Landscapes in Practice: Institutionalization

Landscapes in Practice is a new series of practitioner guides to facilitate implementation of the six core dimensions of lntegrated Landscape Management (ILM). This paper, the first in the series, discusses the importance of institutionalization and provides an eight-step strategy to achieving it.

With landscape “champions” in mind, the authors set out to provide an overview of the state of the knowledge, intended to focus your thoughts and catalyse adaptive on-the-ground action.

Who are these champions? They’re the in-the-field practioners as well as all those who advocate for landscape approaches. If that’s you, read on for a summary of the paper. Better yet: download the full 12pp PDF.

Key messages

If the impact of a landscape intervention is to endure, effective ‘institutionalization’ is needed.

  • This can be achieved by embedding participatory, adaptive and cross-sectoral planning and decision-making processes in existing institutions and systems.
  • Institutionalization can strengthen a landscape initiative’s viability, continuity and resilience to disruption and political shifts. Plus it can open new avenues for influencing sustainable development policy and programming.
  • Too little capacity, too few resources and too much emphasis on delivering short term, quantifiable impacts deter ‘landscape champions’ from effectively investing in institutionalization. As a result, there is a higher risk of their landscape initiatives losing momentum, especially when thought of only as ‘projects’.
  • Based on experience gained monitoring and implementing landscapes initiatives, we propose an eight-step strategy that can landscape champions to more effectively institutionalize a landscape approach.

An ILM institutionalization strategy

The iterative eight-step strategy proposed by the authors on behalf of the Central Component of the Landscapes For Our Future programme is designed to harness the benefits of institutionalization while addressing barriers. It is contingent on effective implementation of other ILM dimensions and draws from firsthand implementation and evaluation experiences of development projects adopting landscape and jurisdictional approaches.

Champions can tailor this strategy by combining, skipping, or adjusting the sequence of steps to suit their specific context and needs.

  1. Anticipate: It is crucial to anticipate implementation barriers both within and beyond the landscape. This requires a participatory appraisal that helps identify strategic stakeholders and the structures, processes and capacities the initiative should aim to influence or build, based on the initiative’s common vision.
  2. Involve: Strategic stakeholders identified in Step 1 should be actively engaged early in the initiative’s relevant co-creation events and multi-stakeholder processes.
  3. Plan: Co-develop an institutionalization strategy with project (boundary) partners that addresses the challenges, builds synergies, and capitalizes on the opportunities identified in Step 1.
  4. Align: Align landscape initiatives with relevant internal and external policies, plans, strategies and institutional structures.
  5. Document: Systematically document successes, barriers and failures of the landscape initiative, particularly in relation to adoption, replication and scaling of landscape initiatives and associated solutions.
  6. Communicate: Strengthen engagement and awareness among both internal and external stakeholders by communicating initiatives’ progress, documented achievements, lessons learned and results.
  7. Learn: Facilitate vertical and horizontal learning by establishing spaces for stakeholders to exchange experiences and knowledge across scales and between sectors and societal domains.
  8. Influence: Once steps 1-7 have been completed, landscape stakeholders are better positioned to influence enabling environments.

Download the full paper for detail on each of these eight steps, as well as how to address barriers and leverage existing political commitments.

Let’s talk power!

We invite you to settle in amongst the din of the cicadas and eavesdrop on the conversation as we chat about that 'dirty' word: power.

When our Central Component gathered in Northern Kenya recently for a team workshop, there were fascinating conversations to be had. One dawn morning, Valentina Robiglio grabbed a coffee and sat down with her colleagues Kim Geheb and Peter Cronkleton for a discussion on a topic that rears its head all the time but is very rarely addressed directly.

Valentina: So, in these past days we have talked a lot about ILM, landscape management and landscape approaches, and we talked about the six elements that are important for ILM, but we haven’t really touched on an underlying element that we know is very important, that is power. Can you tell us more?

Kim: Landscapes are socially produced. They emerge as a consequence of human activity and human relations. And, of course, within human relations, power is a powerful characteristic of the relationships between people. And so we understand that power finds its way into our understanding of landscapes. In fact, I often suspect that power – and the power relations between stakeholders within a landscape – defines the landscape. It’s a very dominant characteristic of how landscapes look, their condition and how, ultimately, they’re governed and managed.

In fact, I often suspect that power – and the power relations between stakeholders within a landscape – defines the landscape. It’s a very dominant characteristic of how landscapes look, their condition and how, ultimately, they’re governed and managed.

Kim Geheb

Valentina: So, when you think of power in this way, then at the relationship that stakeholders might have through formal and informal institutions, is there a way to regulate or influence power relationships in a landscape in order to achieve the outcome?

Kim: We very rarely like to talk about power. It’s kind of a dirty word and yet it’s such a prominent feature of how we can actually characterize a landscape. I think that a lot of the approaches that we use within the context of ILM are implicitly about managing power relations. For example, we talk about inclusivity. That’s because we recognize that there’s a group of people within the landscape who are not included in the power landscape. So we try to manage that. When we use multi-stakeholder fora, for example, that’s also another way we try to ensure that power is better distributed amongst participants in a landscape. Very often the kinds of capacity building that we provide are intended to empower people”.

We very rarely like to talk about power. It’s kind of a dirty word and yet it’s such a prominent feature of how we can actually characterize a landscape.

