November 7, 2018

Sharing the voices of private sector engagement in landscape approaches

Louis WertzEcoAgriculture Partners

We are on a mission to bring the best stories of business engagement in landscapes to light.

From Colombia to South Africa to Kenya to Ghana to the Philippines, EcoAgriculture Partners is surfacing the powerful examples of companies leading the way in collaboration for sustainability and restoration. These examples can help motivate more companies to get involved: the bottom-line benefits are clear. But just as importantly, they can help landscape initiatives and their civil society champions learn how to reach out and engage the private sector productively, and why business isn’t always to be feared when you have environmental conservation or restoration objectives. By sharing these stories, we hope to help more people, from all sectors, think creatively about how collaboration can advance thriving landscapes. And it’s working.

Listen to highlights from the GLF Digital Summit on Engaging the Private Sector in Integrated Landscape Approaches

GLF Nairobi: a chance for African leaders to share stories in person

In partnership with the Global Landscapes Forum, and thanks to funding support from the Government of the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, we were able to share these stories with hundreds of people (and now with you). I organized and moderated a discussion forum at the Global Landscapes Forum in Nairobi in August in front of nearly 100 people. It was, of course, recorded and you can watch it now online.

Digital Summit continues the conversation with a broader audience

In October we were able to bring panelists together from the Netherlands, USA, South Africa and Kenya to present additional cases to a global audience. More than 60 people listened live, and now many more have and can continue to engage with these stories by listening to a 10 minute “highlights” version of the summit (embedded above) or the full 45 minute session, embedded below.

Read one example: the Umgeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership

In the Umgeni (or Mgeni, in Zulu: uMngeni) watershed, which supplies most of the water for the city of Durban, South Africa, a significant drought caused many stakeholders, including private businesses from Coca Cola to Santam Insurance to come to see water as a shared risk. This realization led to the formation of the Umgeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership, an integrated landscape initiative to improve water resource management in the watershed. Dr. Mao Amis, Executive Director of the African Centre for a Green Economy, a South African think tank, presented the case, and emphasized that the motivation for action was the sense of shared risk. As Dr. Amis says, “the role of the private sector there was quite critical.”

This is perfectly illustrated by the participation of Santam, a major South African insurance company. Santam faced major risks from unsustainable agricultural practices upstream that were leading to increased flooding downstream, increasing claims on flood and property insurance policies. Coca-Cola, meanwhile, as a major water user in the region, faced significant reputational and regulatory risks from poor water management. Dr. Amis notes finally that Netbank, a South African lender, faced the prospect of their investments in that landscape, in a wide variety of sectors, being hampered or crippled by water scarcity, high water prices, and flooding. Coming together to invest in critical watershed management improvements allowed all these companies, the city of Durban, environmental activists, and community members share the costs of addressing these risks, as well as plan strategically to reduce the overall cost of action.

Sharing good cases and making them happen

EcoAgriculture Partners continues to share these important stories as a major component of our program on Policy and Market Innovations for ILM. At the upcoming Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn (December 1-2, 2018) we are co-organizing the Inclusive Finance and Business Engagement in Landscapes Pavilion. At that event, together with partners*, and thanks to support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), we will highlight a wide variety of case studies and examples and start discussions between private sector, civil society, and public agency leaders looking for ways to collaborate to sustain or restore thriving landscapes.

This work builds on the Business for Sustainable Landscapes project we managed with Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative partners in 2016, and the synthetic work of Seth Shames and Sara Scherr on Scaling up finance and investment in integrated landscape management from 2015. Meanwhile, in addition to analysis and advocacy, we are collaborating with IUCN Netherlands to develop and deploy the Landscape Investment and Finance Toolkit (LIFT), which helps landscape initiatives mobilize public and private finance, through existing or new enterprises, funds, and mechanisms, to support their landscape action plan.

Stay connected

Join us in Bonn (or participate online)

Seth Shames will be discussing local finance for forest and landscape restoration during an upcoming webinar organized by the Landscape Finance Lab and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on November 28th. Register here

Learn more about LIFT

*Partners in the Inclusive Finance and Business Engagement in Landscapes Pavilion include: CGIAR FTA, FSC International, IUCN NL, The Environmental Assessment Agency of the Netherlands (PBL), Solidaridad Network, Tropenbos International, and Verra.

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