February 20, 2023

Governments Must Support Landscape and Seascape Partnerships or Risk Missing Sustainable Development Goals, New Report Finds

Ava Adoline Eucker

Deforestation, hunger, poverty and many other challenges we face today are at least in part the result of unsustainable development. Holistic policies that account for the interconnectedness of these issues can simultaneously support healthier ecosystems and the well-being of people worldwide. However, implementation has proved challenging when stakeholders need more collaboration tools. New research shows that landscape partnerships (LPs) can effectively integrate community-led solutions to meet several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

LPs are long-lasting coalitions of people and organizations that span sectors and communities with a shared vision for landscape regeneration. This systemic approach brings all necessary stakeholders together to create and implement policies that can have a meaningful impact on the 17 objectives of the SDGs, which range from ending hunger to protecting ecosystems through improving how we live on the land.

Canva image: “Rice Farmers” Here lies the power of community collaboration.


LPs can connect communities within a landscape with financial and educational resources to help them boost local livelihoods, become more sustainable and restore and conserve ecosystems. These partnerships work on a large scale; they focus on solutions that account for the needs of various sectors, such as agricultural practices that revitalize soil while increasing income in local communities.

A new white paper, Public Policy To Support Landscape and Seascape Partnerships: Meeting Sustainable Development Goals Through Collaborative Territorial Action, argues that governments at all levels must begin supporting these powerful partnerships or risk missing local SDG targets. The publication outlines the strategic coordination needed to support LPs and the critical role LPs play in improving community health and wealth, healing ecological damage and minimizing climate impacts. Experts at EcoAgriculture Partners, Cornell University, the GALLOP initiative (Global Livelihood and Landscape Recovery Platform) and Columbia University authored the publication. 

To highlight their findings, the group presented the white paper’s research during a virtual panel discussion in June 2022 co-hosted with Evidensia, an organization that helps people understand what sustainability approaches work.

Many national and international policies consider landscape-scale action essential to root more sustainable practices in communities so that they endure over the long term. However, most current governmental assistance comes from top-down policies rather than bottom-up, integrated approaches that take account of local realities. These approaches fail to address the complexities and relationships between various actors, species and ecosystems within a landscape.  

White paper figure 4: “Types of Public Policy Support Needed by Landscape and Seascape Partnerships”

“Recognizing the interconnectedness of our world … calls for a departure from the fragmented, isolated ways that we manage resources towards systemic or holistic approaches that consider social, economic and environmental needs together,” said Mohamed Bakarr, Lead Environment Specialist of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), during the event. 

Bakarr and the paper’s authors argued that governments must support collaborative policies and play a more significant role in providing financial services to landscape leaders. LPs also need access to financial and technical services, and communication networks with other LPs to implement integrated solutions, they said. “We are questioning the very basics of how we need to restructure processes for sustainable development,” said paper co-author Bhushan H. Sethi, founder of the GALLOP initiative and Project Tiger, a conservation program in India. 

Collaboration with all stakeholders, from farmers to community leaders and government officials, is central to LP development and sustainability, said Dr. Sara Scherr, President and CEO of EcoAgriculture Partners.“Government support at all levels, from local to national, is critical to the formation of landscape partnerships,” Scherr said. “It makes a huge difference to their organizational strength and effectiveness and aids LPs’ alignment with policy goals.”

The need to work towards multiple SDGs, such as taking action to combat climate change while also prioritizing sustainable communities and affordable, clean energy, has become a national policy priority worldwide. Organizations such as EcoAgriculture Partners, governments, donors and other service providers must develop tools to support the work of LPs within existing processes, governance and priorities of those in the landscape, the authors said. 

The white paper sets forth five steps to begin implementing these support services:

White paper graphic: “First steps toward designing effective policy and program support”


With these steps, landscape-scale action can meet community needs and global goals and bridge the gap in putting policy into action.“Landscape partnerships are a way to reduce complexity,” said Scherr. “They provide a place for different actors to all come and lay out their problems. Then they require facilitation skills, tools, processes and allies to make it work.”

For more information, you can access the presentation, relevant resources, and the event recording.

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