Over the past 20 years, international agricultural research has undergone a shift from a siloed perspective, delineated by different disciplines, to an integrated systems approach that takes into account the interlinkages between food security, conservation, land restoration, and sustainable development.
This new way of thinking is termed a “landscape approach”, as developed and applied by CGIAR researchers at the now merged CGIAR Research Centers, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF), under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agriculture (FTA). The approach places natural resource management at the center of CGIAR research, and enhances understanding of local socio-ecological contexts, as determinants of adoption and adaptation of CGIAR innovations.
Major studies of integrated landscape approaches have since been conducted by CIFOR-ICRAF to develop governance strategies for reconciling multiple and conflicting land-use claims and to establish more sustainable and equitable multi-functional landscapes. Agricultural innovations in landscape systems have demonstrated the ability to alleviate poverty, enable environmentally sustainable development, and support climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. Landscape systems and approaches are currently regarded as credible means of achieving global goals and commitments, including the Aichi Targets, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Bonn Challenge and other restoration goals, plus the Paris Agreement on climate change, among others.
Agricultural innovations in landscape systems have demonstrated the ability to alleviate poverty, enable environmentally sustainable development, and support climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts
Along with widespread adoption of landscape approaches, there has been widespread awareness as well. This has culminated in the formation of the Global Landscapes Forum, a movement that has used the research generated to bring integrated landscapes approaches to the broader policy forum and the practitioner community. Since 2013, the Global Landscapes Forum has become the world’s largest knowledge-led platform on sustainable land use, dedicated to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. The Forum has connected 4,900 organizations and 190,000 participants at events in Warsaw, Lima, London, Paris, Marrakech, Jakarta, Bonn, Washington D.C., Nairobi, Katowice, Kyoto, New York, Accra, and Luxembourg – reaching 770 million people from 185 countries.
The Global Landscapes Forum also contributes to a number of other initiatives, including “greening” innovations, such as AFR100 in Africa and Initiative 20×20 in Latin America, the Global Peatlands Initiative, the Blue Carbon Partnership, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, and innovative finance mechanisms under development through the Land Degradation Neutrality and the Tropical Landscapes Finance Facility. It aspires to spark a movement of 1 billion people around sustainable landscapes through a holistic, fact-based approach to the greatest global challenges: restoring billions of hectares of degraded land; tackling insecure tenure, community and gender rights; addressing food insecurity and declining rural livelihoods; confronting inadequate finance and unsustainable supply chains; and finding a universal framework of indicators to adequately measure progress.
Header photo: A landscape in Mount Halimun Salak National Park, West Java, Indonesia. Many different land types exist in this landscape including crops, forests, villages, pasture, fisheries and private water company plants. Photo by A. Erlangga/CIFOR.