EcoAgriculture Partners Newsletter: April/May 2014
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Developing new financing strategies for integration in landscapes
 
A message from EcoAgriculture Partners' president Sara J. Scherr.

Policymakers and land managers around the world are turning to integrated landscape management (ILM) to resolve the increasing conflicts between finite land and resources and growing demand for food, water, and other products. ILM approaches are being applied to reduce deforestation in agricultural landscapes, increase agricultural production and water supplies by restoring degraded watersheds, and to establish biological corridors through densely populated rural regions. Yet, a comprehensive picture of how these approaches access resources, and clear recommendations for investors looking to scale them up was missing.

 

When the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative began in late 2011, it was apparent that successful ILM required access to the right kind of finance; and also that there was considerable innovation emerging in both public and private finance to address the new opportunities of ILM. Thanks to the leadership and financial support of LPFN co-organizer UNEP, EcoAgriculture Partners and the LPFN's finance working group spent nearly a year investigating the full panoply of finance available or potentially available to integrated landscape initiatives. 

 

The resulting study, Financing Strategies for Integrated Landscape Investment, is a timely input to the vibrant ongoing dialogues about investment strategies to achieve an inclusive green economy that is climate-resilient. The study uncovered a wealth of models for financing ILM, and for promoting integrated investments in agriculture, ecosystems and rural development. Just as we set out to do, the report provides a foundation for building robust investment platforms, including more effective private-public partnerships. 

 

The cases from innovative finance institutions, as well as case studies of landscapes from Brazil, Kenya and South Africa, demonstrate promising ways to add value and attract investment that benefits people, food and nature. On behalf of the many partners of the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative, I urge private financial leaders, multilateral banks and finance ministries to consider the key findings and messages in this report and integrate them into their own operating models.


Sincerely,

Sara J. Scherr

Brand New: Financing Strategies for Integrated Landscape Investment
 
Launched April 30th at an event in Washington, DC, this major report, authored by Seth Shames, of EcoAgriculture Partners, Gabrielle Kissinger of Lexeme Consulting and Margot Hill Clarvis of Earth Security Initiative, is the result of a year of research, led by the finance working group of the LPFN and supported by UNEP, on how integrated landscape initiatives are financed, who's financing them, and the barriers to more effective investment in these critical efforts. 
 
By Seth Shames, Senior Policy Program Manager
 

From small-scale farmers to large agribusinesses, land managers facing the impacts of ecosystem degradation, climate change, competition for scarce resources, poverty and food insecurity are finding these obstacles can often be best overcome through integrated landscape management (ILM). But finding and providing the financial resources for these efforts has proven to be a big challenge, both for business and for investors.

 

Getting all the actors in a landscape to collaborate on planning is an uphill climb, not least because financial investment and donor support for development has typically focused on single outcome projects. We wanted to know how integrated landscape initiatives were making it work, how public and private investors were innovating to capitalize on opportunities in landscapes, and what investors needed to see in order for them to put more money into these initiatives.

 

In Espírito Santo state, in the heart of the Brazilian Atlantic forest biodiversity hotspot, the state government is leading an initiative to get landowners to replant and restore forest on their farmland. The initiative not only benefits farmer income and biodiversity, but also lowers water treatment costs for the port-city of Vitória. Such an initiative is an exception, not the norm. Other jurisdictions in Brazil struggle to adequately coordinate the agricultural development funds, carbon offset finance, government payments for ecosystem services, and other pools of funds in order to maximize the utility of each. As study co-author Gabrielle Kissinger of Lexeme Consulting puts it, "they are finding that the more they try to make the most of investments to support sustainability, the more they run up against the limits of the financial mechanisms available." 

 

Innovation is also arising in private sector finance, as investment funds see opportunities for competitive financial gains from triple-bottom-line bets. In reviewing more than 250 financial institutions or mechanisms making investments in multi-objective projects, a few new funds stood out for their clear understanding of the value, and the challenges, of working with integrated landscape initiatives. Lead researcher on financial institutions, Margot Hill Clarvis of Earth Security Initiative, notes, "the business case for this is very young, and needs greater public sector support, but there are some public and private sector funds that have committed to working this way [supporting multiple objectives] that are indeed finding promising, if small, opportunities out there."

 

Aligning and mobilizing private sector finance for integrated landscape investments faces several major constraints, including the short time horizons required by most investors, a mismatch between investment stake and size of investment opportunities, and high investment risk versus return potential in the early stages of integration. Challenges to efforts in support of an enabling investment environment  in this area includes the silos of public sector institutions, the underfunding of landscape initiative establishment and coordination, and the difficulty of appropriately targeting public funds to promote private investment.

 

Even so, barriers to financing integrated landscape initiatives can be overcome, and the study offers the following recommendations:

  • Clarify, quantify and communicate the ILM business case.
  • Mobilize public and civil society sector finance for enabling landscape investments.
  • Coordinate sectoral investments at the landscape scale to achieve inclusive green growth.
  • Foster new partnerships between financial institutions and landscape stakeholders.
  • Utilize public finance to reduce private sector risk.
  • Use REDD+ and other targeted financial flows for enabling investments that catalyze asset investments.
  • Structure financial mechanisms to bridge asset investments across landscapes.
  • Employ investment standards and guidelines to incentivize ILM investment.

