Solutions and opportunities of integrated landscape approaches

Dr Cora van Oosten's keynote presentation at GLF Climate, alongside COP27, provided an insightful overview of the whole spectrum of what is contained within ILM.

Cora van Oosten is a hugely experienced landscape practitioner, with 25-years worth of practical, hands-on field experience: she and her team from Wageningen University, Netherlands work to manage, govern and restore landscapes in an economically viable and socially acceptable manner. That’s a pretty good grounding in the subject matter, right? 

Her presentation at GLF Climate, alongside COP27, (watch the video or read the transcript below) provided an insightful overview of the whole spectrum of what is contained within ILM. With characterful illustrations, she cuts to the chase on what needs doing – about getting out of informality, of harnessing the strengths and mobilizing the capabilities of the various actors. And of the bridging roles ILM can play. Integration, she made clear in her talk, is not just across sectors but across scales.

Keynote address transcript: Cora, in her own words

Landscapes For Our Future: Actually, I think this programme is managing to move away from solely focussing on the problems and the challenges that we face and is moving into the solutions and the opportunities that landscape approaches offer, to build ourselves a better future 

Landscapes For Our Future joins the restoration movement, and joins in the great movement that we currently have with the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, but it’s not joining the global hype, and steamrolling over the world with a message of global restoration…

It rather focuses on the landscapes themselves and zooms into the reality on the ground. So, it doesn’t look at landscapes from the top, but rather it moves from the bottom and looks through the lenses of landscapes, trying to turn the tide.

And that’s where I really start liking this programme. It aims to focus right on the landscapes. Here you see an image with the multiple functions of a landscape, water, biodiversity, habitation, agriculture, commercial agriculture and urbanization. 

But not only that. It also looks at the multiple actors that actually steer and drive these landscapes into the future. We see not only the producers but also the consumers who are connected through global trade movements. It connects also to the international commitments and conventions such as COP27. It looks at trade agreements with investors aiming to work with all these actors in a coherent manner. 

Trying to bring all these actors and different actors into a sort of institutional space, where they can share, discuss and even fight to try or align their multiple interests and come to some sort of a collective plan. And notice here also the youth and biodiversity is being taken on board.

So the plans, and of course the investments that are needed to fund these plans and make them a reality – and by investments I’m talking not only about asset investments (so investing in the real products that are generating) but also the enabling investments(such as the process that is needed to guide this process in the right direction.)

The programme will focus a lot on these multi-stakeholder collaborations, or as I like to call them, governance arrangements. 

Not only that because, in reality, we all know that these landscape level arrangements can be very nice, very happy, very constructive but, too often these arrangements stay within the shadow of the hierarchies. They find it hard to get out of informality and rather stay informal and, therefore, are not capable of moving into the policy realm and making a true impact.

That is why this programme will look at the capabilities of all the different actors that we’ve seen and try to mobilize these. Not to really develop or strengthen because they’re already there but to mobilize these to be able to collectively drive the landscapes in the right direction.

Amongst all of these capabilities, we have first of all the substantive capabilities. The capabilities of the landscapes, of its artifacts, of its trees, its biodiversity, of its different functions, and try to strengthen these

It also looks into the process capabilities which are actually those capabilities that help actors and policy makers to get out of the silos and create policies and processes that cut across the policy realms and restore landscapes in a more integrated manner.

The process’s challenge is also to help the different sectors to get out of their silos and instead of having them all making their plans separately…

…making them jointly, so that we get to integrated plans in which the public, the private sector, the civic sector work together, each from their own responsibilities, building our landscapes for our future. 

Finally, there are institutional capabilities. These are probably the most difficult ones and they refer to actors not only staying at the very local level using tools and techniques trying to make their landscapes better…

But, also to have these local actions travel up to higher level influences. Travel up to local official levels, and even up to the very top official level where they can enter into the world of policies. Then also to travel back down. And this is what some people call ‘scale’.

They can even travel up to the very institutional level. That’s probably the level where you are all looking at now in Sharm el Sheikh, and then mobilizing the capabilities of the multiple actors to work locally but scale these actions to higher levels: up to the top where they can be shaped into global processes and get back down to the local level.

With this, Landscapes For Our Future aims to build bridges between the landscape and the more formal political administrative reality.

It aims to do this by building all these partnerships, commitments, deals, programmes, relations but, also legislation to influence policies and infiltrate all these international commitments and conventions to really build a bridge between the local and the international. 

That means that Landscapes For Our Future is really meant to be Landscapes For OUR Future – that is building the bridges for all of us, for environment and for people, for society to move together in the same direction. 

And let us all use this conference in Sharm El Sheik as a boundary object to bring us closer and move towards a better future for ALL of us.