Kim Geheb

Peter: I think you made a good point the other day when you were talking about proponents of ILM projects, whether they’re NGOs or other types of actor: they are not conscious of their own power and so they don’t see their ability to convene people, their ability to interact with people at different levels of power within a landscape. They underestimate how important power is because they’re coming in as a powerful actor in a landscape. And so I think it was a good point when we were talking about not being more conscious of the power dynamics, and how an external facilitator plays into that dynamic, but being conscious of themselves as a broker, they’re trying to bridge these gulfs between different people, realizing that when they’re out of the system, things could necessarily snap back into their original form. So, they need to take that into account: how do you change power dynamics and not put people in jeopardy, not create conflicts, not create other types of problems that were unintended at the start.

Kim: Spot on. So we think that when it comes to project formulation, a really critical part is how we understand our intervention. I mean, even the word “intervention” has power connotations, and so our intervention into a landscape has to be accompanied by a critical self-reflection of our power as technical people, as highly educated people, as people who potentially come from other cultures: how that’s going to influence power dynamics within a landscape. That becomes really very, very critical.

Valentina: I was thinking, we are now talking about power in general, but then it’s power to do what? And maybe, based on your experience and on the initiatives that we are looking at in the project, could you give some examples? I mean, what are the key dimensions of power and the key elements of power, and to do what, that count in a landscape when we talk about multi stakeholders?

Kim: I mean there’s a hard line, of course, with power. And so for a lot of our landscapes, we have to deal with violent conflict, which is kind of like the ultimate form of oppressive power. We see this in, for example, our Papua New Guinea landscape. We see this in our Burkina Faso landscape. The landscape that we share between Chad and the Central African Republic also. This is a key aspect of trying to implement ILM in these contexts. So that’s one part of it. But I also think that, when we talk about ILM, we have to really draw attention to is that the first word in ILM is ‘integration,’ which I think is very much a power statement. Often, the highest form of integration is collaboration, but there are powerful actors that prevent collaboration and get in the way of collaboration, and so power then becomes a significant facet that we have to pay attention to if we want integration. That then becomes central to our thinking about how we engage with stakeholders and the governance systems that then emerge out of that collaboration.

The first word of ILM is ‘integration’, and I think that integration is very much a power statement.

Kim Geheb

Peter: It’s also important to think about the sources of power. So, you might have people that are economically powerful. You have political power. There are other kinds of social power that give people rights and obligations within a landscape that influence how people interact. There are formal sources of power and informal sources of power, customary rules, traditions that shape how people are working. But also, in some of the landscapes we’re working in where there are illicit activities, the issue is actually the lack of power of some key stakeholders. Maybe you’re in a frontier area where governments don’t have a strong presence and because of that, for example, cross border drug trafficking influences how people interact in a landscape. It could either be that the government is absent, so these actors are in the landscape, or they’ve been co-opted somehow and that the power comes not just from the economic power of these illicit actors but also the threat of violence. And so, you have to be aware when you’re working in these landscapes that you’re not putting people in jeopardy when you leave because you’ve encouraged them to exert their rights or to stand their ground.

Valentina: I think this is very important because often we have the perception or there is this assumption that when you talk about the state or ‘el estado’ there is power. But actually, in our analysis, often it is the fragility of the state that generates and often the public authors can generate it. So it’s very interesting. And then what is the power that ILM practitioners have? So when they start intervening in a landscape, engaging with stakeholders, of course they come from an institution with a name, but what is the type of power that they have to exert? The type of power they have when they start and the type of power they have to assert in order to build that constructive dynamic. What do you think? How would you describe that problem?

Kim: I think it’s profound, and an intervention has to be self-aware of the power that they bring to a landscape, because it’s basically a power landscape. Fundamentally, when we talk about an ILM success story, it’s because power relations between actors have been reconfigured in positive ways. And so a lot of the power that an intervention can bring in an ILM context is, for example, as Peter mentioned, convening power: the ability to assemble actors within the landscape. I think we often underestimate how difficult collaboration is to achieve, but our ability as an intervention to ‘weave’ collaboration has high potential. For example, if we bring into the equation mediators, or we bring into the equation facilitators – people who have the soft skills to enable or facilitate people to come together – this then becomes very important.

I also think that the power of voice is something that we pay very little attention to. A key characteristic of multi-stakeholder platforms is the emergence of voice. It is that people feel emboldened and sufficiently confident that they can say and speak out about the problems that they confront within the landscapes. Very often the kinds of things that they talk about are significant power imbalances within the landscape. So, hypothetically, let’s say we have a landscape where there’s a very large corporate actor. That immediately changes the power dynamic. It’s a massive presence that comes in, and so an intervention might have the resources to diminish that power, or to draw that actor into the landscape arrangement. To change this, the intervention might be able to take advantage of its own relationships with government for example. This is a very key thing: that a lot of interventions have these networks that local people don’t actually have. We also have to understand that at higher scales there are all kinds of power dynamics; that we might have NGOs that are disempowered vis-a-vis the state or the government. Peter touched on a very good point: that a lot of the contexts where we operate are under-regulated and the presence of the state is very low, so we’ve got a hole. In fact, it can potentially get meaningless to talk about formal power within these contexts. Everything is informal and that creates its own dynamic. As an intervention, we have a phenomenal ability to alter the power dynamic, and figuring out how we can do that means that we have to look squarely at power: how we can characterize it, understanding its dynamics and how it flows across the landscape, how it influences the landscape. Then we can position ourselves in such a way that we can change those dynamics in positive directions.

