Let’s take this further: Advancing the conversation on the private sector and landscapes

An upcoming Digital Summit hosted by the Global Landscapes Forum will bring together new voices from across Africa to discuss how to engage the private sector in integrated landscape management (ILM).

The summit builds on an engaging discussion forum on the topic at the Global Landscapes Forum in Nairobi in August this year. Sharing cases from new geographies, and from both private sector and the landscape partnership convener perspectives, it aims to further explore the benefits – and identify and address some of the challenges – of working across sectors to build sustainable solutions at the landscape scale.

This post originally appeared on Landscape News.

One key observation in the Nairobi discussion forum – organized by the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative, with support from the Government of the Netherlands – was that value chain approaches are not sufficient to address sustainability issues, and integrated landscape approaches are required. Julius Rono of the Solidaridad Network shared about his organization’s work helping translate the economic benefits of ILM to people in the private sector. Solidaridad used to work mainly on certification processes within supply chains, but soon realized that a whole-landscape approach made much more sense.

For Mao Amis, who runs the South Africa-based think tank African Centre for a Green Economy and is a panelist in the upcoming summit, the idea resonates. “If we’re to protect natural capital, we have to balance the various competing demands on the landscape,” he says. “So we need to take a systems approach.”

Another point from the Nairobi discussion was that landscape management can be a de-risking strategy for financing development. “A number of multinationals have already had to close plants in some areas because of water scarcity,” said Caroline van Leenders of the Dutch Enterprise Agency. “And if you’re an investor and have your money in those kinds of projects, then you have a problem. So it makes sense for these institutions to start investing in solutions.”

Amis notes that these risks for businesses and investors may also be reputational, and cites the example of flower farming in Kenya: “When consumers in Europe started asking questions about where their flowers are coming from,” he says, “all of a sudden companies were under scrutiny about their labor practices and relationship with natural resources.”

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