This impact story was originally published by BioCarbon Fund here.
SNV’s project in Mali’s Haut Niger landscape demonstrates how taking a landscape approach to tackling climate change can transform multiple sectors simultaneously. Monitoring and reporting at this level can provide longer-term, holistic benefits to the region and be a better way for organizations to demonstrate the impact of their investments.
Sikasso and Koulikoro in southern Mali are regions known for farming, mangoes and cotton in particular. When you look out on the landscape across the dry soil and dwindling water levels in the regions’ important river network, the effects of climate change are easily visible. But there are many impacts that you can’t see on the first look. Severe drought and soil degradation are taking a toll not just on the ecosystem, but are also affecting human health, agricultural production, and the economy. To help those impacted, landscape-level solutions are needed.
The Landscape Approach
Widening focus from single commodities, sectors, and projects to entire landscapes is one of the best strategies for mitigating the impacts of climate change, protecting biodiversity, and human wellbeing. This is the approach that SNV, a global development partner and member of the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development Consortium (DCFD) is taking to strengthen capacities and catalyse partnerships that transform agri-food, energy, and water in Mali and across the global south.
“This is one of the landscapes DFCD is investing in, among more than 50 business cases across Africa, Asia, and the Americas, helping to transform agri-food, energy, and water systems so that they are more sustainable, equitable, and resilient to a changing climate” says Harko Koster, the global lead on climate and food systems at SNV. “One of our core objectives is that this funding delivers impact at the landscape scale.”
The DFCD has two financing facilities – one for land and one for water – and SNV provides technical advice and support with the sourcing and origination of bankable projects that can later be funded by the Climate Fund Managers and the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO). But unlocking investment in landscape initiatives is challenging, largely because of the risk involved and because delivering systemic change takes time. Alongside this there is an increasing need for accurate and credible reporting to show the impact of these investments over time.
An Effective Framework to Demonstrate Impact
In 2019, Rainforest Alliance, Verra and Conservation International set out to develop a tool to measure and report on sustainability at the landscape level. Following two years of piloting and consultation, we formally launched the LandScale platform in 2022 and now have over 25 landscapes being assessed in more than 20 countries across the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
SNV made the decision to use LandScale in 2021, assessing the Haut Niger landscape in Sikasso and Koulikoro to test whether they could set a more robust baseline for monitoring and reporting on DFCD projects going forward. Prior to using LandScale, SNV was limited to descriptive landscape reports that were largely qualitative and often subjective in nature. “This type of reporting made it difficult to assess the performance of investments, and also created challenges with comparative reporting across different landscapes” says Koster. These challenges were echoed by many participants at the Global Landscapes Forum ‘Investment Case Symposium’ held earlier this year, where the importance of demonstrating the impact of investments in nature and climate – and the challenge in doing so – was a dominant theme.
“Landscape-level monitoring and reporting also allows us to be more selective in sourcing companies and intrapreneurs,” says Koster. “It helps us to see the real problems in the landscape, and find the solutions needed to safeguard its ecosystems and people, while also ensuring that our projects incorporate real community needs.”
Taking a landscape-scale approach to monitoring and evaluating sustainability can also help to bridge the gap between different landscape stakeholders, providing a space for collaboration and defining common goals. “While we don’t currently have formal partnerships with other organizations in Haut Niger” says Maïmouna Sanogo, climate change advisor at SNV, “we hope to develop a multi-stakeholder partnership in the future, to help build resilient economic development in the landscape.”
LandScale provides a practical and structured approach to monitoring and reporting on sustainability performance through a four-pillar framework which covers ecosystems, human wellbeing, production, and governance. Aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, the indicators and framework are designed to be holistic, providing users with a flexible tool that can be adapted to their specific landscape goals.
The platform has been designed to guide users through the assessment process from start to finish using a five-step process:
- Step one includes setting up your assessment team and defining your assessment objectives.
- Step two requires you to define the boundary for your assessment.
- Step three includes the selection of indicators and metrics.
- Step four is the collection and analysis of the data for each metric.
- Step five is the publication of your results.
Validation is carried out through each step of the process, and once all the steps are completed, users can publish their results on the LandScale platform. “Using LandScale helped us to gather our data in a really structured way, which was very helpful” says Maïmouna. “It also provided us with the opportunity to look into aspects of the landscape in more detail than we would have otherwise.” The process of validation, which includes an independent review from local experts followed by a review from the LandScale team, was also a critical part of SNV’s decision to use the LandScale platform. “Through validation, we can be sure that our results are accurate and credible” says Maïmouna.
SNV has recently published their baseline assessment of Haut Niger on the LandScale platform, the first step in a much longer term process. “In my experience working within global development organizations, we tend to be project, sector, and region oriented, and our projects are often focused on two- to three-year timeframes” Koster explains. “But when you are working at the landscape level, your scope is wider thematically and geographically, and you are thinking about a much longer timeframe. At SNV, achieving system-level change and scaling up our impacts is key to our strategy, which working at the landscape level allows us to do.”
This blog is part of a World Bank knowledge series on integrated land use, hosted by PROGREEN and the BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (ISFL). Integrated land-use initiatives take a holistic, multi-sector approach to addressing complex environmental and development challenges. Such approaches seek to sustainably manage multiple land uses across landscapes, considering both the natural and human systems that depend on them, and give rise to programs which recognize the interrelatedness between different sectors. To learn more about integrated land-use initiatives, register for our new e-course, “Integrated Land-Use Initiatives: Theory and Practice.” LandScale is one of the tools highlighted within the course.
About the authors:
Sophie Persey is the Lead for LandScale. She moved into this role after three years as part of the Rainforest Alliance’s Markets Development team. Prior to that Sophie spent six years working on sustainable palm oil in Indonesia. This included two years leading the Zoological Society of London’s Biodiversity and Oil Palm Project in Indonesia, followed by four years as the Group Sustainability Manager for a London listed palm oil producer with operations in Indonesia. During this time Sophie participated in and co-chaired Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil Working Groups on both Biodiversity and Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Sophie has a MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation & Management and a BA in Biological Sciences, both from the University of Oxford.
Harko Koster is the Global Lead Climate and Food Systems at SNV in the Netherlands and an experienced leader with solid understanding of climate adaptation, food systems, biodiversity and sustainable development issues.
Maïmouna Sanogo is the Climate Change Advisor at SNV in Mali on the DFCD project. Experienced in development related to asset creation and livelihood improvement for communities, she has held several positions on resilience and adaptation to climate change in different organizations.