December 23, 2020

Reflecting on a challenging–but hopeful–year for landscape regeneration

Sara ScherrEcoAgriculture Partners

2020 was in so many ways a painful year—the pandemic, widespread hunger, political strife, racial justice reckonings, climate-related crises. Landscape Partnerships around the world have had to navigate market disruptions, canceled convenings, and illness and loss of their members.

But so many promising seeds were also sown. Our colleagues in Landscape Partnerships have reported that the local networks and relationships built over years of dialogue and collaborative action have yielded a valuable harvest of solidarity, resilience and a platform for positive and innovative response.

EcoAgriculture Partners was fortunate in already being set up as a virtual organization, with staff in Spain, Nepal, Guatemala, and various parts of the U.S. Though we missed spending time in-person and in the field with our partners, it was also a very productive year, and promising in many ways for the future of landscape regeneration. A few highlights of 2020:

  • We successfully completed the Inception Phase of 1000 Landscapes for 1 Billion People, together with our wonderful co-leaders at Rainforest Alliance, Commonland, Conservation International, Tech Matters, UNDP, WWF Landscape Finance Lab, and dozens of technical and landscape partners. With the goal of strengthening 1000 Landscape Partnerships by 2030, we crafted a shared vision, shared framework methodology for integrated landscape management (ILM), the theory of change, scaling strategy and collaborative work plans for the 3-year Design, Testing and Demonstration Phase. Starting with a dozen landscape partnerships, we will build the Terraso digital landscape management platform, ILM capacity development and landscape finance solutions (full update coming soon).
  • We deepened understanding of Landscape Finance, produced a major study on Mobilizing finance across sectors and projects to achieve sustainable landscapes: Emerging models with 1000L, the Coalition for Private Investment in Conservation (CPIC) and the Landscape Finance Lab. This study inspired us with 24 integrated landscape finance vehicles and 16 landscape finance support institutions. With 1000L partners, we also interviewed more than 60 financiers to learn from their experiences in financing landscape-wide investment portfolios, to identify gaps, and priorities to fill them. Meanwhile, more than 10 landscape partnerships tested portions of our Landscape Investment and Finance Toolkit.
  • We refined and tested in Tanzania a six-module applied training curriculum for local government and other local leaders on Landscape-Climate Smart Agriculture, with a companion Train-the-Trainer guide, with the US Department of Agriculture and other partners. We are adapting this curriculum with the Ministry of Agriculture in Bagmati Province, Nepal to advance landscape strategies there to achieve climate resilience and agriculture green growth.
  • Meanwhile, in 2020 holistic landscape regeneration became simultaneously a notable theme in global dialogues on post-covid recovery, biodiversity conservation, nature-based climate solutions, reversing land degradation neutrality, food system transformation, and pandemic prevention.
  • EcoAgriculture was honored to join several global initiatives that could be game-changing for Landscape Partnerships. We partnered with the Rockefeller Foundation on their Food System Vision Prize focused on place-based integrated food systems. We joined the leadership team of the UN Food System Summit’s Action Track on Nature-Positive Production, which is framed around regenerative agricultural landscapes. We also became an official partner of LandScale, which is transforming our ability to measure the impacts of ILM.
  • EcoAgriculture convened a vibrant set of virtual Landscape Dialogues, together with FAO-North America, that attracted an unprecedented number of participants from around the globe. We discussed and debated the relationship between ILM and Territorial Development, the African Landscapes Action Plan, and the role ILM in the post-2020 Biodiversity Framework. We celebrated the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature initiative, which advanced collaborative dialogue, learning and action 2011-2020.

We look forward to 2021 when, as the pandemic weakens, all of these efforts can move from dialogue and planning to action on the ground. I hope you can take some time during this period to regenerate your own body, mind and spirit, and be ready to roll up your sleeves to advance landscape regeneration in the New Year.

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