Peter: And one way we do that is we’re very conscious of the need to come in as neutral actors, or try to. You will hear the term ‘honest broker’: when we come in we’re able to go and talk to the owner of a timber company or visit a rancher and talk to them, whereas an environmental NGO may have difficulty building bridges with those actors because their environmental agenda is seen as a threat to the livelihoods of these other actors.

Often, we go in with a conservation agenda ourselves, but we try to put that in the background and come in with a message that in most landscapes there are opportunities to find common ground, common interests. You don’t necessarily have to focus directly on the main conflicts but you can find lots of other dynamics that can be fixed or resolved through negotiation, because people generally on all sides have interests in things like clean water, people like to avoid pollution where they live, obviously people want to avoid threats of violence… So there are opportunities.

Peter Conkleton

Valentina: I was going to ask about the power of an ILM practitioner. It is very much related to the capacity of the practitioner: the skill to convene, to build trust, power that comes from accountability and also the capacity to identify this ‘neutral space’, to be perceived as an owner. I think that’s very important, but then there might be a challenge when there are issues related to conflict, conservation, development… Very often we have very strong conservation institutions that come in managing the landscape, and maybe they already have a legacy and they have an agenda that’s very clear, so does that reduce their convening power as an ILM practitioner? Or what do they have to do in order to be perceived as more neutral and more able to really work across the different dimensions?

Very often we have very strong conservation institutions that come in managing the landscape, and maybe they already have a legacy and they have an agenda that’s very clear, so does that reduce their convening power as an ILM practitioner? Or what do they have to do in order to be perceived as more neutral and more able to really work across the different dimensions?

Valentina Robiglio

Peter: You sometimes hear people talk about fortress conservation: where it’s very top down, very much a command and control approach to conservation. And many environmental NGOs and governments have confronted the issue that they create enemies among local actors. The people that they need to convince that conservation, certain types of biodiversity or conservation of different landscapes is important, are seen as a threat by the government and those people see the technicians or employees of an NGO as threats. So you’ve seen a shift over recent decades to strategies like co-management where environmentalists try to identify sustainable livelihood options or alternatives that local people could still make a living, still feed their families, still have opportunities and not necessarily need to extract resources in an endangered forest or convert mangroves to other uses. Whatever the landscape is, it’s a challenge. It’s something that we’re still working with, but if there’s a general consensus that local people aren’t deriving benefits from biodiversity, it’s difficult to convince them without some other type of incentive that they should be collaborating.

Valentina: And I now have a question. If we think about that power, you mentioned people, institutions. We can think of power at the family level in men, women, youth. Can you make some examples of what would be the entry points to move all these levers in a nested way in the landscape, starting maybe from family and participation. How do you activate?

Kim: So in a sense, how do we locate? And I think that you touch on a really good point here, that the power is relative. You can’t have somebody all by themselves and then they’re powerful. It’s power over, power with, or power under. And so we get that immediately when two people or groups come together, the power surges – possibly in positive directions. Remember, power doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

Valentina: That’s why you want to empower.

Kim: Exactly, because characterizing the landscape in power terms then becomes extremely relevant, alright. And what I often find very exciting is that other methodologies, or indeed emerging ones, look at how we are able to characterize power within the landscape. I don’t want to get technical, but one of the methods that we’ve been playing around with is this technique called Net-mapping. It’s a stakeholder approach, so we identify who the stakeholders are, but really the key thing is to be able to characterize the relationships between the stakeholders. I often say that it’s the in-betweenness of things that is relevant. It’s not the individual stakeholders by themselves. Of course, we like them, they’re good people, but it’s the relationships that they share with others that is of consequence to the landscape.

Valentina: So, you focus on the arrows?

Kim: Yes.

Valentina: Okay.

Kim: And characterize that as power under, power over or power under. And then we can begin thinking about strategies with which to change those relationships. I also think that what becomes really key here is that when we characterize those relationships it allows us to see where our risks lie within the landscape. I mean, if you’ve got a single completely unaccountable actor in the landscape, then we have to think about how we are going to address this presence within our system. And that then becomes very important to the overall success of a project.

And I just wanted to touch on a final thing here: what has always been very surprising to me is that, when we do these Net-maps with individual projects, the projects very rarely locate themselves in the map, and this I find very interesting. I think maybe it’s because they feel modest and they don’t want to suggest that they have an unnatural presence within the landscape. But, equally, in the absence of them being located in the landscape, we don’t get a sense of what that project needs to be doing in terms of changing those different relationships between partners. Then, equally, what does the project need to do for itself in order to be successful? Which relationships does it need? Which relationships does it have to manage? Which relationships does it want to avoid? This is also a key thing.

And then we can begin thinking about strategies with which to change those relationships. I also think that what becomes really key here is that when we characterize those relationships it allows us to see where our risks lie within the landscape. I mean, if you’ve got a single completely unaccountable actor in the landscape, then we have to think about how we are going to address this presence within our system. And that then becomes very important to the overall success of a project

Kim Geheb

Valentina: I think that happens because practitioners come into a landscape and exercises like stakeholder mapping, Net-mapping, are considered like “let’s state a baseline.” So when you do a baseline, you want to be neutral. It has to be the picture of your landscape, so you don’t put yourself in the picture.

