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Public-private-civic partnerships for sustainable landscapes

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 10:32

<p>There has been a remarkable spread of landscape partnerships around the world, especially in places where<br />agricultural production and markets are growing rapidly in and around environmental assets that are also<br />important to other stakeholders for water supply, forest conservation, biodiversity, tourism, local livelihoods<br />and culture, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Agribusiness and the food industry, as well as<br />farmers, are also increasingly interested in such partnerships to address new sources of business risk related<br />to ecological degradation and social conflicts over natural resources, and to meet new commitments they have<br />made around environmental stewardship and social inclusion.<br />These long-term public-private-civic partnerships are a promising and innovative approach to address these<br />challenges--to move beyond the limitations of product certification and government regulation. But they also<br />require a new way of doing business for all of the partners involved. Very high-quality leadership, convening and<br />facilitation are required to manage diverse worldviews and interests and sustain coordination and collaborative<br />action. While many organizational models are emerging, there has been little critical assessment of what<br />forms, processes and tools are most effective. Thus partnerships are mostly feeling their way, and are often<br />'re-inventing the wheel' because so few resources are easily available to inform their decisions.<br />For a dozen years, EcoAgriculture Partners has been studying and learning from diverse experiences in<br />planning, implementing and monitoring integrated landscape management around the world. In 2014, we<br />welcomed the opportunity to become involved, as a learning partner, in the planning and launch of the Initiative<br />for Sustainable Landscapes (ISLA) of IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative. We drew on our own learning and<br />IDH staff and partners' experience to produce a draft Guide for Conveners for the managers of the six ISLA<br />landscape initiatives. This was applied and adapted during 2015-16 in quite diverse contexts. During that<br />period, EcoAgriculture Partners was also involved in landscape partnerships in East Africa, Central America,<br />Brazil and Southeast Asia and was pulling together new practical tools to support them. In 2015, EcoAgriculture<br />Partners and IDH collaborated with the Global Canopy Programme, The Nature Conservancy and WWF to<br />produce the Little Sustainable Landscapes Book, a primer for explaining integrated landscape management,<br />which tightened our analytical framework and broadened our knowledge base of examples from the field.<br />The resulting publication, Public-Private-Civic Partnerships for Sustainable Landscapes: A Practical Guide for<br />Conveners, represents the current 'state-of-the-art' for convening landscape partnerships. It does not present<br />a single model, but draws lessons about when to use different approaches in different contexts. The central<br />approach is one of adaptive collaborative management; continuing feedback and learning is essential. The<br />authors of the Guide made a strong effort to note ways to involve businesses successfully in landscape<br />partnerships, but the cases, examples and tools described are relevant for involving all types of stakeholders.<br />We are still in the early days of devising this new partnership strategy for managing the natural resource base<br />to meet the legitimate needs of all stakeholders in our landscapes. We welcome all to use or draw from this<br />Guide, and look forward to your feedback on ways it could be further strengthened.</p>

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