GIZ background paper on landscape approaches

This background paper highlights the opportunities landscape approaches can bring to rural areas with their ecosystems and communities.

Landscapes are essential for people in rural areas and for society as a whole. The background paper Landscape Approaches published by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) sheds a light on the challenges and the solutions of landscape approaches. 

Natural resources like land and water offer potentials for improving people’s living conditions – e.g. through agriculture. At the same time, the utilisation of resources impacts biodiversity, water availability, soil quality, the global climate, etc. Landscapes are the meeting ground for socio-economic considerations and environmental concerns. Besides being key to the livelihoods of the people living in a specific landscape, a landscape’s ecosystem services are fundamental for the survival of all life on a global level. 

These demands need to be balanced in a context where pressure on landscapes is rising due to population growth and demands for food, energy and raw materials are increasing. Landscape approaches provide sustainable solutions. They foster compromises that will capture the potentials at landscape level for the benefit of the population, without endangering natural resources. They reconcile priorities at landscape level with the societal objectives of ecological sustainability - for example between food production and biodiversity conservation.

To this end, when discussing development objectives landscape approaches utilise multi-stakeholder-processes to include all relevant private and public actors. This brings benefits for vulnerable groups such as women, young people, and also landless people in that their priorities are represented in decision making. The participatory method central to landscape approaches reinforces stakeholders’ ownership and strengthens the long-term implementation of jointly developed management strategies. Landscape approaches apply a broad range of tools and methods for the sustainable management of natural resources.

This background paper outlines the relevance of landscapes, the challenges they face, and the solutions landscape approaches offer. The paper recommends measures to facilitate the implementation of landscape approaches and to harness their contribution to the SDGs.

Author: Sustainable Rural Development Sector Project (Kai Schütz), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Bonn, Germany

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