Modeling the impact of integrated landscape management on the SDGs

Using models and scenarios to assess the contribution of integrated landscape management to the Sustainable Development Goals

By Janwillemvanaalst (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Modeling the impact of integrated landscape management on the SDGs


Our Partners

PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency

Our Supporters

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands

Project Contact


Without integration, waste and conflict

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a comprehensive framework for action. However, the number of goals could increase competition for financial resources, conflicts among goals, capacity constraints, and the over-exploitation of natural resources and ecosystems that underpin them, unless they are implemented in an integrated manner.

Few guidelines for smart integration

Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) offers a promising means of implementing the SDGs to meet the full range of Goals by minimizing tradeoffs and maximizing synergies between them. Currently there are few clear guidelines for policymakers on how to implement ILM in ways that will achieve public benefits relevant for the SDGs, and there are few planning tools available that can inform negotiations among stakeholders from different sectors as they jointly set priorities for action at the landscape scale.


The map image above is “Topografisch beeld van de stad Almere” by Jan-Willem Van Aalst.

Our Role

Modeling scenarios for ILM interventions

Modeling scenarios for ILM interventions using an integrated, participatory and spatially explicit approach, offers an option to more systematically inform decision-making by assessing the order of magnitude of potential effects and their interactions across a large landscape.

Deepening understanding of synergies

This project aims to develop and assess the potential use of spatially explicit modeling and scenario tools to inform stakeholders in large landscape initiatives about the results of land-use management to achieve multiple SDGs. The project also aims to deepen understanding of potential trade-offs and synergies among different SDGs, and develop insights on methods to monitor and evaluate integrated interventions at a landscape scale.

Watch a session on this project from the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, December 2018

How We Do It

Pilot landscapes supply data 

Three case study landscapes are selected to pilot the project. In these three large and diverse case studies, landscape initiative activities are ongoing and data for modeling is available. To capture the integrated socio-economic, cultural, biophysical and multi-level planning dynamics of diverse landscapes a spatially explicit fit-for-purpose modeling framework needs to be developed.

Fit the modeling framework to purpose

The modeling framework will be informed by input and feedback from local stakeholders through workshops designed to define anticipated scenarios and to identify and characterize relevant technical, market and institutional interventions anticipated to meet several SDGs. As a start the project will focus on analyzing the contribution of ILM to specific targets in four SDGs: “Zero Hunger,” “Clean Water and Sanitation,” “Climate Action,” and “Life on Land,” but additional targets in other SDGs, like “No Poverty” and “Gender Equality” will be included where they are high priority goals for the local landscape initiatives.

Read the Synthesis Report of the first phase of this project

Our Impact

Stakeholders in pilot landscapes are benefitting by having a clearer understanding of the trade-offs, synergies, and spatial impacts of proposed interventions, and strengthening their capacity for long-term collaborative planning and design. In Kilombero, Tanzania, for instance, the scenario modeling process helped build a consensus among stakeholders, at all levels, on the need for a long-term multi-stakeholder landscape management platform to facilitate achieving the SDGs. Scenario models also provide valuable input to national government planning and action to achieve the SDGs.

Demonstrating the viability of alternatives to destructive mining for livelihood improvement has encouraged local resistance in Ghana’s biodiversity-rich Atewa-Densu forest. The scenarios have also supported international NGOs pressuring the government to change course and restrict mining to protect the forest, by showing the impacts on Ghana’s ability to achieve the SDGs if they allow mining in the forest to proceed.

This project is also helping the wider international community that is supporting and implementing landscape initiatives to think more strategically about how integrated landscape investments and activities can contribute to the SDGs, and how to approach longer-term landscape planning in a more systematic—and systemic—way.

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