A Global Agricultural Research Partnership

Landscapes approach for sustainable development


A cross-cutting approach that uses sustainable landscapes as a pathway to providing food, shelter, income, ecosystem services and environmental goods will be the focus of a major event this weekend.

The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF), taking place in Warsaw, Poland, from November 16 to 17, will be held on the sidelines of the next round of UN climate talks, UNFCCC COP19. The forum is expected to bring together more than 1,000 global experts, policy makers, and representatives of the private sector, civil society, farm organizations and indigenous groups to share landscape development strategies that are climate smart, equitable, productive and profitable.  

The CGIAR Consortium is closely involved in the GLF, and members of the CGIAR Consortium, and CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) are planning a strong presence*. The Forum is jointly coordinated by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) on behalf of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, and by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), on behalf of a global consortium of leading Agriculture and Rural Development organizations.

Making its debut this year, the GLF combines into one event two of the world’s most influential annual conferences on the role of forests and agriculture in mitigating and adapting to climate change: Forest Day and Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day. The objective is to develop the potential of the landscape approach to inform future UNFCCC agreements and the achievement of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals.

Bringing the forestry and agriculture communities together 

On a global level, one billion people are currently food insecure. A further one billion people will need feeding by 2030. Expanding food production is generally achieved at the expense of forestry systems — at present, agriculture accounts for three-quarters of all global deforestation. The landscapes approach aims to tackle agriculture and forestry issues together, rather than in isolation, examining trade-offs and seeking solutions which can be beneficial to all, especially local communities.

As CIFOR Director General Peter Holmgren points out in a recent blog, it is not an entirely new approach: “Many, including CIFOR have emphasized the importance of working across sectors on the ground. What is new, however, is a broad, high-level interest in the approach.”

The CRPs set up under the new CGIAR embody the cross-cutting approach to agricultural research, which is starting to gain wide acceptance as the most effective way forward. The GLF plans to build on that impetus and explore how taking a holistic approach to land-use management can contribute to sustainable development and support actions to curb climate change.

The forum will be organized along four main themes, all of which tie in broadly with the CGIAR system-level outcomes:

  • Investing in Sustainable Landscapes and Livelihoods.
  • Landscape Policy and Governance
  • Synergies between Adapting to and Mitigating Climate Change in Landscapes.
  • Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition.

The role of youth in protecting landscapes

CGIAR is proud to be supporting a special event at GLF: Youth: The future of sustainable landscapes, as part of efforts to strengthen youth networks and highlight solutions in mobilizing youth to achieve a sustainable, food secure future.

The event is being organized by CIFOR and the Young Professionals’ Platform for Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD). Members of this youth-based network have proven to be highly active in the landscape sector and have an extensive social media reach within the conference’s target audience.

Involving young people in making decisions which will affect their future will be crucial to shaping sustainable landscapes. The landscape sector holds promising potential as a source of jobs for young people, and is in urgent need of their dynamism, energy and fresh ideas.  The youth event will seek to harness online networks to bring together young people and those working with youth in landscapes sectors, so as to highlight issues and possible solutions. The focus will be on exploring concrete, action-driven pledges that youth can undertake to help achieve sustainable landscapes, say organizers.

If Africa, and other parts of the developing world, is to achieve food security, its youth must be regarded as critical agricultural players who need and deserve special attention, support and follow-up, says GLF youth session moderator Sithembile Mwamakamba, in a blog posted in the run-up to the event. “With their energy, passion and talents, they can help to solve many of the serious problems that Africa faces today. But first the youth must be given the tools that they need to drive Africa’s green revolution, while also safeguarding the continent’s natural resources and the environment.”

*The following are details of CGIAR involvement in GLF sessions:

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) will be organizing and participating in a number of Technical and Networking Sessions and Discussion Forums throughout the Forum. A few of the sessions will be live-streamed:

Follow the Global Landscapes Forum via the social media channels: The blog, @GlobalLF on Twitter, #GLFCOP19 Twitter tag and on Facebook.

More information:

CGIAR Global Landscapes Forum event page
Global Landscapes Forum (official website)
Global Landscapes Forum: Shaping the climate agenda for forests and agriculture (CCAFS)
On Landscapes – Part 1: Why are landscapes important? (CIFOR)
On Landscapes – Part 2: What are landscapes? (CIFOR)
Landscapes debate could reinvigorate UN climate talks in Warsaw – negotiator (CIFOR)
Q+A: Scientist Terry Sunderland describes the “landscapes approach” (CIFOR)
Global Landscapes Forum (CIFOR video)
Youth: The future of sustainable landscapes (GLF)
Young Professionals’ Platform for Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD)
Giving youth a policy voice (GLF)

Featured image credit: Charlie Pye-Smith/CIFOR.


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