EcoAgriculture Partners Newsletter: March 4, 2013
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EcoAgriculture and the City
 
A message from EcoAgriculture Partners' president Sara J. Scherr

Over the past decade at EcoAgriculture Partners, our work has focused largely on rural areas and populations. While we have regularly attended international meetings and hosted workshops in cities as diverse as Rio de Janeiro, Addis Ababa, and Toronto, we had not taken an in depth look explicitly at the links between cities and their rural surroundings. Now that has changed.


It is more than ever evident that cities and human settlements, and global trajectories of rapid urbanization, will have a profound impact on rural landscapes. Cities themselves are grappling with many of the same challenges we have long worked to address in rural areas: food security, sustainable agriculture development, ecosystem management, biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation and mitigation. City leaders have stimulated enormous innovation in urban food systems, ecosystem management, climate change, health and livelihoods. New relationships are being forged between cities and their surrounding rural areas that involve new patterns of food supply, and recognize interdependence for ecosystem health and livelihoods.  But it is still unusual for all these elements to be explicitly inter-related and collaboratively managed in the way we describe as 'integrated landscape management'.


City regions are realizing that without better linking the urban and rural, the health and survival of both is imperiled. So we asked ourselves, in our partnership with the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative, what we could learn-for action in both urban and rural areas-from integrated action already happening in urban development, and what we could contribute from what we already know about integrated management.


Thus, several partners in the Initiative who are deeply involved in various sustainable cities movements came together in 2012 to begin an assessment of city regions through an integrated landscape lens. Thomas Forster of the New School and Arthur Getz Escudero of Cardiff University tapped new research on sustainable urbanization and ecosystem resources and food systems, international networks such as FAO's Food and Cities Initiative and Local Governments for Sustainability or ICLEI, and Non-governmental organizations such as RUAF, to find examples and challenges of sectoral inter-linkages. This week we published the results of that effort, City Regions as Landscapes for People, Food and Nature. It provides an inspiring - if challenging - picture of the opportunities that integration presents for cities, and for re-shaping the relationships between urban and rural populations, economies and ecosystems. We hope you will consider sharing it with you colleagues and networks, across as many sectors as possible.


Sincerely,

Sara J. Scherr

New Publication: City Regions as Landscapes for People, Food and Nature
 
A new paper by Thomas Forster and Arthur Getz Escudero highlights the importance of the urban-rural continuum in the consideration of integrated landscapes for agriculture. 

Urban landscapes are rapidly growing, and as they do, cities are becoming hungrier. But city-dwellers are not autonomous; they must increasingly rely on food produced in rural areas. Although these regions have long been considered separate from each other, they are actually connected in ways that deeply affect the health of both landscapes.

 

"It's time to think 'outside the urban box,'" says Thomas Forster, co-author (with Arthur Getz Escudero) of "City Regions as Landscapes for People, Food and Nature." Forster is a faculty member at the New School's Food Studies Program, and Escudero is a researcher at Cardiff University's School of City & Regional Planning. The paper offers a fresh take on integrated landscapes that highlights the links between cities, peri-urban and rural areas. The authors address common challenges between regions that have previously been considered unconnected. Through a discussion of new research and policy, they propose pathways to solutions for shared questions and bring light to opportunities that could benefit all.

 

Across the urban-rural continuum, food and agriculture are themes that link public health, the environment and economic development. Forster and Escudero point out that "the economies and ecosystems of cities and rural areas are inextricably linked, and we need to look at the bigger picture if we expect to maintain resilient and sustainable food systems in both areas." In order to facilitate such a strong connection, City Regions calls for participation between stakeholders across disciplines at the national and international levels.

 

The future of policy in food security and sustainable agriculture sectors on the urban-rural continuum depend on participation from high-level leaders to connect inter-sectoral efforts. Without integrating urban and rural approaches to food and nutrition, the prospects for the sustainability of both urban and rural are bleak. The report offers a vision forward, featuring cases of current successes in city region management and models that may act as tools for planning the necessary linkages between urban and rural landscapes.

As the debates about sustainability and urbanization intensify around discussion of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, this research is more pertinent than ever. Download the paper now, and visit landscapes.ecoagriculture.org to read more and join the conversation. 