Kim: Because you’re painting, right?

Valentina: Right, absolutely. So I think that’s something that’s an important message. One thing that for me is very important is how do we understand because there are actors… We recently made an assessment of the gender work we did in Peru, where there are women who basically do not actively participate and don’t have much agency. So you, as an external actor, realize this huge gender gap but they don’t seem to be really aware of it, to the point that they’d say “no, but I don’t want to. I’m satisfied with my level of agency.” How do you intervene in a way that people might realize that they actually need to be empowered so that there has to be something?

Peter: We’ve been doing work on gender transformative approaches to conservation, to land tenure reform, different types of projects. And one of the mechanisms that we’ve found is very successful are simply exchanges where women can share their experiences, hear from others’ opportunities, particularly where women can interact with other women that have become leaders of organizations or enterprises. And they’ve reported to us that after going through these exchanges where they identify common ground, where they identify similar conflicts or challenges that they face and, hearing the experiences of how others have overcome those challenges, the women come out of those exchanges reporting greater confidence. More importantly, realizing that they already play those roles often in their communities, often behind closed doors. You know that women in some societies and some communities may not stand up publicly in a meeting and express their opinion, but they make sure their husband’s opinion expressed in public reflects their interests as well. But, when they start learning how other women have used strategies or come up with ways to start enterprises or organizations, those women start reflecting or talking to their neighbours, meeting with their daughters and talking about how they could take advantage of opportunities that they face, or that they could stake out positions for themselves within their community, within their association, that’s different. And one of the key aspects of gender transformative approaches is that you can’t change a power dynamic in a household or in a society without the involvement of men and women, so creating a situation where women might be empowered entails convincing men and boys that having women play a more active role in an enterprise or taking charge of an organization is in everyone’s benefit.

Valentina: So that, I think, is important because he’s also convincing the others that the actor should have more power. That reminds me of when we played that game during the Global Summit on the oil palm. And I think that that was a useful approach to make groups understand the different forms of power and the interplay of it. What are things gained or what are the other approaches that can be used to make people realize? We have Net-mapping; we have games to realize what the power dynamics are, how they interplay over time, and how do you make people realize that they can be changed? What can ILM practitioners do?

Kim: When Peter was talking just now, one of the things that occurred to me, of course, is that there are many different species of power. And how that then articulates itself is often something that we don’t necessarily realize when we walk into a situation. With our training and our experience, we’re kind of coached to look for particular types of power without necessarily observing other types.

Valentina: The dynamic is in the interplay.

Kim: Exactly. So, of course, we can’t make anybody do anything. That’s not our role ever, but it’s interesting to me that when we talk about the creation of opportunity, it’s possible to couch that in power terms: like creating new spaces where people feel that they can exercise their power. They can then move into that opportunity if they choose to do so. Multi-stakeholder fora can be these spaces, and I think we can then use these as a way of supporting people to explore what power they do have and what opportunities the projects are then bringing that may empower them in ways that then yield landscape level outcomes.

We’re now sitting in a great example of an immense power dynamic here in Northern Kenya. This is the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. As a conservancy we can understand the power of this place in terms of, for example, land tenure. Land tenure is something that people in CIFOR-ICRAF pay a lot of attention to: the power of limiting the ability of people to access these resources here. And as we go out into this landscape, we focus very much on the wild animals within it, but the power is in the grass. It is the fodder that is out there. It is grass that lies at the centre of tensions between the large, Northern Kenyan, wildlife conservancies and the nomads and livestock keepers outside the conservancies. When tensions between them flare, it is about grass. So then, in our awareness of that relation, how can we ameliorate it? Our hosts here, the Northern Rangelands Trust, they recognize this and a big part of their interventions together with communities in this landscape is specifically looking at pasture. How can we improve pasture? How can we make sure that pasture is available during the dry season? This is an area very affected by climate change, so it’s difficult to predict what the climate or weather is going to be over the course of the year. How, under those circumstances, can we make sure that there is adequate fodder for the millions of cattle and goats that are out there, and which then support everybody’s livelihoods? These kinds of questions have everything to do with power.How, under those circumstances, can we make sure that there is adequate fodder for the millions of cattle and goats that are out there, and which then support everybody’s livelihoods? That then becomes an opportunity, so we need to begin thinking about these sorts of managerial interventions as power opportunities.

Valentina: I think you just mentioned an important thing. It’s not strictly related to power, but you are kind of saying that, in a landscape where, for example, you have all these objectives of conservation and the issue is conflicts and friction about grass, the solution can be outside. So you might say that your landscape is this, and the easiest thing is to define a system in relation to what we see here, but actually the solution is intervening on land that is outside the geographical boundaries of this area. And that’s really system thinking. I intervene in other areas, generate resources outside so that people reduce pressure on this. And I think that’s very important to understand, not only in terms of power dynamics or its systems.

