The agriculture-forest interface is the key to achieving global restoration goals


BY ALEX DE PINTO AND SALOME BEGELADZE POSTED | NOVEMBER 9, 2017


Deforestation and forest degradation are causing ecological and socioeconomic problems in every part of the world. It is well known that these impact the climate by increasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide—affecting the environment and communities globally. Degradation of land and soil also poses substantial challenges to meeting global food needs and generates additional significant risks to people, particularly in predominantly rural and poor countries heavily dependent on natural resources. It is estimated that the global cost of land degradation due to land-use change and to the use of land-degrading management practices is about $300 billion annually. Moreover, if the current pace of land degradation continues over the next 20 years, it could reduce global food production by as much as 12 percent and increase the price of some commodities by as much as 30 percent.

Given its magnitude, the joint problems of deforestation and land degradation must be addressed globally to respond to these environmental and development challenges. However, even though it is often said that actions that transform degraded lands into healthy landscapes are less costly than taking no action, significant forces have prevented progress and the achievement of land and forest restoration goals.

The international community has worked to halt degradation and restore degraded lands for decades. The latest initiative, the Bonn Challenge, sets a global goal to bring 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land into restoration by 2020, and a total of 350 million hectares by 2030. A key principle underlying the Bonn Challenge is the forest landscape restoration (FLR) approach. FLR provides a framework to implement sustainable forest management while creating a substantial role for agriculture. FLR is also expected to contribute to meeting many existing international restoration commitments, including the CBD Aichi Biodiversity Targets; the UNFCCC REDD+; the Rio+20 land degradation neutrality goal; as well as the climate change mitigation and adaptation goals in the Paris Agreement and several of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Although some progress has been made towards achieving above mentioned targets, significant obstacles have prevented progress and the achievement of land and forest restoration goals. Though there are local success stories, communities living in degraded landscapes do not typically undertake large-scale restorations. Widespread adoption of such efforts is possible only if landowners, farmers, smallholders, and land managers ultimately benefit, and then only when restoration programs have stakeholder support. The active role of agriculture in such efforts is expected to encourage more direct participation by communities, helping to reduce the observed opposition to large-scale restoration projects.

Evidence shows that landscape-level interventions—such as restoration of riparian areas and wetlands to regulate water flows for agriculture, or management of tree cover both within farmland and on surrounding landscapes—can enhance the provision of ecosystem services and support functionality of agriculture landscapes. Yet, the landscape restoration movement still struggles to become operational at a large scale due to a lack of understanding of landscape complexities and perceived conflicts among the most pressing needs of some stakeholders.

A group of researchers at IFPRI and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) set out to assess the potential benefits of a globally widespread adoption of forest landscape restoration. The results of this recent work on land degradation reveal that the full inclusion of crop production in the forest landscape restoration approach could produce large-scale, worldwide benefits for food security.

The positive impacts are multifaceted and significant in size: A reduction in the number of malnourished children ranging from 3 to 6 million; a reduced number of people at risk of hunger, estimated at 70 and 151 million; reduced pressure for expansion of cropland; increased soil fertility; and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. These benefits—not only to farmers but also to the broader population—strongly suggest that a forest landscape restoration approach that meaningfully integrates agriculture can facilitate the implementation of restoration plans on large amounts of land.

As impressive as these results are, the limits of the modeling employed indicate that these numbers may actually underestimate the full potential of a widespread adoption of restoration practices. Due to current modeling constraints, the representation of agroforestry, silvopastoral, and agrosilvopastoral systems at the global level is difficult and the role of these systems on a global scale remains unexplored. This is an important area for future work because research consistently indicates that the judicious use of agroforestry can provide an additional source of vitamins and micronutrients, among other positive effects on the nutritional qualities of farm output.

The results of this new work (which has not yet been peer-reviewed) not only confirm the findings of the many studies that have investigated the benefits of land and forest restoration in more localized settings—they should also provide enough confidence to governments and policy makers to answer the many calls to invest in wide-scale restoration projects without jeopardizing their food security goals. Approaches that fully integrate agriculture in restoration projects, such as forest landscape restoration, can not only avoid trade-offs between restoration and food production, but also can provide a framework to build on the synergies of multi-functional landscapes with significant benefits to food security.

