In cases where forms of land use are interconnected, cooperation between stakeholders is indispensable. In practice, however, parties are too often only concerned with their own interests. A landscape approach can help identify important and sometimes unexpected synergies and trade-offs. At the Wageningen SDG conference (30-31 August) workshop 'Landscape as spatial framework for an integrated achievement of the SDGs' you can experience the benefits of the approach.
Thinking in terms of the landscape can contribute to achieving SDGs. It is a method to look in an integrated way to the problems in an area. The boundaries of such an area (landscape) can differ; it can be a stream valley shed, water basin or a chain of mountains for example. In this area, social and environmental aspects are considered as well as biodiversity, economic interest, institutional arrangements, and actors involved.
Fictive, practice-based case
"In our workshop, you will learn about what it requires to use this approach; the necessary tools, knowledge and capacities," explains Riti Hermán Mostert of the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation. "Participants will experience the process by looking at an fictive case – an imaginary, practice-based landscape – and learn how to develop and execute good policies. They will be challenged to look from the perspectives of the different stakeholders, identify what they all need, and together develop a vision that integrates all background information."
When you look thoroughly at what the landscape itself offers and consider the spatial and physical possibilities and restraints, as well as the institutions, economy, well-being of people and the environment, you will definitely find synergies but also conflicts of interest. A development that is good for the environment will probably also be profitable for nature and people's health, but can at the same time temporarily reduce economic growth.
Win some, lose less
Hermán Mostert: "This makes the negotiation process very important. What we see is that by using this landscape approach, more and often unexpected synergies are discovered. It is not supposed to be a zero-sum process but rather a 'win some, lose less' process. You try to find overlapping interests and strive for happy people in happy places to quote my colleague Cora van Oosten. In the end, it is about the people in the landscape."
For sustainable business models in agri-food
The Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation has built up a lot of experience on the application of a landscape approach for the development of a sustainable business model for agri-food businesses, based on the principles of restoring damaged landscapes or 'ecosystem return'. In this way, the biophysical potential and socio-economic abilities can be combined.
This workshop is a joint initiative of: Sibout Nooteboom (Commissie MER), Hens Runhaar (WUR FNP), Johan Meijer (PBL), Cora van Oosten, Jan Brouwers, Lotte Roosendaal, Riti Hermán Mostert (WCDI).