Mid-Term Evaluation of the Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes (ISLA) programme 2021-2025

Discover the latest insights on the effectiveness of landscape approaches in enhancing agricultural sustainability! According to CDP, 191 companies embraced Landscapes and jurisdictional approaches in 2022, with over 90 planning to engage in the next two years.

This shift signals a recognition that traditional project-based approaches fall short in tackling systemic challenges like deforestation.

IDH has championed landscape approaches, garnering invaluable insights. Recent KIT evaluations shed light on their impact in Mato Grosso, Grand Mbam, Cavally, Dembel-Shalla, West Kalimantan, Southwest Mau Forest, and Central Highlands.

Key Findings:

  1. Strengthening governance: Multi-stakeholder coalitions improve landscape governance, but long-term transition plans are crucial to ensuring sustainability of results.

According to the KIT report, the multi-stakeholder coalitions convened by IDH are improving landscape governance in most landscapes and countries where IDH operates. Capacity shortages of local governments constitute a challenge in many landscapes, but this has been effectively addressed by targeted capacity development and support to governments to create, monitor and/or enforce relevant legislation. As a result, landscapes now have new policies and regulatory frameworks, including Green Growth Plans, and better monitoring and enforcement of regulation. A key question, however, is how to ensure that coalitions continue operating overtime after IDH transitions out of its convenor (and funder) role in the landscape. These longer-term transition plans are still to be developed in several landscapes.

Local authorities take more actions in the landscape; such as meeting with the farmers to understand their needs, and are involved in discussions with other partners to detail the plans.

Stakeholder interviewed in the Central Highlands landscape, Vietnam

2. Private sector is critical to reaching scale: Success stories include Brazil’s calf traceability protocol to ensure deforestation-free sourcing and Vietnam’s increased volumes of sustainably produced coffee.


The role of the private sector in scaling sustainable solutions was apparent in two specific landscapes. In Mato Grosso, Brazil, the Sustainable Production of Calves program led to the development of a protocol that offers technological solutions for traceability in the beef supply chain. Adopting this traceability protocol rapidly expanded geographically: In September 2022, three of the leading meatpackers in the country set ambitious targets to achieve traceability of 1 million calves in the platform.

In the Central Highlands of Vietnam, the number of companies engaging in strengthening the operation capacity of cooperatives and intermediaries has increased dramatically through the landscape program, ensuring that 124 thousand MT of coffee are now responsibly produced in the area.

However, the scale-up effect of companies hasn’t materialised in all landscapes. In Côte d’Ivoire, for example, companies’ engagement in the Cavally region landscape program is still scattered, a missed opportunity for creating synergies and impact at scale. This issue is currently being addressed by the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, which aims to act as a catalyst in engaging companies in 6 landscapes across Côte d’Ivoire.

In comparison to previous interventions or programmes, the landscape approach allows for the expansion of interventions over a vast geographical area with the engagement of several stakeholders.

Stakeholder interviewed in the Central Highlands landscape, Vietnam

  3. Attracting funding: Landscape approaches can boost demand for sustainable commodities and attract investment.


Although new mechanisms to support the investment readiness of small and medium-sized companies are needed, landscape approaches marked significant successes, such as the USD 30 million 10-year loan of the &Green Fund in Brazil. However, this has been difficult in most landscapes due to a mismatch between the requirements of global investors and the companies active in ISLA landscapes. Companies active in production landscapes are often smaller in size and often face challenges in conforming to global eligibility requirements or in absorbing large-scale investments of global investors. Some solutions to overcome these are being piloted, such as the Investment Development Hub model in Colombia. It aims to demonstrate that with specialised and localised technical assistance alongside the right capital mix, more projects can become ready for investment, specifically in land degradation neutrality, while promoting sustainable agricultural production and benefiting smallholder farmers.

4. Deforestation Reduction


Deforestation reduction in the Southwest Mau Forest (Kenya) can be linked to landscape program activities. In contrast, causality links between landscape interventions and observed reduction in deforestation are being researched in other landscapes.

Explore in-depth details in the ISLA mid-term evaluation report.

Download Report here

View the slide show here