  Click here to read more and download the report.

 

Cover of Transforming Markets for Conservation

New Report wraps up the lessons of 6 years of monitoring & evaluation for the Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Program (BACP)
 
By Lee Gross, Senior Program Manager

Reconciling conservation and production in commodity agriculture offers significant challenges and opportunities for resource managers worldwide. The adoption of better management practices at farm and landscape-scales can significantly limit biodiversity threats posed by agriculture and generate valuable co-benefits for both production and rural livelihoods.

 

From 2007-2013, EcoAgriculture Partners served as the monitoring and evaluation unit of the BACP, a grant facility investing in the transformation of international palm oil, soy and cocoa markets to reduce threats posed by agriculture to biodiversity of global significance. In total, BACP invested more than $7M in 21 lead organizations working in nine countries to address critical barriers and information gaps to the adoption of better management practices in commodities landscapes.

Targeting three major groups of market actors - producers, traders and purchasers, and financial institutions - BACP aimed to create an enabling environment that generates incentives for greater supply, demand, and financing of biodiversity-friendly agricultural commodities, working closely with international commodity roundtable initiatives in soy and palm oil, and multi-stakeholder initiatives in cocoa.

 

EcoAgriculture Partners has tried to capture the insights gained from this program in a new report just released titled, Transforming Markets for Conservation. This report shares key project insights from this six-year program related to improving the biodiversity and livelihood benefits of commodity production through managing high conservation values, working with smallholders, training and capacity building and impact assessment. The report was debuted at a meeting held at the International Finance Corporation, with participation from the heads of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Round Table for Responsible Soy (RTRS), and World Cocoa Foundation (WCF). Discussion at the meeting focused on the next steps needed to scale sustainability in agricultural commodities.

 

While in recent years, voluntary sustainability standards and certification have arisen as formidable market-based mechanisms for mainstreaming biodiversity in production landscapes, there is still much work to do. Reaching the full potential of voluntary sustainability standards requires targeted interventions and investments that generate robust evidence of impact at multiple scales and that drive market demand while removing barriers to sustainable production. The report offers value chain stakeholders seven recommendations that build on the insights of BACP-funded projects. 

 

Photo by Raffaela Kozar/EcoAgriculture Partners
Scaling Up African Leadership in Monitoring and Evaluation
 
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is essential to track and assess the impact of sustainable land management (SLM) programs. SLM works across sectors, so leaders must coordinate information from multiple partners in managing extensive M&E systems. At the farm level, M&E systems can highlight effective practices but their implementation is challenging for any leader. At the landscape level, the benefits scale up but so do the challenges.

 

TerrAfrica, a partnership that supports innovative solutions to sustain landscapes, has set out to address these challenges across its 24-country membership. TerrAfrica is working to harmonize M&E systems across regions and provide SLM leaders with the knowledge and support they need to successfully implement these systems. To this end, TerrAfrica is providing courses and training materials to leaders who can then train others in effective M&E leadership.

 

In partnership with TerrAfrica, EcoAgriculture Partners recently teamed up with the Environmental Resources Management Center for Sustainable Development (ERMCSD) to provide one of these courses, a Regional Leadership Course on Monitoring and Evaluation for Sustainable Land Management in Mekelle, Ethiopia. The objective of the course was to improve the leadership capacities of M&E specialists in SLM projects to practice M&E in ways that engage multiple partners in sharing information across programs, jurisdictions, regions, and countries.

 

The five-day course was conducted by Louise Buck and Raffaela Kozar of EcoAgriculture Partners, and John Recha and Ayal Desalegn of ERMCSD. Nearly 30 SLM and M&E specialists from 12 African countries participated, speaking French and English. The course was organized around a curriculum built in collaboration with TerrAfrica, and focused on sharing and building upon the experiences of the leaders in attendance to address challenges and solutions. Participants discussed how traditional African leadership values, told through proverbs, reflect modern SLM leadership values such as collaborative problem solving, cross-sectoral priority setting, role delegation, partnership management. A day-long field trip brought participants to an Ethiopian watershed where participatory SLM and M&E are proving effective, and where EcoAgriculture Partners recently field tested a ground based photo-monitoring tool.

 

TerrAfrica used the event to gain input from participants toward consolidating a framework document for harmonizing pan-African SLM M&E systems. In the spirit of scaling up, EcoAgriculture Partners, ERMCSD, and TerrAfrica are now working to turn the course curriculum into a training manual to be used by leaders across TerrAfrica's member countries. 

 

Setting the Groundwork for Participatory Policy in Kenya  
 
This month, EcoAgriculture's Seth Shames and Krista Heiner visited four landscapes in Kenya - Embu, Lari, Lake Naivasha and Bungoma. While there, they facilitated multi-day workshops that included a wide range of stakeholders and policy makers to discuss how public policies can better support integrated landscape management in Kenya, as part of an ongoing participatory policymaking process.

