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Managing landscapes for Climate-Smart Agriculture systems

Concept

Conclusions

Landscape approaches are the most appropriate approaches for supporting the transition to climate-smart agricultural production systems and food systems. Interventions that apply landscape approaches can sustainably improve production, help agricultural communities adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Specific strategies and processes that are needed to scale up pilot projects, include raising awareness, boosting partnerships, supporting a system-wide capacity development to strengthen capacities of people and institutions, and creating an enabling policy and business environment.

Landscape approaches for climate-smart agriculture combine agro-ecosystem and governance dimensions and maximize their synergies. They do this by building on multiple natural, semi-natural and agro-ecosystem functions, and applying adaptive management approaches at multiple and nested scales with multiple stakeholders.

It is important to engage in land-use planning at the landscape level and adopt consensus-based and people-centred approaches that foster country ownership and commitment for climate-smart agriculture activities in the field and throughout the broader enabling environment. In order for climate-smart landscape interventions to effectively reduce conflict, enhance equity and sustain ecosystem services, all the agriculture sectors (crop and livestock production, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture) and other sectors (e.g. tourism, industry, mining, urban planning) will need to be engaged in planning processes.

Initial activities will need to focus on strengthening the enabling environment, which include policy, legislative, and institutional settings. This involves the development of a toolset for interventions and awareness-raising activities on the benefits of a wider uptake of climate-smart agricultural landscapes. The mainstreaming of best practices will include policy and institutional actions and the formulation of sustainable finance plans to support the scaling up of these practices and ensure that all stakeholders benefit from more secure livelihoods. 

Landscape approaches enable climate-smart agriculture initiatives to improve assessments and decision-making process related to short- and long-term economic, social and environmental sustainability. By applying the landscape approach, the sustainable intensification of production can be achieved, synergies between climate change adaptation and mitigation optimized, and competition over land use reduced. The approach also minimizes trade-offs and other negative externalities. The implementation of a landscape approach, allows interventions to be 'retrofitted' through endogenous monitoring, evaluation and the sharing of lessons learned. Adaptive management and participatory monitoring of the multiple impacts and benefits of managing climate-smart landscapes are essential. Climate change adaptation actions require tracking the impacts of cross-sectoral and multistakeholder efforts at different scales, and continuously adapting them to changing conditions or new information. 

There is a need to catalyse landscape-scale interventions by increasing access to financing for climate-smart agricultural development. Incentives and payments for ecosystem services are potential options in this area.