Alessandro (Alex) De Pinto is a Senior Research Fellow in the Environment and Production Technology Division of IFPRI. Salome Begeladze is a programme officer for Forest Landscape Restoration in the Global Forest and Climate Change Programme of IUCN. This post is based on work which has not yet been peer reviewed.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the International Food Policy Research Institute and retrieved on 11/24/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


 

The fourth ‘E’ – reflections on agendas for change in water management

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The fourth ‘E’ of Integrated Water Management calls for a set of principles or ‘ethics’ to guide organizational or personal objectives. Source: International Water Centre, 2017


Dr Brian S. McIntosh FCIWEM: Education Director Email: b.mcintosh@watercentre.org Phone +61 7 3028 7600


 

Moving beyond the 3E’s of Integrated Water Management, IWC Education Director Dr Brian McIntosh argues for a fourth ‘E’ in the framework – one that speaks to the principles or ethics that underpin our personal and organisational objectives.

Integrated water management (IWM) is, for me, a label that describes a systemic, change-oriented set of principles and approaches to joining up the management of all aspects of water. By this I mean joining up or coordinating the management of waterways and wetlands to ensure ecological function; the management of water abstraction, resource storage and distribution across different uses and users, and; the management of providing water supply and wastewater services; all while taking into account the essential nature of water environmentally, socially and economically.

I am, however, on what one might term the soft or pragmatic side of IWM, the side of IWM which seeks to make reforms, changes and advances in ways which are appropriate to context and which take advantage of prevailing conditions politically, socially, economically, environmentally, or in terms of infrastructure condition and performance. Perhaps I am an opportunist. I contrast the soft with what one might term the hard (but not dark) side of IWM which seeks to a greater degree to implement particular and prescribed governance, planning and management arrangements and/or processes. The risks with harder approaches, from my perspective, are that they become ends in themselves rather than means to improving particular situations, or that they fail because only some of what they prescribe is suited or acceptable to the local contexts in which they are applied. Hence I tend towards the soft, the pragmatic and the opportunistic.

Framing IWM objectives

Regardless of where one might lie as a professional on this spectrum of soft, more pragmatic to hard, more prescribed approaches, there is a common history and ambition to all IWM rooted in the Brundtland Commission and work on sustainable development which emerged in the late 20th century, seeking to find ways to better balance the social, economic and environmental dimensions of human development and impact. As part of these approaches to sustainable development, IWRM (Integrated Water Resources Management) was developed with three key management objectives. These are sometimes referred to as the ‘3Es’ – improved economic efficiency, environmental sustainability, and social equity – and can be seen as a version of the triple bottom line in terms of sustainability. These objectives have application to guiding approaches to IWM beyond IWRM itself.

Much has happened since that time, now two to three decades ago, and we are currently coming to terms with what the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mean globally and for each country. In particular, the global water sector is grappling with what the water focused SDG – SDG6 – means for the reform of water management structures, activities, outputs, and outcomes. The SDGs are not the only show in town, however, with other frameworks such as the Asian Development Bank’s five-dimensional water security model and the Alliance for Water Stewardship providing other ways of thinking about reforming and improving the ways in which we manage water. Beyond the water sector, we can find yet more ways of structuring how we should think about and act to improve complex situations. The questions that Bent Flyvberg poses as being central to the function of social science: ‘Where are we going? Is this desirable? What should be done? Who gains and who loses?’ are a simple but powerful example.1

The case for a fourth ‘E’

Underneath the 3Es, or SDG6 or any other framework which contains a set of objectives and/or targets for change, has to lie a conception, even if hidden or somewhat mixed up, of what the right, or good thing to do is. I’ll explain. One cannot talk about change without articulating what could be improved, what could be done better. Embodied in the terms improvement or better, either implicitly or explicitly, has to be a set of principles or a set of rules for assessing what is wrong and guiding what should be done and what is right to do in a given situation. One might call this often hidden dimension the fourth ‘E’ of IWM – the ethics of IWM.              

