This blog is a summary of the FAO-EcoAgriculture Partners Virtual Round Table on Territorial Perspectives for Development held on April 30th, 2020 by FAO and EcoAgriculture Partners, in which over 170 people participated. View the event recording and a report by FAO, click here.
The Role of Territorial Perspectives for Development
Territorial perspectives for development, characterized as multi-stakeholder approaches implemented at a defined spatial level, are a powerful tool for improving development outcomes. Emerging from decades of dissatisfaction with top-down development paradigms, these approaches enable the creation of successful development policies adapted to new territorial realities while addressing the integrated nature of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a globalized world.
In the virtual Round Table event jointly coordinated by FAO North America and EcoAgriculture Partners, territorial approaches to development and how they link to integrated landscape management were the subject of conversation for over 170 participants joining from across the globe.
Opening the Round Table was Sara Scherr, President and CEO of EcoAgriculture Partners, who stated, “for the past several decades there have been growing movements all around the world for more participatory and more sustainable place-centered development, in which local people work together around their own visions for their futures, set their priorities and move together for realizing that vision.” The place-based spatially explicit nature of territorial approaches enables this type of action.
Territorial approaches allow for a more holistic understanding of the complex and interrelated aspects of development such as livelihood development, good governance, food security and ecosystem restoration, which cannot happen in isolation from each other. Vera Boerger, a Senior Land and Water Officer for FAO, pointed out, our responses to increasingly complex challenges also need to be complex and interrelated so that we may “tackle the social, economic and environmental concerns in an integrated manner creating synergies and ensuring inclusivity and sustainability.”
Tensions and Synergies Between Territorial Development and Integrated Landscape Management
Louise Buck, Lead for Collaborative Management at EcoAgriculture Partners, explained the origins of territorial approaches were often focused around “strategies for the empowerment of local people and the decentralization of power” predominantly occurring in urban areas focused more on socio-economic and political objectives. Simultaneously, landscape approaches concentrate on the linkages between the social and ecological realm and therefore have a tendency to be more rural-focused and tied to biophysical and ecological objectives.
Despite these differences, there is a significant overlap between these two theories of practice and, consequently, a need for practitioners of both methods to be aware of each other and recognize synergies.
Buck emphasized that each practice has much to gain from the other. For example, “landscape approaches stand to learn from concerning practices and principles for mobilizing grassroots local agency where political struggle may be required to overcome the status quo” whereas territorial development “stands to learn from the experiences of landscape approaches and the apparent dependence of social wellbeing on ecosystem function and the land uses that ensure it.”
Further underscoring the increasing potential and need for collaboration between territorial and landscape approaches, Thomas Forster, Principal of Practice2Policy, pointed out, “they are linked through networks of common principles and frameworks” and that there is “an urgency to act in solidarity on the basis of these common principles and frameworks to operationalize this work embracing inclusion, embracing equity, embracing resilience and embracing sustainability.”
Moving Forward in Tandem
There is a growing need to take stock of experiences in territorial and landscape approaches globally. The expanding body of research and the number of events held to analyze and discuss these principles and frameworks indicates this need is being increasingly recognized as well as the demand for territorial approaches to converge with landscape approaches.
By focusing on the synergies between the two practices, and not the difference, Boerger affirmed that we will best set ourselves up for achieving the SDGs in a holistic and integrated manner.
Forster summarized this point by saying, “The best and possibly only way to not leave anyone or any place behind, and to address inequality, while delivering economic, social and environmental wellbeing is through a combination of landscape and territorial approaches.”