In November 2019, dozens of organizations worldwide began working in “radical collaboration” to advance the 1000 Landscapes for 1 Billion People initiative (1000 Landscapes). They are joining forces to link currently fragmented efforts, build capacities, and unlock investment finance that will enable landscape partnerships everywhere to achieve their regenerative landscape and livelihood ambitions more quickly, effectively and at scale.
As the pivotal ‘Decade of Action’ for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) gets underway, around the world hundreds of landscape partnerships are forging holistic strategies to meet the SDGs— integrating action for food, water and health security, sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity conservation, climate action, and the transition to inclusive green economies. These partnerships form around watersheds, bioregions, jurisdictions or city-regions, to align the actions of all stakeholders who depend upon and impact landscape resources, including farmers, local and indigenous communities, social and environmental NGOs, local governments and business enterprises. However, efforts to advance ‘integrated landscape management’ approaches remain fragmented and under-resourced. The challenge is how to unlock the transformative potential of inclusive landscape partnerships and to scale their impact. Sara J. Scherr, President and CEO of EcoAgriculture Partners and Chair of 1000 Landscapes says:
“Now, more than ever, inclusive landscape partnerships are needed to mobilize the shift towards a regenerative economy that stores more carbon than it emits; that produces, and critically distributes enough food, shelter, hope, and healing for all humans to lead dignified lives; and that provides for a growing, rather than shrinking, diversity of all who live and depend on this earth”.
While each partnership faces unique local challenges, all face common systemic constraints. Local stakeholders’ visions are undermined by top-down development strategies. The expertise to facilitate large landscape-scale partnerships is scarce, costly and difficult to access. Landscape partners are unable to mobilize finance needed for investment at scale. Midori Paxton, Head of Biodiversity at the United Nations Development Programme, asserts that:
“If landscapes are to provide dignified livelihoods, we must take collective action to support landscape regeneration on a scale never seen before”.
1000 Landscapes targets these systems constraints, aiming to shift landscape partnerships from the margins to the center of development and environment strategies. Willem Ferwerda, CEO of Commonland explains:
“Our goal is to massively revitalize large ecosystems or landscapes, with a long-term holistic approach enabling local on-the-ground actions of farmers, entrepreneurs, indigenous people, and public and private landowners to bring hope, jobs, trees and biodiversity, while creating sustainable financial returns.”
The initiative will develop innovative tools to accelerate action and impact across at least 1000 landscapes. Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Tech Matters, the leading non-profit organization developing information technology for the social good, argues:
“Innovation demands getting great tech tools to local landscape leaders working on the front lines of the climate crisis”
Designing innovations to meet the needs of local partnerships, the initiative will serve as an accelerator for diverse programs of national governments, investors, companies and NGOs that are seeking to support landscape development.
The initial priorities for 1000 landscapes are:
- A digital platform for landscape management and integrated tools to help landscape partnerships organize, plan, fund, implement and demonstrate the impact of transformative landscape action and investment portfolios. Local landscape data will be enhanced with global scientific data.
- Financial innovations for landscape integration that facilitate funding (such as grants, public funds, loans, investment finance, and ecosystem service payments, as appropriate) for landscape-regenerating investment portfolios that meet holistic, locally-prioritized landscape goals. By adapting well-tested financial mechanisms from other fields, we expect to shift billions of dollars to high impact regenerative activities.
- Establishment of an organizational structure that puts locally-led governance in control. This new approach would allow goals and strategies to be set at the local level and connect local initiatives with businesses, conservation organizations and regional, national and global programs.
The initial collaborative design phase of 1000 Landscapes will focus on in-depth consultations with landscape partnerships, landscape developers, financiers and others. This way, the priorities of landscape users will guide development of innovations, while also building on the array of tools and resources already available. Paul Chatterton, Lead of the WWF Landscape Finance Lab, notes:
“So much good work is already being done, and so much has been learned about developing, implementing and financing landscape regeneration. 1000 Landscapes will work with partners to develop a new generation of financial mechanisms that reach actors on the ground while scaling to full potential.”
An initial dozen landscape partnerships in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the Americas and Europe are participating in the design phase of 1000 Landscapes. Following the design phase, innovations will be tested and refined in another 50 landscapes, after which — through partners’ networks — their use will be scaled to 1000 landscapes. Nigel Sizer,Chief Program Officer with the Rainforest Alliance, notes:
“By 2030, we believe that ecosystem regeneration and inclusive economic development can reach at least 1000 landscapes, meeting locally-defined development and environmental goals, with benefits for over one billion people.”
1000 Landscapes for 1 Billion People is convened by EcoAgriculture Partners, a non-profit that has worked since 2002 to advance ideas, practices and policies for integrated landscape management. The other founding partners of 1000 Landscapes are active NGO landscape developers Rainforest Alliance, Commonland, the WWF Landscape Finance Lab, the United Nations Development Programme and Tech Matters. Another 25 organizations have joined as technical partners to help accelerate 1000 Landscapes.*
Financial support and collaboration for the design phase have been generously provided by the IKEA Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, the Sall Family Foundation, the Hitz Family Foundation, the Cariplo Foundation, the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation, the IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands, the Mulago Foundation and Climate-KIC.
For a more detailed overview of the initiative, see the concept note. To stay posted as the initiative develops, sign up here. A series of upcoming blog posts will explore key concepts and activities of the initiative. For more information contact Manon Koningstein, Communications Manager, EcoAgriculture Partners, firstname.lastname@example.org
*Technical Partners: African Model Forest Network, African Centre for a Green Economy, the Capital Institute, Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), Center for Land and Water Resources – Ethiopia, Climate-KIC, Coalition for Private Investment in Conservation (CPIC), Commonland, Conservation International, Cornell University, ETH Zurich, IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands, Kijabe Environment Volunteers-Kenya (KENVO), LandScale, Latin American Model Forest Network, Loom Capital, the MSP Institute, PBL-Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, MacroStrategy Edge, PRISMA, Regen Network, Root Capital, SANREM-Africa, Tropenbos International, World Resources Institute.