By Olivia Freeman
The success to a landscape approach results from its ability to perform various functions and meet multiple objectives by exploring opportunities to link and create synergy between different actors. For a climate-smart landscape, this involves addressing climate change alongside other environmental or social objectives.
To achieve this integration, it is important that objectives are clearly defined and potential synergies appropriately identified within the context of the specific landscape. Distinguishing between primary and secondary objectives is part of this process. Primary objectives drive the project priorities. Interventions within the landscape therefore seek to promote multiple primary objectives. In comparison, secondary objectives can be seen as co-benefits (when having a positive effect) or externalities.
In practice, often both primary and secondary objectives are lumped all together. This can result in primary objectives not always being effectively addressed and instead just assumed they are being achieved. An example of this is the performance of improved cookstoves. While they can create climate, health and other livelihood benefits, different kinds of stoves can have varying levels of performance for each type of benefit. Therefore the type of stove chosen should be dependent upon the primary objectives of the project, but this is not always the case. Similarly some agricultural practices will have varying benefits depending on where they are applied. For example, sustainable agricultural intensification may have both climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits in some places and adaptation and livelihood benefits in others.
Therefore, synergies sought in integrated landscape approaches need to be specifically focused around the primary objectives driving the approach. To achieve these synergies sometimes compromises need to be made, as it is not always possible to achieve optimal conditions for all objectives.
Landscapes are dynamic systems that are usually in some state of flux. Promoting sustainable landscape transitions will therefore require an iterative, adaptive approach. To effectively achieve multifunctionality there first needs to be a strong incentive to take a landscape approach. This can be driven from the local level based upon the need to reduce land degradation or from the national or global level based upon the desire to address climate change.
Overall landscape approaches are well positioned to promote what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) call ‘climate-resilient pathways’: “…development trajectories that combine adaptation and mitigation to realize the goal of sustainable development…for managing change within complex systems.” The success of landscape approaches will be largely dependent on their ability to effectively achieve multifunctional outcomes.
Source: This blog is based on chapter 3: Characterising multifunctionality in climate-smart landscapes of the new book Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice
Citation: Freeman, O. E. (2015). Characterising multifunctionality in climate-smart landscapes. In Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M., Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (Eds.) Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, 37-49. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)