual sessions and do not necessarily represent a consensus of the Forum as whole.
Deforestation and forest degradation account for 10–15% of global human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. The causes of deforestation vary both regionally and temporally, and generally do not occur in isolation but operate through a complex range of interactions.
The principal objective of the UNFCCC’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) is to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by financially incentivizing countries to maintain forest cover. For a host of reasons, the scheme has also come to incorporate biodiversity, poverty, governance and adaptation objectives.
Applying the landscape approach concept to REDD+ can encourage cross-sectoral perspectives to deliver on equity goals, co-benefits and multilevel governance of natural resources.
A comprehensive SDG framework should enable and compel the development of mutually supportive goals, while counteracting institutional silos. A sustainable landscape goal would provide an integrated and coherent picture, thereby supporting the performance of future SDGs.
A new investment asset class focusing on sustainable landscapes is emerging, but to successfully scale up that investment, long-term enabling conditions are required. An SDG focusing on sustainable landscapes could unlock private sector innovation and investment, turning trade-offs into synergies.
Agriculture can be used for both adaptation to and mitigation of climate change. The sector accounts for 29% of GDP in developing countries and provides jobs for 65% of their populations. At the same time, agriculture accounts for 14–24% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is the main driver of deforestation.
Sustainable landscape management could increase food production, strengthen farmers’ resilience to climate change and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. To ensure that agriculture contributes to adaptation and mitigation efforts without undermining food production and the fight against poverty, negotiators should:
As men’s and women’s levels of responsibility and decision making over natural resources vary from sedentary agriculture, pastoralist, and shifting cultivation cultures, overlooking gender differences can result in incorrect assessments of the trade-offs and effects of policies on communities.
National Adaptation Plan (NAP) development can facilitate cross-sector planning between the agriculture, forestry, water and energy sectors.
Watersheds often encompass multiple areas of a landscape – forests, agriculture, mountains, fisheries. Their management requires a multi-scale, multi-stakeholder and multi-sector approach. The landscape approach has long been applied through watershed management and territorial development to improve the adaptive capacity and resilience of rural communities and ensure food supply.
Young people are rarely involved in important policy debates in natural resource sectors and, for various reasons, may choose not to work in the rural sector. If young farmers, foresters and fishery managers do not replace aging producers, sustainable future landscapes will be seriously compromised.
There are numerous actors whose decisions influence the landscape and its evolution. However, coordination across institutions and sectors is often lacking — even within high-level bodies such as UNFCCC and UNCSD. Efforts are needed to bridge these gaps.
Rights-based approaches to land management are rooted in international treaties and legislation, yet are rarely implemented at the ground level. Any approach to land management must recognize and prioritize the rights, needs and positive contributions to ecosystem conservation of marginalized groups such as indigenous peoples, local communities, pastoralists and peasants.
Landscape approaches that consider the full implications of a policy for local people benefit the environment, the economy and society
Mountain ecosystems are home to almost a quarter of the world’s population and cover 27% of the world’s land surface. Mountains have been dubbed the ‘water towers of the world,’ as they provide fresh water for half of the world’s population as well as energy, timber, biodiversity maintenance and opportunities for recreation.
National and international investments in rural landscapes should favor no-regrets options that contribute to mitigation and adaptation. Both public and private sector finance should be considered, as businesses and financial institutions increasingly commit to sustainable supply chains. The public sector should focus their resources on enabling conditions for investments.
Diversity at the landscape level — of ecosystems, species and genetic resources, and livelihood options — enhances ecosystem and human resilience to economic and climatic shocks.
Enhancing sustainability goals requires transparency, effective monitoring and evidence-based impact assessment of commodity supply chain interventions, as well as multi-stakeholder cross-sectoral partnerships.
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