IDH Forum: Driving Business Solutions for Sustainable Landscapes

On February 9, over 100 participants from all over the globe gathered in Amsterdam to learn from each other how to build multi-stakeholder coalitions for sustainable landscapes where forests are protected and productivity enhanced. This was the first meeting of its kind since the IDH Landscape Program was initiated in 2014.

Participants included representatives from business, government, civil society, finance and research institutions from (e.g.) Indonesia, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Brazil, UK, US.

Through plenary and break out group thematic discussions, participants shared their experience and joined genuine discussions about common challenges and possible solutions to sustainable landscapes focused on the following learning questions:

  • How can the public and private sector best collaborate on designing and implementing landscape level forest protection and restoration plans?
  • How can Green Growth plans support the development of a long term vision and strategy for the landscape?
  • What are effective mechanisms to protect forests?
  • How can business contribute to forest protection, on and around concessions, or through their supply chains?
  • What sort of finance mechanisms can support PPI arrangements?
  • Some of the key best practices that were shared (a full report will follow shortly)

Government engagement is key to the success of landscape-level initiatives

  • Public-private landscape governance is a powerful tool for conserving forests, and ensuring that those around can sustain their livelihoods by other means. Engagement of government at the top level is critical to the success of collaboration.
  • In Liberia, the government has committed to conserving 30% of its forests by 2020. In the IDH Landscape program, it is working with palm oil companies and communities to work on a formula that benefits everyone: forests and people. This will help the government in creating jobs, economic development and hence, increased tax revenues, and will help protect forests that are critical to the country’s prosperity.
  • In Brazil, the Product-Conserve-Include strategy was initiated by the state of Mato Grosso, and represents a unified agenda of government, civil society, companies and investors to intensify cattle ranching to increase arable land for other agricultural uses. Through that it aims to reduce deforestation by 90%, restore 2.9 M ha of vegetation, increase agricultural production, and include smallholders and indigenous communities in low-emission rural development.
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Companies need to see a business case for investments

With their procurement -and investment power large companies like AMAGGI and Finlays are pivotal for sustainable  landscape governance to deliver on zero-deforestation and address complex issues.

  • For Finlays, the business case is linked to ecosystem services provided by forest, as it is for example clear that the decrease in forest covers is linked to an increase in pests in tea plantation. Finlays invests therefor in the sustainable landscape governance of the South West Mau Forest in Kenya
  • For AMAGGI, moving to a landscape approach can help connect sectors with each other (e.g. in Mato Grosso, timber and cattle issues indirectly affect soy) and deliver on zero-deforestation pledges.
  • For palm oil companies in Indonesia intensified land use by smallholders they source from, helps to meet their zero net deforestation commitments, and increases productivity and quality of smallholder production. A landscape approach can also help to deal with complex issues such as concession policies.

Involving communities in landscape governance

Businesses nor governments are as directly influenced by landscape governance as the local communities are.

  • In Liberia, IDH is working with the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and the palm oil company Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) to develop an outgrower investment model, based on free, informed and prior consent, that it is economically viable for communities, socially responsible by empowering the broader community, and environmentally. The outgrower scheme is based on the development of an agreement signed by both the palm oil company and the community, according to which the development of community oil palm plantations will be conditional to the protection of forest.

Read more about our landscape programs