How many of us are clear about the ethical basis upon which we work as professionals and indeed manage our personal lives? How many of us have thought through the principles upon which we decide what is right to do, and then follow through by using those principles in day to day life and over longer timescales across the course of our lives and careers? It is easy to lose sight of doing what is right, as everyday professional (and also personal) life operates within the constraints of budgets and time. We can become more concerned with the efficiency and effectiveness of existing practices (are we doing things right?) than with the overall impacts and outcomes of the ways in which we and our organization’s work (are we doing the right things?).

One cannot talk about change without articulating what could be improved, what could be done better.  

The literature on ethics is voluminous, to say the least, stretching back millennia (try giving Aristotle a read for example) but there are some great shorter 2 and longer 3 reviews which will summarise and provide insight into the different ways in which we can think about what is the right thing to do, and how to live (professionally and personally) a good life.

Broadly, however, one might distinguish two main approaches to deciding what is right and what is not:

  • Consequentialism – the right actions to perform are those which produce the right kinds of consequences either overall in terms of net benefit to everyone affected (this is called utilitarianism – the right thing to do is that which generates the greatest positive impact overall even if some people lose out) or to the individual actor (this is called ethical egoism and essentially describes a selfish position either individually or organizationally). Here, what is good is defined solely in terms of the outcomes or consequences of actions.

  • Non-consequentialism – the right actions to perform are those which follow either an independent set of rules (this is called deontology e.g. right actions are those which comply with religious rules or a logical system) or which result from people behaving in particular ways (this is called virtue ethics e.g. people enacting Buddhist behavioural principles will act in the right way by virtue of behaving according to those principles). Here what is good is defined independently of the consequences of actions.

There are various subtleties and distinctions within these two broad classes of approach, and most people in practice blend together more than one approach depending on their history and their circumstances. There are also both theoretical and practical pros and cons to each approach which mean that there is no single ‘best’ approach to take.

“If one view change as coming about as a consequence of learning then it is impossible to escape the need to be clear about what constitutes right action.”

Engaging in the choices available offers a way of being clearer about our conceptions of right and wrong, of good and bad. This offers a way to improve our lives, the lives of those with whom we interact and/or effect, and our careers. This is particularly true if we view our career as being a long-term process by which we play a role in shaping and delivering change for the better (whatever that might be). Indeed, if one view change as coming about as a consequence of learning then it is impossible to escape the need to be clear about what constitutes right action.

Applying ethics to organizational learning

Based on authors from organizational learning such as Chris Argyris and from systems thinking such as Gregory Bateson, learning can be distinguished into three forms. First, single loop learning, whereby we focus on asking ‘are we doing things right?’ and getting progressively better, more efficient and more effective at doing things the way they are currently done. We don’t question outputs or outcomes, we just get better at doing what we currently do. Second, double loop learning, where we seek to challenge assumptions by asking ‘are we doing the right thing?’ and, in doing so, open ourselves or our work up to doing different things in order to achieve different outputs and outcomes. Finally, third loop learning, where we engage in deeper discourse in order to figure out ‘how do we decide what is right?’.

“If we can create the spaces ourselves individually or collectively within the organizations that we work for to engage in double loop learning by asking ‘are we doing the right things?’ we create the opportunity to incorporate ethical principles and considerations into the planning, decision making and management of our work.”

Normal professional activity is focused on single loop learning and unless outcomes of work are being consciously monitored and evaluated and then assessed, or clear principles are being used to decide on what to do on the basis of what is right up front, then the application of ethics can seem remote. But if we can create the spaces ourselves individually or collectively within the organizations that we work for to engage in double loop learning by asking ‘are we doing the right things?’ we create the opportunity to incorporate ethical principles and considerations into the planning, decision making and management of our work. And in doing this we create the opportunity to shape and deliver changes to water management which have, however, we frame it, a good impact or outcome.

