How do we make landscape approaches sutainable in the long term?

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Blog post 1: African Landscapes Dialogue

How do we make landscape approaches sutainable in the long term?

Written by Liz Felker and Ethan Miller

How do we make landscape approaches sustainable in the long term? This was the question posed by Dr. Gete Zeleke from the Center for Water and Land Resources (an autonomous center of Addis Ababa University) in his opening key note speech of the African Landscapes Dialogue. The dialogue, taking place this week in Addis Ababa, includes 140 researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and financers, representing 17 African countries. The objectives of the week include to share lessons and experiences of Integrated Land Management (ILM) across Africa, highlight promising initiates, gain knowledge and skills, review progress made in implementing the African Landscapes Action Plan (2014), and enhance coordination and collaboration across landscape initiatives.

The key note speech set the tone for discussions as participants vocalized the need for sharing best practices across African landscapes while engaging critically on problems faced and potential innovative solutions. Dr. Zeleke pointed out that though ILM has sustainability principles and objectives, in practice there remains an issue of how to make initiatives themselves sustainable; how to make communities and local authorities continue the momentum on ILM created by different initiatives? There are many successful examples of ILM implementation but he is concerned that some initiatives lack long term sustainability due to a lack of proper participatory planning, transparent investment, lack of focus on creating local level institutional capacity and lack of tools to guide planners and communities imbed actions for sustainability at the beginning of initiatives. To fill the gap related tools, WLRC with the support from GIZ have recently developed ‘A Guideline for Sustainability’ for ILM initiatives and Dr. Zeleke said that the tool has a potential to be customized to the situations of other African countries. He also stressed the need for creating national, south-south and norh-south networks for ILM. Later in the day participants echoed his concern calling for attention to governance structures, local ownership of initiatives, and transparent investment. Acknowledging these challenges, participants see a way forward through sharing success stories and learning from other practitioners.

The possibilities for achieving long term ILM sustainability will shape the basis of discussion over the next few days. Drawing on ideas posed and guiding reflections from these discussions, the participants will create next steps for the African Landscapes Action Plan. These next steps will guide landscape practices as participants return home and additionally will be publicly available for anyone interested in implementing ILM.

March 7, 2017

Photos by Dr. Zeleke

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