‘The Power of We.’ This year’s theme for Blog Action Day, an international effort to bring together bloggers from around the world to blog on a globally significant topic, encapsulates a critical element of both the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative, and successful integrated landscape approaches as a whole. There are many demands placed on land and water – for food, feed, energy, raw materials – and with each comes a distinct set of stakeholders. Agricultural landscapes experience these opposing interests acutely: 40% of Earth’s land is devoted to agriculture; agriculture is the single largest employer globally; a major share of the world’s watersheds is subject to agricultural use; and agricultural lands provide important habitat for threatened and endangered species.
Why involve multiple stakeholders?
Multi-stakeholder processes integrate diverse perspectives and broader input to reach better and more lasting decisions. Stakeholders from different sectors (e.g. agriculture, forestry, health, water) and at different scales (e.g. villages, districts, regions) work together to coordinate action, align goals, or reduce conflict. This collaborative action is necessary to achieve multiple objectives in a landscape, where there may be competing motivations for land development, wildlife conservation, and food production.
At the center of most landscape initiatives are efforts to assist land managers such as farmers, grazers, forest owners, conservation managers, and private industry to adopt new and more sustainable farming and resource management practices. Involving multiple stakeholder groups expands the network of technical assistance, professional training, and education available to develop and effectively implement successful landscape initiatives. Experts in agroecology, economics, land management, etc. each bring their own knowledge to the table, allowing the group to reach solutions that consider all elements of a landscape.
Conflict management in The Nusa Tenggara Uplands, Indonesia
An effort in the province of Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, now into its third decade (initiated in 1991), has brought together a diverse array of stakeholders. Agriculture is the foundation of the rural economy, with paddy rice, staple grains, extensive grazing, and agroforestry products providing important sources of income and sustenance. At the same time, forest incursions and development pressures threaten the protected areas on the islands. Not only do these areas harbor considerable biodiversity, much of it found only on the islands, they also play an important role in securing water resources for the entire catchment. Many of the proposed solutions, however, involved evicting small-scale farmers and local residents.
The Nusa Tenggara Community Development Consortium (NTCDC) was created as an interagency network of government agencies, NGOs, research institutions, and local communities to address technical, institutional, and policy issues around poverty alleviation and environmental conservation in the region. This consortium has facilitated community organizing, participatory research, training, and capacity building, and meetings of stakeholder groups at local and regional levels.
One example, in Wanggameti, Sumba Island, demonstrates the importance of multi-stakeholder processes. The Wanggameti Conservation Area Forum (WCAF) was created to improve management of both protected and working lands, helping to address some of the disputes that arose out of the initial approach to forest conservation. Over 5,000 small-scale forests were established on family farms, and farmers learned and implemented practices to improve soil health and water retention. Besides increasing food crop production and diversifying income from agricultural crops, the WCAF has collaboratively resolved contentious issues of land tenure, communal property, and the demarcation of protected areas.
Read about more examples in the document: Reported Impacts of 23 Integrated Landscape Initiatives
The Landscapes Initiative is also a collaborative effort, drawing on the diverse strengths of the co-organizer group, as well as research and practitioner partners with capacity on the ground – in essence, tapping the Power of We.