As a first step, together with our partners at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Seth and Krista facilitated dialogues among civil society practitioners, private sector representatives and officials from many levels of government in each of the sites to collectively identify landscape issues, discuss current innovations and challenges, and deliberate on how national and sub-national government policies and actions could better support this innovative landscape work. In addition, each landscape provided feedback about what they would like to share and learn from other landscapes in Kenya and around the world as part of  the Landscape for People, Food and Nature's learning landscape network.

 

This information, along with interviews from national-level policy makers in Kenya, will be compiled and synthesized in preparation for a national-level policy dialogue. Set to take place in late June in Nairobi, representatives from these landscapes and key national- and county-level policy makers will come together to discuss the findings and develop actionable steps to improve the policy framework for integrated landscape management at both the national and sub-national levels in Kenya.

 

Look for upcoming blog posts on the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Blog from both Seth and Krista about their first-hand accounts of the participatory policy making process for integrated landscape management across these diverse Kenyan landscapes.

   

Announcing New EcoAgriculture Fellow, John Recha of ERMCSD
 
We are pleased to announce that John Recha has joined the EcoAgriculture Partners team as our new EcoAgriculture Fellow. Recha is based at the Environmental Resources Management Center for Sustainable Development (ERMCSD) in Nairobi, Kenya. As a fellow, he will help us further expand our programs in East Africa.  
 

Dr. Recha is a land management and climate change scientist, specializing in East Africa. In 2004, he founded the ERMCSD and now serves on its board. Since 2012, he has been involved in the collaboration of the ERMCSD with EcoAgriculture Partners. He currently serves as a researcher in the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) in Kenya. While studying for his PhD at Cornell University, Recha served as a research fellow at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) from 2007-2011. Prior to that, he worked as a research technician with the World Agroforestry Centre, coordinating soil fertility management research in western Kenya. He has worked with environmental non-governmental organizations, promoting climate smart agriculture for improving rural livelihoods, and has written articles on sustainable land management and hydrology in the tropics. He has a Masters in Soil Science and Land Management (Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania), and Bachelors in Agriculture (University of Nairobi, Kenya).

 

With his expertise in sustainable land management and established connection with EcoAgriculture Partners, we know Dr. Recha will be a great addition to the EcoAgriculture Partners team. Over the coming months John will have many opportunities to meet and collaborate with our partners. Please join us in welcoming John aboard!

 

From the Blog: Sustainable agriculture land management is paying off for Kenyan farmers
 
By Margie Miller, Communications Associate
 
Farmers are wearing a lot of hats these days, as they try to increase yields, reduce soil degradation, adapt to climate change, and mitigate it at the same time. EcoAgriculture Partners, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS), and the Swedish NGO Vi Agroforestry are working together to help farmers in Kenya receive additional funding for these noble efforts via the carbon market. 
 

A few years ago, the World Bank BioCarbon Fund developed a methodology to quantify and give credit for the greenhouse gas benefits of sustainable agricultural land management (SALM) practices. The BioCarbon Fund, which mobilizes finance to help develop projects that sequester or conserve carbon in agro-ecosystems, was one of the first funds to focus on emission reductions from land use, land-use change and forestry sector.

 

In late 2011, the BioCarbon Fund methodology for SALMs was approved for use by the Verified Carbon Standard, a voluntary greenhouse gas reduction program. To pilot test the new methodology, the World Bank partnered with the Swedish NGO Swedish Cooperative Center-Vi Agroforestry to create the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project. Vi Agroforestry, which was already actively training local farmers in SALM practices, planned to use the methodology to measure and give credit for greenhouse gas benefits, providing an additional source of revenue for farmers that incentivized sustainable practices.

 
Continue Reading on the blog...

 


Congratulations to LI-BIRD, ReSource Award Winner

Each year, the Swiss Re Foundation awards the ReSource Award for Sustainable Watershed Management to acknowledge leadership in the implementation of the principles of sustainability watershed management projects. $150,000 USD is given to a worthy project or organization who best exemplifies this goal to the judges.

 

This year, EcoAgriculture Partners' friend and collaborator Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD) has been announced as the winner of the ReSource Award for their project "Mobilizing local institutions for sustainable management of watershed services in Nepal." It was selected from 273 projects in a three-stage evaluation process. We would like particularly to congratulate former EcoAgriculture Partners program associate Sajal Sthapit, who now works for LI-BIRD on the project.

 

LI-BIRD is a NGO based in Pokhara, Nepal, which aims to improve the livelihoods of marginalized farmers by capitalizing on local initiatives for sustainable management of renewable natural resources. It promotes local innovations and demonstrates working models with high scale-up potential. Furthermore, it contributes to the development of innovative approaches in biodiversity conservation, sustainable natural resources and watershed management.

 

Nominations are now open for the ReSource 2015 Award. Click here to learn more. 

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