Kim: But it’s also accountable. I mean an organization like NRT has a very large number of constituents spread all the way across Northern Kenya, which includes other wildlife conservancies as well as nomadic communities. So, here there’s a dynamic conversation around how to deal with this political grass: some want to allow neighbouring communities onto the conservancy provided they follow guidelines. They don’t want, of course, the land to be completely denuded of its vegetation cover. Other would rather only allow community cattle onto their land only when circumstances are severe – like during drought. Others still would rather not allow nomads onto their land ever.

This text has been edited for clarity and differs slightly from the original recording.

Landscapes in Practice: Our guides for landscape champions

The Central Component is tasked with synthesizing and disseminating knowledge and lessons from Landscapes For Our Future's 22 projects. Our new series of practitioner guides aims to do just that in order to facilitate implementation of what we propose are the six core dimensions or elements of landscape approaches.

Our learning missions to almost all of the projects, lengthy discussions and communications with project implementors on the ground and – most significantly – our Global Summit and Learning Exchange, where representatives of 18 of the 22 projects met and workshopped and compared notes and shared experiences, have delivered a significant amount of data and insight. Add to that the substantial volume of academic research on landscape approaches by our team, our colleagues at CIFOR-ICRAF and others in the scientific community, and it’s obvious there’s a vast amount of learning to synthesize.

Landscape champions are those everyday heroes applying Integrated Landscape Management in places and spaces around the globe, and the researchers, strategizers, policy makers and funders who advocate for the process.

Our practitioner guides are intended as concise summaries for busy people. We present the state of the knowledge on each subject in a simple, accessible way so that landscape champions can focus on the processes at the heart of Integrated Landscape Management.

In this series:

An ILM Overviewread the summary or download the paper

Institutionalizationread the summary or download the paper

Adaptive and Collaborative Management – coming soon

Stakeholder identification – coming soon

Multi-Stakeholder Fora – due in 2025

Common Vision – due in 2025

Newsletter #6 | December 2023

Our end-of-year newsletter reflects some of the highlights and leading lights of our Global Summit.

Amazing. Engaging. Enriching. Inspiring. Integrated. Uplifting…

That’s participants describing our recent Global Summit and Knowledge Exchange that brought together representatives of most of the 22 Landscapes For Our Future projects around the globe. Here’s a glimpse of what you might have missed. (With so much more in store for 2024.)

PLUS: Talk to us about communities of practice: What? When? How? Who?

Keep in mind the purpose of the Landscapes For Our Future progamme, which is – through these 22 pilot projects – to guide the EU Delegations and partners on how to implement ILM. 

Bernard Crabbé, Head of Environment Mainstreaming and Circular Economy Sector at the European Commission DG INT
Fun pics, right? View plenty more photos from the Summit in our image archive.

We are committed to change leadership in the landscapes arena. We seek opportunities to embed landscape approaches within global and national institutions and constantly strive to deepen our understanding of how this can be achieved effectively.

Eliane Ubalijoro, CEO, CIFOR-ICRAF, speaking at the opening of the Summit


ILM Communication and the Art of Storytelling

Patricia Roche from our Cerrado Biome project in Brazil and Paraguay had us captivated with her tales of golden grass, a lady’s purse, and the water wealth of her treeless landscape.

As a kid, did you ever play the “broken telephone” game? The one where you whisper something to one person who whispers it to the next and so on until the story comes back to you with very different details. Or, more often than not, no details at all.

Isn’t that what so often ends of up happening when we put the facts about our worthy projects out into the world? Do we inspire people to tell our stories? And when they do, what information do they convey to the next and the next and the next listeners?

At the Summit, we challenged the participants to tell a story about their landscape – something that would hold listeners’ attention and capture their imaginations. As props, all they had was an art piece we collaborated on. No PowerPoint, no text – just artful storytelling. The results were magical! It turns out we have so many talented storytellers amongst us.


Pros at play

Khalil Walji and Freidah Wanda playing at some serious negotiations.

The Summit brought together 50+ ILM practitioners to explore the inner workings of an integrated approach to landscapes management. But how best to bring everyone to a common understanding of these principles?  

A game, of course!  

Claude Garcia’s strategy game simulated the oil palm supply chain in Cameroon, and participants played their parts with aplomb. Taking on  various designated stakeholder roles helped us all to better understand the effects of decisions, values, and choices on ecosystems. Serious learning. But so much laughter too.  

Central Component Deputy Co-ordinator Khalil Walji summed up the session so well on his social media, and we shared his wisdom on our Knowledge Hub.


Communities of Practice, sure. But how? What? When? Where?

community of practice is a group of people who “share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.”

This idea of developing such groups emerged strongly during the Summit. We all agreed they’d be useful. But do we agree on what they are and how we want to run them? Please guide us on what you’d like created and how you’d like to be involved by answering 5 quick questions in our survey.

Wishing you a wonderful festive season and looking forward to building on our Integrated Landscape Management successes and learnings together in 2024!   — Your Central Component team

End with the begin in mind

One landscape, two jurisdictions and a visionary project that ends at the beginning: the GML project closes with resource-based working groups in Ghana’s Atiwa landscape holding action plans in their hands and empathy in their hearts.

It’s a hot and humid June day in Kade and the atmosphere is even warmer: smiles and banter, colourful clothing and demonstrative greeting. There’s a palpable sense of achievement and mutual congratulation. And rightfully so: today is the closing ceremony for an innovative three-year project that has proved its premise and its worth. 

