Mesoamerican leaders promote integrated landscape management

In the first week of July, Solidaridad joined forces with other NGOs and institutions in the Mesoamerican region to talk sustainable landscapes. The result? A joint action plan to enhance sustainability landscapes and promote a green and inclusive economy in Central America and Mexico.

Shaping a Sustainable Plan of Action

Earlier this summer, more than 90 leaders from across governments, the private sector, civil society organizations, rural producer groups, indigenous organizations, and other stakeholders met at CATIE (Tropical Agronomic Center for Research and Teaching) in Costa Rica. Within the framework of the Mesoamerican Dialogue on Sustainable Landscapes, the participants jointly formulated an ambitious action plan in order to boost the sustainability of landscapes and territories in the Mesoamerican region.

This regional knowledge-sharing initiative was organized by a consortium formed by a number of recognized NGOs and institutions. Among these were CATIE, Solidaridad, the Mexican Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Conservation International (CI) and EcoAgriculture Partners. Additional sponsors included the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative.

Concluding the conference, and as part of the action plan formulated, the participants agreed to:

  • Strengthen multi-stakeholder collaborative platforms for Integrated Landscape Management. This would include a network that allows sharing knowledge, the possibility to adapt existing tools to address the challenges on Integrated Landscape Management, and to disseminate lessons learned. This will ensure the participation of women, young people, indigenous peoples and local communities.

  • Mobilize investment to guarantee the sustainability of landscapes. This will happen through the incubation of green and inclusive ventures, promoting entrepreneurship, strengthening financial capabilities of landscape actors, and developing new financial instruments suitable for Integrated Landscape Management.

  • Seek political support for the strengthening of the platforms of Integrated Landscape Management. This would function as a central strategy to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the Paris Agreement, and the Aichi Goals (Strategic Plan for Biological Diversity 2011-2020) of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Private Companies Aligning with Sustainability Frameworks

Michaelyn Baur, Regional Director of Solidaridad to Central America, Mexico, and The Caribbean, offered interesting insights. She suggested that the event will empower multiple stakeholders to  define their own vision for a sustainable management of their landscape. Whatsmore, the project will provide these stakeholders with the necessary tools to achieve their vision. Mrs Baur concluded that communication between landscape initiatives and private companies across sectors should be seen as something encouraging.  Meaning that private companies are willing and want to invest to align their strategies within a sustainability framework.

Another long-time partner of Solidaridad, Lila Ucles from the Cacao and Chocolate Women Network of Honduras (REDMUCH) underlined how women are not only a beautiful part of the landscape, but also key actors within it. "I am very satisfied with the synergies of this event, being heard and at the same time learning from other interventions makes us feel that we are part of a whole”.

Cross-sectional Cooperation Yields Positive Results

On another important note, Costa Rican forestry specialist Gilbert Canet added that to achieve the SDGs, it is essential to look for specific common themes. These would be common themes between the agricultural and environmental sector that contemplate the direct link between the degradation of landscapes and rural poverty.

Omar Palacios, Country Director for Solidaridad Honduras, points towards the importance of different actors co-operating for the sake of making alliances as well as greater collective impacts.

“The Integrated Landscape Management approach organizes different actors to work together, forming strategic alliances that will increase impact from a community level towards a landscape level. We can already see those results; after six years working in the region, we’ve found in oil palm in Honduras, the perfect opportunity to move from a farm or processing-plant focus, into a landscape approach”

Palacios further refers to how the PaSos program (Paisajes Sostenibles) has facilitated dialogue in the region, building consensus with farmers and social enterprises, along with municipal leaders and private companies, to find landscape solutions that benefit all stakeholders. When the private sector, the cooperatives, and the local government co-exist, then the implementation of better policies is much more efficient. It is the belief of Palacios and his co-workers that the oil palm sector in Honduras can be a regional leader, which in turn will bring in other commodities and countries across the region.

Understanding Landscape Restoration

Regional IUCN representative Ronald McCarthy, highlighted the essence of understanding landscape restoration.  

"For the countries in this region to advance towards the achievement of their national and international goals, it is essential to understand the restoration of the landscape from a broader approach, and talk about the restoration of the productive rural landscape, which means to work with non-traditional sectors in this matter".

Other institutions that also contributed through their participation in working groups were the Global Forum of Landscapes of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the German Corporation for International Cooperation  (GIZ), the initiatives Reforestamos Mexico, Rikolto, the Ford Foundation, the University of California-Berkeley and the World Resources Institute.

Learn more about Solidaridad's projects in Central America here.