Panel Discusses Integrated Landscape Strategies as Tool to Address Climate Challenges and SDGs
UN Photo/Mark Garten
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A panel discussion titled 'Meeting Climate and Sustainable Development Goals through Integrated Landscape Strategies: The New Policy Imperative,' discussed the role of integrated landscape management in achieving commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change and the SDGs.

Speakers discussed the value of engaging local populations in decision making and the need to ensure that analyses are at the same scale as decision-making authority, noting that integrated landscape management meets these criteria.

12 February 2018: The FAO Liaison Office for North America and EcoAgriculture Partners jointly organized a panel discussion titled, ‘Meeting Climate and Sustainable Development Goals through Integrated Landscape Strategies: The New Policy Imperative.’ In her keynote address, Paula Caballero, World Resources Institute (WRI), highlighted the role of trees and soil in removing carbon from the atmosphere, and therefore the benefits of landscape approaches to maximize their contribution to addressing the climate challenge.

The panel took place at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, and was attended by approximately 80 representatives of government and non-governmental organizations. The event, which took place on 12 February 2018, was the first in a high-level speaker series on the topic, ‘Towards Sustainable Landscapes.’

Opening the event, Vimlendra Sharan, Director, FAO Liaison Office for North America, noted that the SDGs tell us “what” to do, but the question remains “how” we will get there. Sara Scherr, President, EcoAgriculture Partners, asked participants to consider how integrated landscape management could help decision makers address the interlinkages and dependencies that are woven into the SDGs.

Caballero highlighted that the intersection between the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that countries prepare under the Paris Agreement on climate change and national planning to implement the SDGs are evident, and that land use is at the intersection of the NDCs and SDGs. She suggested that revised NDCs should be required to include land use targets. Emphasizing the role of smallholders for global food production and addressing climate change, she noted the global challenge to not only lift them out of poverty but to keep them out of poverty. She called attention to the Bonn Climate Change Conference’s (COP 23) decision to include agricultural issues in future agendas, and indicated that the decision provides an opportunity to shift to a focus on solutions. Caballero highlighted the role that the SDGs can play in helping decision makers to manage tradeoffs, for example with regard to biofuel policy.

Three panelists offered comments on the role of integrated landscape strategies and sustainable development. Kathleen Merrigan, George Washington University and former Deputy Secretary, US Department of Agriculture (USDA), cited reasons to be hopeful that change can happen, noting that the US military understands the interconnections between climate change and land use while industry also understands the need to operate sustainably. She also emphasized the role of building relationships in good policy making.

Ann Bartuska, Resources for the Future and former Deputy Under Secretary, USDA, highlighted that the US National Agroforestry Policy was released on 12 February. She emphasized the need for the scale of analysis to be commensurate with the scale of decision-making authority, and stressed that scientists need to take the resource manager’s questions into account. In this regard, she noted the value of summaries for policy makers to decision makers as part of large scientific analyses.

Leonard Jordan, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, stressed the need to include local people in decision making, and said the landscape approach offers a way for local actors to be part of the solution and to take ownership for decisions.

During the discussion, participants highlighted the importance of land tenure in advancing landscape management, and stressed policy coherence as a key for success. Caballero closed by challenging decision makers to think that “2050 is now,” and to make sure that all policy decisions are compliant with where we want to be in 2050. To achieve this objective, she emphasized the need for a long term perspective and for policies that are resilient and do not lock in the wrong trajectory. [Event webpage][SDG Knowledge Hub sources]

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