The EU-funded Governing Multifunctional Landscapes (GML) has been working in Eastern Ghana’s Atiwa landscape to develop a jurisdictional approach that can decouple agricultural expansion from deforestation. “Successful experiences around the world show that jurisdictional approaches can reconcile what might often be seen as conflicting objectives,” explains George Schoneveld, a principal scientist with CIFOR-ICRAF. “Enhancing production on existing farmland, conserving natural resources and creating value for smallholders: these can all be achieved if all stakeholders within a jurisdiction are brought together.”

That all sounds excellent, but let’s take a step back: what is a jurisdictional approach?

The “jurisdictional approach” is a method of landscape governance that focuses on building multi-stakeholder collaboration, negotiation and decision-making within whole administrative boundaries. It brings together the different private, public and civil society actors that are present in a particular landscape, to collaborate toward conservation, supply chain sustainability and green development goals.

GML has convened multi-stakeholder platforms in the form of resource-based working groups focused on deforestation-risk commodities (cocoa, oil palm, rubber and mining reclamation) in two jurisdictions adjoining the Atiwa Range Forest Reserves in south-eastern Ghana to build the business case and action pathways for climate-smart, forest-friendly, socially inclusive development. 

The overall goal of each of these is to come up with a ‘Landscape Development Strategy’ for its sector that aligns with the priorities of the local authorities and multi-stakeholders in the landscape and wholly owned by local governments, traditional leaders, smallholder farmers, agricultural producers, forest users, companies and other value and supply chain actors. 

Back to Kade, the capital of Kwaebibirem Municipality, where those varied stakeholders are all gathered and greeting each other so warmly. The opening address of this closing ceremony sets the tone for the speeches that will follow, outlining the successes and – with frankness and humility – the lessons learned through the GML processes. Speaking on behalf of the Municipal Chief Executive for Kwaebibirem, Seth Antwi Boasiako, Municipal Coordinating Director Fred Owusu Akowuah notes how the project has created a platform to bring actors in each value chain together to discuss issues that affect their operations. 

“This has afforded the Assembly with the opportunity to better understand some of the cross-cutting issues,” he notes candidly, highlighting the significant and far-reaching outcomes of these insights: “Through this, we have updated our Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP) to be inclusive and clearly capture how tree crop value chains can be purposefully used as tools for rural development.

“With this knowledge base,” he continues, “the local economic committee of the Assembly has been strengthened and empowered to deal with issues cropping up in the tree crop farming sector. Most importantly, participation of the staff of the Assembly in GML activities has built our capacity to rethink development planning from the perspective of the landscape and environment within which we live.”

That’s when he mentions the map. “This is reinforced by the Participatory 3D Map we created and recently updated through the support and facilitation of CIFOR. The 3D Map helps us to better appreciate and communicate the issues of environmental degradation and the need for sustainable landscape development.”

The 3D map in question is mentioned by a number of the speakers that follow – each working group is given the opportunity to outline its lessons learned and the key points of the strategies they have now developed. The map is clearly a source of pride, and the process of its coming-into-being has been a notable catalyst to insight and cooperation. 

Testament to its importance is the fact that boxes of documents have been stacked into toppling towers, relegated to the edges of an adjoining room, to make space for this large relief sculpture that graphically portrays the landscape – from its forested mountains with their unique ecosystem, to its three major rivers that supply the capital city’s drinking water, to the new roads and infrastructure and, on the western fringes, the thriving agriculture scene in which large plantations run by international and Ghanaian companies coexist with smallholders and artisanal gold miners.

In an interview in that room later, Doctor Alfred Asuming Boakye of the Forest and Horticulture Crops Research Centre at the University of Ghana sweeps his arm across this colour-coded plaster of Paris rendition, with its strings and pins and sticky notes, and he speaks of empathy. Pointing to the various colours – the grey-painted representation of the built areas, the greens of the plantations and vegetation, and the jarring shades of the areas degraded by illegal mining – he marvels at the power of these various actors coming together to discuss their perspectives via the multi-stakeholder platforms. 

“But when we came together, we realised that there were things we may have missed. And actually, there were things we had missed. And so, they brought their perspectives on board and then we brought our perspectives on board and everybody brought theirs. And so, you have this comprehensive aspect with respect to challenges,” he says, still waving his hands across the 3D model’s comprehensive representation of the landscape. And that’s when he mentions the e-word. 

“If you don’t share your problems, you don’t get empathy. But once you share your problems and people understand where you are coming from, they appreciate it. And so, if there’s any kind of aid to help you, you will know that these people understand you very well and, based on that, will be able to provide the needed help. So, the empathy is very important, and this will come out as a result of these collaborations we have had.”

This empathy, he explains, has motivated the varied actors in the landscape to co-develop solutions and the theory of change that is the basis for the respective working groups’ strategies – the action pathways they are now justifiably proud to outline in that warm Kade room. Strategies they will take to potential donors so that, in the future, new development projects can be built around a common vision in which Ghana protects its forests while simultaneously ensuring farmers benefit from a booming agricultural sector.

Kwaebibirem Municipal Coordinating Director Fred Owusu Akowuah speaking on behalf of Municipal Chief Executive Seth Antwi Boasiako.

