New resource: A look at IDH’s approach to building sustainable landscapes

How can we address deforestation, water depletion and other natural resource management issues while improving farmer and community livelihoods on a large scale? We must ensure that agricultural production is sustainable across entire regions – or landscapes. In a new resource, IDH explains its approach to building sustainable landscapes, illustrated with case studies from around the world.

(Download the Landscapes Information Brief: IDH’s approach to sustainable landscapes)


Due to rising global demand for responsibly produced agricultural commodities, businesses and governments in producing regions as well as in consuming markets are increasingly putting sustainability commitments on their agendas.

In practice, meeting these commitments has been a challenge. Certification schemes have made progress, but they are typically focused on improving practices within single farms or commodities. That makes it difficult to address water depletion, deforestation or other land resource management issues on a large scale.

We must think bigger to make a significant leap towards sustainability.Our vision: Production, Protection, Inclusion

IDH believes that agricultural production must be sustainable across entire regions, or landscapes. Partnerships are pivotal to our approach. We build coalitions that bring together key stakeholders in a landscape, including governments, businesses, farmers, communities, and civil society organizations.

Together, we develop sustainable land-use plans, regulatory frameworks and business models to achieve three interlinked goals: creating areas where commercial and food crops are grown sustainably (Production); forests and other natural resources are sustainably used and protected (Protection); and farmers’ and communities’ livelihoods are enhanced (Inclusion) – thereby contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) towards 2030.

The strength of this approach is that it addresses all three topics together.

We also ensure market demand for these sustainably produced goods, by connecting local producers to local and global traders, retailers and others in the supply chain. In this way, we prepare these landscapes for large-scale investments needed to realize a shared vision for sustainability.

We focus on landscapes in Asia, Africa, and South America that produce globally traded agricultural and forestry commodities such as cocoa, coffee, tea, beef, soy, timber, rubber, and palm oil.

We use three complementary processes to design and implement a landscape’s vision, strategy and action plan:

  1. Strengthening landscape and sector governance
  2. Connecting demand with supply of agricultural products in landscapes (for example, through our Verified Sourcing Areas model)
  3. Catalyzing new sources of finance

To find out more download the Landscapes Information Brief: IDH’s approach to sustainable landscapes here.

And you can view more resources on the Landscapes homepage.

Top photo: despositphotos