Natural and human ecosystems are complex and intimately connected. If we are to solve some of the greatest challenges of our times, like climate change and poverty, while avoiding as best we can any unintended consequences, we must engage with the complexity of these systems. This is the spirit behind integrated land-use initiatives.
Integrated land-use initiatives offer a holistic approach to sustainable development by challenging practitioners to look beyond traditional, sectoral development projects and instead to embrace the complexity of entire landscapes. These initiatives aim to protect ecosystems and safeguard natural resources while improving the livelihoods of communities. They tend to have longer time horizons and operate at large scales and require meaningful engagement with a wide variety of stakeholders. They operate across economic sectors and their ambition necessitates continuous learning and adaptive management. Many different groups have used different terms to describe similar concepts, including the landscapes approach, integrated landscape management, sustainable land management, and a natural capital approach, to name but a few. We consider “integrated land-use initiatives” as an umbrella term, encompassing many of these methods.
By achieving impact at scale across three dimensions – social, economic, and environmental -- integrated land use initiative can contribute to multiple Sustainable Development Goals, including: 2, Zero Hunger; 13, Climate Action; and 15, Life on Land. These initiatives can also help countries reach their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Climate Agreement.
As more actors have realized the potential of this approach over the last decade or so, the number of these types of initiatives has grown substantially, leading to an amazing volume of innovation and a wide array of approaches, but a lack of comprehensive information on the range of possible methods, and limited consensus on concepts, terms, and best practices.
To open the door to meaningful collaboration and help unlock the potential of this promising approach, the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (ISFL) has released a first-of-its-kind report that takes stock of a variety of best practices and lessons learned from more than 150 integrated land-use initiatives implemented around the world.
The ISFL study, entitled “Toward a Holistic Approach to Sustainable Development: A Guide to Integrated Land-Use Initiatives”, identifies eight themes as being the most significant for the success of these initiatives: multistakeholder engagement, environmental focus, economic focus, boundary setting, land tenure, financing strategies, monitoring, evaluation, and learning, and cross-sectoral coordination.
Mirroring the participatory and inclusive nature of integrated land-use initiatives, these themes were refined through a series of consultations with practitioners and experts in integrated land use. The goal of this study is to facilitate knowledge sharing and provide a guide for practitioners looking to implement integrated land-use approaches or make existing initiatives more holistic.
As a companion to the report, the ISFL has also published a Resource and Case Studies Booklet. This booklet presents a compendium of case studies and resources to show how integrated land-use initiatives have worked in practice. It also provides practitioners with the tools necessary to adapt the lessons and approaches presented in the guide to the specific needs of the people and landscapes with which they work.
An integrated land-use approach can help promote sustainable land use, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, restore ecosystems, conserve biodiversity, and grow economies. Given the urgency of tackling climate change and the imperative of addressing global poverty, integrated land use initiatives offer a promising means of working toward creating truly sustainable, thriving communities and landscapes.
Landscape Approach 101
This self-paced course was developed by the World Bank Group to give practitioners an overview of the Landscapes Approach.
Available at: https://olc.worldbank.org/facilitated/link/00018381
The Little Sustainable Landscapes Book
This guide to sustainable landscapes was produced in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), EcoAgriculture Partners, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative, and The Global Canopy Programme.
Authors: Louisa Denier, Sara Scherr, Seth Shames, Paul Chatterton, Lex Hovani, and Nienke Stam
Available at: https://globalcanopy.org/insights/publication/the-little-sustainable-landscapes-book/