“We have a new opportunity, in national and international policy circles, to start thinking about the full set of land-related problems—for agriculture, forests, rangelands, watersheds, habitat for biodiversity—as elements within a common [landscape] frame.”
On March 31st, EcoAgriculture Partners President Sara Scherr was invited to speak to international policy leaders and leaders-in-training about challenges and solutions for land management policy in developing countries. Her presentation was part of a public lecture series on Global Issues in Agriculture, coordinated by the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. A short recap follows, but it does not do justice to the policy specifics Scherr highlighted in her talk or to the sharp questions and issues raised in the discussion. I encourage you to watch the video.
“Do we want a world where we have achieved the poverty goals, but not the water goal? The forest goal, but not the food security goal? If we have to work silo-by-silo, we will be stuck in a struggle over scarce resources.” — Sara Scherr
In her presentation, Scherr interacted with students, faculty, development professionals and fellow NGO leaders to draw on the inter-linkages between issues of hunger, poverty, food production, nutrition, climate change, hydrology and forestry, with a purposeful emphasis on the inter-connections between natural resource management, food production and the Sustainable Development Goals. Her lecture highlighted the contexts and factors that allow policy makers to escape silos and take on multi-objective approaches that effectively address these issues.
To achieve this, Scherr recommends that policy makers, and land and natural resource managers adopt a landscape approach to decision-making around land. While it might not be realistic to expect, in every case, that the landscape approach will achieve all of the Sustainable Development Goals at once, “any large landscape does need to meet most of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The landscape approach can push economists, policy makers, land managers and community leaders out of their comfort zones. They are forced to move beyond the common assumption that stark trade-offs between desired outcomes are unavoidable. Through multi-stakeholder dialogue, the lived experiences and interests of different stakeholder groups are recognized, and prompt the collaborative development of plans and interventions that are designed to achieve multiple social, economic and environmental goals.
Scherr pointed to the creation of climate-smart landscapes as an example of how integrated landscape management works, “You can’t achieve all of the land use greenhouse gas emissions goals from just asking croplands to do the work. But, if you have strategic intervention in the croplands, plus in forest conservation, reforestation, improved habitat management and through habitat networks that are protect natural vegetation, you can achieve substantial emissions reductions in the landscape as a whole.”
From the blog, Sharpening the minds of landscape shakers and movers
Visit the SDGs platform on peoplefoodandnature.org for more on how we can transform our world together.
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