It’s this sustainability that the entire project is based on, in fact. Emily Gallagher, the project’s coordinator, points to the three-part-infinity symbol interweaving the words ‘ECONOMY’, ‘ECOLOGY’ and ‘EQUITY’ on the GML brochures and branding.

“Sustainability is like a three legged stool. And if any of the legs are weak, removed or ignored, the stool cannot stand for very long. So, for us, Economy is about increasing production on the farms for sustainable intensification, Ecology is about doing climate-smart agriculture and forest-friendly practices, and Equity is about improving benefits to local people.”

Emily Gallagher, senior scientist, CIFOR

ILM and the Art of Storytelling

As a kid, did you ever play the "broken telephone" game? The one in which you whisper something to one person who whispers it to the next and so on until a very different story comes back to you? At the Communications for ILM session during our Global Summit, we found the same result, though we're all no longer kids.

Why were we playing “broken telephone”? To illustrate what invariably ends of up happening when we put the facts about our worthy projects out into the world. In our marketing and communications, we tend to detail the fancy name of our project, and who its funders are, and we list the many impressive outputs we intend to produce… We use technical jargon and scientific language. But does the meaning carry across? Do we inspire people to tell our stories? And when they do, what information do they convey to the next and the next and the next listeners?

Participants at our communications workshop were challenged to tell a story about their landscape. Something that would hold listeners’ attention and capture their imaginations. Our location was an art gallery. As props, all they had was an art piece we had collaborated on. No PowerPoint, no text, just artful storytelling.

The results were magical! It turns out we have so many talented storytellers amongst us. Here are two of our favourites.

“Do you like my purse?”

Patricia Roche speaks about her project in the Cerrado of Brazil and Paraguay

Patricia Roche from our Cerrado Biome project in Brazil and Paraguay captured our attention with a question (and a sneaky little prop). The stylish, gold-hued bag over her shoulder, she explained, was made from golden grass in the landscape her project is working to protect.

“If you think about South America, I guess that you might think about the Amazon, right? But the Amazon is not the only important place in this whole continent. We have one that has five percent of the biodiversity of the world. Called the Cerrado, it is shared between Brazil and Paraguay. So now I’m representing the two countries, and we are working together to make people understand that this ecoregion exists, and that it is important.

“And what you can see here (she points to the picture of the woman collecting grass) is that it is not only  important for the livelihoods of the people, but if you look here (she sweeps her hand across the horizon on the art poster) you will see that there are not a lot of big trees, right?

“We are working to make people understand that the grasslands and the savannahs are also important. They are natural ecosystems that may not have a lot of trees, but have a lot of importance.”

“The richness of this eco-region is beneath. It is the water that it gives to the rest of the region of South America. So the water that I drink in Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, has a lot to with what the Cerrado provides.

patricia roche

“Close your eyes and I’ll tell you my dream”

Keo Samnang, from the Our Tonle Sap project in Cambodia, took an unexpected turn with his storytelling. Initially concerned about how to present his project without the use of PowerPoint, he aced his presentation by appealing to our imaginations as he had us imagine a father and son and the fate of the fish-filled landscape that was their home and source of livelihood.

“Imagine 50 years ago: the Tonle Sap region is rich in fish. One day a family – dad and son – go into the river by boat. It’s very rich in fish. The fish bite and are brought into the boat. 

That’s where the dream turns to a nightmare: enter the infamous Khmer Rouge: “After that, as you know, Cambodia has a war. So people are not allowed to go fishing. After about 10 years, the war is finished but the people have lost everything…” Samnang explains the downward spiral in which the government brought in revenue by leasing the land to the private sector, who depleted the natural resources further and further.

“One day, the people – the father and the son – go to the river to catch the fish, but they cannot get more fish. So they call for help to sustain their natural resources. The government and the funders and the NGOs come together to support them by creating a protected area and a community fishery for sustainable use. And at the same time, they also support livelihood activities by providing the poor with buffaloes, as well as technical expertise on rice growing and  eco-tourism.

“So the tourists come, foreigners come, and the money is used for community development, construction of toilets and school material supplies.

And 20 years later, everyone has a surprise: the fish are still alive and the trees are still alive. As for the people living in the area: their livelihoods are better and the tourists come from day to day. We have a green landscape with rich biodiversity and the people are happy.

Keo Samnang

Every poster tells a story.

Keep your eye on our social media for more highlights and the tales behind these. 😊

A methods toolbox for integrated landscape approaches

This chapter aims to give guidance for those working within integrated landscape approaches. It suggests key points for consideration to allow those involved to have a better understanding of the landscape context and dynamics.

Free multistakeholder collaboration course

This free course from Supporting Partnerships and Networks, is aimed at anyone who is involved in working within multistakeholder fora, where solutions are sought for complex sustainability problems.

Global Summit – the Virtual Version

The Landscapes For Our Future Global Summit & Knowledge Exchange is open only to those implementing the 22 projects in our programme, as well as the EU Delegations that support them. This is an in-person event, but a select number of VIPs are being invited to attend key sessions virtually.

Dear VIP 😊

The Landscapes For Our Future Global Summit in Kenya from 16 to 20 October will gather project teams from all regions of our programme to share lessons learned, focus on key capacity gaps and shine light on innovative solutions found across the programme. The event will explore the rich solutions and innovations on offer across the LFF programme in addressing the global climate and biodiversity crises through Integrated Landscape Management (ILM).