 


EcoAgriculture in the Netherlands to Help Launch Sustainable Land and Water Program

A major new initiative to develop the case for collaborative investment of business and other stakeholders in sustainable land and water management launched February 28th in The Hague. EcoAgriculture Partners staff representing the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative (LPFN) co-facilitated the launch with the program's lead implementer, IDH-the Sustainable Trade Initiative. The new 20 million euro Sustainable Land and Water Program (SLWP) will convene the interests, knowledge and power of local public and private stakeholders to safeguard long-term supply of natural resources in six integrated landscape initiatives between 2014 and 2018, including two pre-identified landscapes in Vietnam and Kenya.

 

The public launch was hosted by the program's sponsor, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands, with introductions from Mr. Rob Swartbol, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; followed by presentations from and a panel discussion with Mr. Ted van der Put of IDH, Dr. Sara Scherr of EcoAgriculture Partners. Mr. Jan Kees Vis of Unilever (presenting the Southwest Mau Forest, Kenya landscape) and Dr. Dang Kim Son of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (presenting the Vietnam coffee highlands landscape).  

 

The public launch event followed a day-long expert workshop with more than 60 local and international practitioners designed to further strengthen the program's technical and analytical approach related to aspects of landscape governance and sustainable financing for landscape initiatives in implementation.

 

Sara Scherr and Lee Gross of EcoAgriculture Partners contributed to the workshop with presentations on relevant insights from the LPFN's work on business engagement in landscape approaches and continental reviews in Africa and Latin America and by facilitating two working groups on best practices in landscape governance with participants.

 

EcoAgriculture will serve as a strategic knowledge partner and the LPFN as the platform for the SLWP to develop tailored knowledge products for key audiences, convene local and international stakeholders, and advance the widespread adoption of public-private partnerships in landscapes initiatives that address the interconnected risks associated with international commodity value chains, while simultaneously advancing integrated objectives for production, conservation and livelihoods.

 

More information about the SLWP and planned collaboration with EcoAgriculture Partners and the LPFN will be available shortly. For more information about the program visit IDH's website at: http://www.idhsustainabletrade.com/sustainable-land-and-water-program.

 

 

 

Photo by Abby Hart/EcoAgriculture Partners
Collaborating for Change in Central American Landscapes
 
At the International Forum on Landscape Restoration, Governance, and Climate Change on February 17 and 18, academics, local leaders, policymakers and interested citizens from Central America and around the globe met in El Salvador to discuss restoring degraded landscapes around the world.

 

The goal of the meeting was to share ideas that would lead to widespread landscape restoration in the context of global climate change, with an emphasis on vertical and horizontal collaborations between institutions, as stated in the keynote address by Hugo Martinez, the Secretary General of the Central American Integration System (SICA). EcoAgriculture Partners contributed to the forum as researchers Abby Hart and Seth Shames were in attendance to present recent findings in presentations and discussions.


Institutions and incentives which must be constructed in order to transform degraded landscapes, improve resilience to climate change, and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions were a key topic of discussion. An exchange of practical lessons provided practitioners with new approaches to managing territorial governance, and policy development objectives for integrated adaptation and mitigation. Other topics of discussions and workshops included the need for incentives required for private sector involvement, local appropriation of restoration processes, and political backstopping. It was especially important to keep in mind the Central American Dry Corridor, as this local region faces challenges in the wake of climate change and stakeholders must reduce vulnerability and improve adaptation across the region on farm and landscape scales.


Abby made a presentation titled "Linking Research, Learning and Action to Strengthen Integrated Landscape Initiatives," focused on recent work by the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative. With an emphasis on Central and South America, she discussed the upcoming Landscape Governance Review and the results of the recent Continental Review of Integrated Landscape Initiatives. The presentation also brought attention to the Landscape Policy Dialogues and the Learning Landscape Network, with the intent of building collaboration on these efforts with colleagues in Latin America.


Seth's presentation, "Financing Strategies for Integrated Landscape Management" showed another approach of the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative. The presentation demonstrated the methods of funding climate-smart agricultural landscapes and integrated landscape initiatives(ILIs) using resources from the public and private sectors. Using real case studies from a range of financial institutions, Seth addressed the benefits, risks and challenges challenges associated with financing integrated landscapes on any scale, providing recommendations for stakeholders and farmers looking to increase their involvement in landscape restoration.


The meeting was organized by SICA, the World Bank Program on Forests (PROFOR), the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), the Global Water Initiative, and the PRISMA Foundation and was successful in bringing together participants who shared inter-sectoral knowledge, insight and analyses on making resilient integrated landscapes in Central America and around the world.

