Global development is moving with great speed. The scale of the global land use change is so rapid that it affects Earth’s orbit, pointing at the increasing interconnectedness of socio-economic activities and the environment, unraveling the links that we, perhaps, have not imagined before.
Meanwhile we are still trying to address natural resource management by setting policies and planning utilizing sector approach. Many existing institutions and agencies are made for management for single resource management, like water, energy, forests or agriculture etc. and have outdated structure with little institutionalized interconnections to other elements of the natural resources management system. It is clear, however, that sectorial approach is not the way to go and that institutional planning and coordination on a landscape level might be a better way forward.
Despite the fact that no single country has national policies established at a landscape level, hope and expectations for future landscape policies are high. There is a growing interest in landscape approaches, mostly driven by challenges related to conservation and food security in developing countries. Great success of the Global Landscape Forum 2014 in Lima serves as evidence for this active process.
Landscape approach practice revealed a number of implementation obstacles and challenges. Some of these are insecure tenure rights, inefficient institutions and insufficient governance, low capacity, sector-based subsidies, lack of funding, disconnect to markets, lack of political will. There are, however, positive examples. Success factors are strong involvement of the stakeholders and effective coordination between all parties including outside beneficiaries of the projects implemented with the use of landscape approaches.
Achieving sustainable landscapes would require substantial investments. Current evaluations provide information about whether investments were made in the landscapes or not, but it is not yet possible to evaluate the magnitude of these investments or the return on them. While environmental NGOs and civil society organizations are leaders in landscape investment, private sector investment is missing.
These are some of the ideas from the soon to be published policy brief prepared in collaboration with the Think Tank for International Forestry Issues, SIFI. The publication was initiated at the “Landscapes Approaches in Practice” event arranged at the SLU campus in Umeå.