View the full agenda on the event page here.

This is a highly interactive, in-person event but a select number of VIPs are being invited to participate virtually in key sessions 🤫

Opening session

Monday 16 Oct 09:00 AM Nairobi / 06:00 AM GMT / 08:00 AM Brussels

Passcode: 286519

Meeting ID: 851 6171 0214

The Future of ILM – Strategic Exchange with the European Commission

Thursday 19 Oct 03:30 PM Nairobi / 01:30 PM GMT / 02:30 PM Brussels

Meeting ID: 823 9617 5357

Passcode: 883951

Net-maps and vision in PNG

Stakeholder identification and development of a common vision: on a learning mission to Papua New Guinea, our Central Component Coordinator highlights two of the six critical dimensions of Integrated Landscape Management.

The Strengthening Integrated Sustainable Landscape Management (SISLaM) project in Papua New Guinea, lead by the UNDP’s Sam Moko, recently hosted our programme’s Central Component Coordinator, Kim Geheb, on a learning visit to see how the six critical dimensions of ILM could be further implemented.

As part of this process, the SISLaM team organised a workshop, inviting more than 30 stakeholders to participate. Kim introduced ‘Net-Mapping’, which was employed to identify the stakeholders’ relevance to the project, the relationships between them, and the influence they can marshal to enable the project to achieve its vision.

Net-Mapping in action at the workshop.

This process drew upon the SISLaM project’s goals to establish a defined project vision:

Because of the project, Enga Province’s sustainable and inclusive economic development was increased when the impacts of climate change were mitigated, and its people adapted; the food and nutrition security of its people was strengthened; and its biodiversity, land and forests were conserved, sustainably used and restored.

SISLaM Project vision.

Because of the large number of stakeholders at the workshop, participants were divided into two groups. They started by identifying who they thought was the most influential stakeholder at present and awarded that stakeholder 10 points. Other stakeholders were then identified and scored relative to the first stakeholder group. When they had completed this exercise, they then assessed scores for stakeholders in the future, thinking about whether they believed scores should increase or decrease in order for the project to achieve its vision. The result from one of the teams is shown below.

Kim explained that “there are many institutions with relatively high contemporary scores. In other words, SISLaM sees multiple actors as currently very important to fulfilling the project’s vision at present. This speaks to the importance of creating a platform where these actors can be convened, where dialogue can happen, and integration occur. There are some actors that have lower contemporary scores than future desired scores. This suggests that the project needs these agencies to increase their influence if its vision is to be achieved. It also suggests that the project needs to work out strategies for how the influence of these agencies can be increased.”

The Net-Map also displayed ‘risk communities’ which are those communities, such as landowners, who have been in conflict with each other. Enga Province is among several Papua New Guinean provinces which have suffered from communal violence since the national elections in 2022. While the project regarded their present influence to be medium (receiving a score of five), it would prefer this influence to be reduced to zero.

“It seems that traditional institutions remain very powerful – and therefore it makes sense to explore how the project can capitalise on these,” was Kim’s observation.

SISLaM also took Kim to visit three recipients of the project’s low-value grants. The first of these was a reforestation initiative being implemented by the Yakam Resort Cooperative Society. Emmanual Kilanda, the chairman of the cooperative, showed the team the work that is being done to reforest unstable slopes. As these slopes are extremely steep, planting trees on them has been a significant challenge, yet the cooperative has managed to plant 12,572 pine and kamare trees over 45 hectares since receiving the grant.

The SISLaM project includes components to help Engan farmers improve their value chain access and develop sustainable revenue streams. To illustrate this, the team visited the Wabag Coffee Growers Cooperative, where the initiative works to provide farmers with coffee seedlings. Kandes Nyia, the chairman of the cooperative, took the group to see the cooperative’s coffee nurseries and two farms. The grant has resulted in significant production increases, but the farmers struggle with an overabundance of coffee for their relatively localised markets. This situation highlights the need for Engan communities to extend and strengthen their value chains as they have a high-quality product and are located close to transport links.

Kandes Nyia, the chairman of the Wabag Coffee Growers’ Cooperative, explains his work from inside a coffee store.

Finally, the team journeyed to Laiagam District, where they were given an exuberant welcome by the Kinapulam Farmers’ Cooperative Society, which is working on producing sweet and English potato seed for local farmers. They visited several farms to understand the work of the cooperative and the results being achieved with the help of the grant. As in Wabag district, the low-value grant has resulted in significant production increases, however, ensuring the produce gets to market remains a challenge for these communities.

At the end of the visit, Kim reflected he was “particularly impressed by the implementation team.”

“Sam Moko provides very impressive leadership in a very challenging operating context, and I can see the strength of the team from its dynamic. The team is well selected and has a deep knowledge of Enga Province and its people. From what I have seen of the low-value grants, these have created real opportunities to communities. Of course, attention will need to be given to how recipient communities can market their outputs – and SISLaM can play a key role in convening this discussion so that communities can identify their own solutions and ensure this project’s long-term sustainability”.

The welcome from the Kinapulam community. Here, the leader of Ward 2 delivers his welcome speech.

This post is based on an article that was first published in UNDP’s July 2023 newsletter.