 

From the Blog: The Pablo Standard: Encouraging Place-based Agroecology in El Salvador  
 
While in San Salvador attending the International Forum on Landscape Restoration, Governance and Climate Change, EcoAgriculture Partners representatives Abby Hart and Seth Shames conducted a field visit to explore one of the landscapes being discussed in El Salvador's new Program on Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration.
 

Just northeast of San Salvador, the Cinquera municipality covers the hillside alongside El Salvador's largest body of fresh water, the Cerrón Grande reservoir (known locally as Lake Suchitlán). This lake has been recognized as a RAMSAR site, which is one of the reasons why upstream areas in the surrounding watershed, including Cinquera, have become increasingly interested in reducing natural resource degradation and promoting forest restoration.

 

Cinquera has been selected by the Minister of Environment of El Salvador as one of the pilot landscapes for his National Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration Program (PREP), which aims to promote widespread land restoration to reduce vulnerability and improve adaptation to climate change at farm, landscape and territorial scales. The landscape has had high levels of collaboration between communities for many years, which the Minister attributes to the fact that many of the region's residents are ex-guerillas... [continue reading]

   


Photo by Neil Palmer/CIAT, click to read about the benefits of trees in agricultural systems in the Mekong.
In East Asia, Commodity Exports and Sustainability Growing Together
 
EcoAgriculture Partners is working with the World Bank to improve environmental performance of commodity exports in East Asia. 
 
By Kedar Mankad, Research Program Associate
 

East Asia has experienced an explosion of agricultural commodity export growth for food, fiber and fuel in the past decade. While contributing significantly to economic and income growth in the region, export production has led to large and well-documented environmental degradation of landscapes,, including water pollution, soil degradation, deforestation, biodiversity loss, wetlands destruction, depletion of aquifers, pesticide poisoning and other risks to human health and livelihoods.

 

Some types of environmental impacts can be effectively mitigated through a specific technological or supply chain intervention such as low-pesticide production systems that reduce water pollution. In other cases, coordinated action among groups of land managers and government agencies is needed to improve outcomes across whole landscapes.

 

EcoAgriculture Partners is collaborating with the World Bank's East Asia Environment, Social, and Rural Development Unit (EASER) to draw lessons for national agricultural and environmental policymakers in Asia on how to improve environmental performance in landscapes where export commodities are produced.

 

The project will identify the policy options available for Asian policymakers to improve environmental performance, and the market, ecosystem and policy conditions under which these are likely to be effective. The application of diverse policy instruments will be illustrated through case studies where meaningful environmental efforts are underway in export commodity landscapes in China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Results and reports of the project are expected in June 2014. 

 

 

Landscape Management Approaches at the Nexus 
 
EcoAgriculture Partners will host a side event at the upcoming Nexus 2014: Water, Food, Climate and Energy Conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA on behalf of the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative. 
 

Program manager Lee Gross will facilitate a panel discussion featuring Thomas Forster, co-author of "City Regions as Landscapes for People, Food and Nature", along with others highlighting recent work by the Initiative and its partners.

 

The event will include brief presentations on the concept of integrated landscape management; results of continental reviews of hundreds of integrated landscape initiatives in Africa and Latin America; highlights from the Initiative's recent studies of business engagement in landscape initiatives and financing mechanisms, and plans to scale up integrated approaches through the LPFN. Participants will be encouraged to share their own experiences with landscape approaches, and ultimately identify how integrated approaches to landscape management can be used to advance the Nexus Strategy of developing interconnected solutions for achieving security for water, climate, and food.  

 


Communications Office Welcomes Two Interns

Our staff continues to grow as we enter our 10th year. 

Changes came in January with two new additions to the communications team, Jes Walton and Eleanor Greene, who will help increase web content and outreach by writing and coordinating posts on the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative blog, conducting social media outreach and providing website design and content support.

 

Jes is currently working towards dual masters' degrees in sustainable development, international affairs and natural resources at American University's School of International Service. She received her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science from Colorado College, after which she served as an agroforestry volunteer for the Peace Corps in West Africa. After she graduates this spring, Jes hopes to start a career that connects social and environmental research interests in food sovereignty and environmental justice for smallholder agricultural producers.

 

Eleanor is an undergraduate in the School of Communication at American University and studies journalism and creative writing. She became interested in sustainable agriculture after working on an organic farm in Vermont and is particularly interested in the food, nutrition, and access aspects of agriculture. Eleanor is currently the web editor at the campus publication American Way of Life Magazine and will graduate in spring 2015.

 

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