The challenge for us as IWM professionals is to first become aware of the different ethical frameworks and approaches that are available, and then to incorporate them into both daily life and the larger, longer process of working towards desirable outcomes across the span of our careers. It is a daunting task, but the only way that I can see of being clear about improving the way that we approach complex water management challenges over the short term or over the course of a career. Enjoy the journey.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by a contributor at the International Water Centre and was retrieved on 06/14/2017 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only.The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Maximizing potential for healthy rivers and low-carbon energy

©-Michael-Yamashita

Source/Credit: ©-Michael-Yamashita at the International Water Association


MAY 24, 2017


As the global population climbs toward 9 billion, rivers will experience tremendous pressure. To provide the necessary resources for our growing communities, more river flows will be diverted for agriculture and industry, stored for drinking water and harnessed to meet rising energy demands.

Global forecasts suggest a doubling of renewable energy sources by 2030, and hydropower currently offers nearly twice the generation of all other renewables combined. Hydropower’s contributions will grow as the world commits an estimated nearly US$2 trillion of investment between now and 2040.

Meeting our resource needs while keeping the climate in safe boundaries presents a number of complex challenges and tradeoffs. For instance, completion of hydropower dams currently under construction and those that are planned will affect 300,000 kilometers of rivers globally through fragmentation or changes to river flow patterns. This threatens freshwater fisheries that feed hundreds of millions of people and presents other social and environmental risks.

So, how do we balance our development goals with retaining the values free-flowing rivers provide? And how do we ensure that investments in hydropower are lower risk and realize a broader portfolio of benefits?

It requires reframing the challenge between development and rivers as one of system design–meaning, we must consider a comprehensive management system that balances the needs of energy and industry with what river basins need to remain healthy and thriving. A new report, The Power of Rivers: A Business Case, published by The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with McGill University, the University of Manchester and PSR, brings decision makers a first-of-its-kind global analysis to help yield better economic, social and environmental outcomes in hydropower planning and management. This is the foundation of a system-scale approach we call Hydropower by Design.

-Carlton-Ward-Jr.-e1495549650998-1024x394

Source/Credit: A distributary in the Atchafalaya River Delta, Louisiana, USA © Carlton Ward Jr.

The business case builds from the 2015 Power of Rivers report and draws from the Conservancy’s 65-year history of providing evidence-based, bottom-line oriented solutions to balancing conservation and development needs. Key findings suggest that the potential global economic benefits of widespread adoption of a system scale approach to hydropower planning and management are significant: even a 5 percent improvement in other water-management resources in hydropower-influenced basins would produce up to US$38 billion per year in additional benefits, a sum comparable to average annual investment in hydropower.

Another financial value for investors lies in improved risk management. Hydropower by Design can guide site selection toward a portfolio of projects with a lower percentage of significant delays and cost overruns due to environmental and social risks.

System scale thinking: essential to increasing investment benefits, minimizing risk

Across renewable energy sources, it’s critical that we consider early planning and holistic approaches to avoid or mitigate impacts to our productive lands and waters. While site-level mitigation of hydropower impacts can help, a number of issues cannot be addressed effectively at the scale of single dam. System-wide processes and tools are needed to identify development and management options that are both strategic and low impact, as well as financially competitive.

Countries facing urgent demands to increase electricity generation are understandably hesitant to embark on a strategic planning process if they believe it will delay delivery of projects that can meet rising demand. By drawing from integrated water-management, energy and financial models, Hydropower by Design (HbD) can deliver useful insights about development and management options for governments, investors and developers in a relatively short period of time. And the potential to capture economic values beyond energy generation is substantial.

In a set of nine case study basins, HbD approaches increased the level of other values—including water supply, flood-risk management and habitat for migratory fish—by 5 percent to more than 100 percent, compared to business-as-usual approaches. This occurred generally with no or limited reduction in energy generation—in some cases, there was a considerable increase in generation.

The powerful insights that an HbD approach can provide in the short-term, can deliver long-term, positive outcomes capable of maintaining connectivity on hundreds of thousands of river kilometers while realizing a broad range of other financial and economic benefits.

To learn more, and explore a series of quantitative case studies through download of the business case report, visit www.nature.org/powerofrivers.

Header Photo: © Michael Yamashita


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by a contributor at the International Water Association and was retrieved on 06/08/2017 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only.The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


 

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