Toolkit uses participatory process designed to help landscapes connect their plans to achieve the SDGs with the finance and investment they need.
Finance plays a critical role in implementing the diverse investments required for a sustainable landscape. There has been a considerable uptick in analysis, programs and investors designed to support sustainable land management. However, most of these investors, innovative as they are, are not operating with landscape context or goals in mind. They largely pursue models that focus on a single environmental objective within a landscape (e.g. forest restoration or climate change mitigation) or a specific supply chain. They are not necessarily seeking to balance multiple agricultural, livelihoods and conservation objectives within an integrated landscape management framework. Furthermore, there are few efforts to coordinate finance within landscapes—to address inter-dependencies, conflicts, connectivity, or synergies needed to achieve landscape ambitions at scale.
The Landscape Investment and Finance Toolkit (LIFT) was created to help landscape partnerships, project developers and potential investors overcome this complexity so that they can all benefit from successful integrated landscape investments.
Growing interest but many missed connections
“There is a growing interest to invest in landscapes, but what to invest in, where and with whom?” says Omer van Renterghem, Thematic Expert Land, water & ecosystems with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. “Tools are needed that can help link landscape partnerships with investors and LIFT is a tool that can help fill the gap between landscape implementing organizations and investors. At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands we look forward to implementing this tool. We hope it will attract investments to realize SDGs at landscape level.”
Integrated landscape investments generate economic, environmental and social benefits; reflect spatial planning; and aim to link public, civic and private finance, but can be more complicated to finance than traditional investments. They rely on landscape stakeholders and investors working collaboratively. Organizing financing for integrated landscape investments requires different strategies and tools than investment in a single supply chain, commodity or asset. At the core of these investments is strategic coordination among landscape stakeholders that produces a landscape action plan that point the way towards integrated investment ideas. If a landscape partnership is robust, investors can benefit financially from being linked to the broader landscape investment strategy—through increased returns, reduced costs and/or reduced risks, and greater scope for meeting social and environmental objectives.
LIFT ready to elevate landscape initiatives
“In order for investments to be realised in inclusive, multi-stakeholder landscape initiatives, we have to help bring the financial sector and landscape actors more closely together,” says Jan William Den Besten, Senior Expert Climate and Ecosystems, IUCN Netherlands, and a co-creator of LIFT. “The Landscape Investment and Finance Tool is designed to do that. We hope LIFT helps elevate landscape initiatives by enhancing financial expertise among their actors and linking public and private investors in order to foster inclusive, sustainable growth and the protection of ecosystems.”
“LIFT provides comprehensive guidance to landscape partnerships which are working to attract investment that is supportive of their vision. The sequence exercise and worksheets are designed to demystify the often-intimidating world of finance,” says Seth Shames, Director, Policy and Markets, EcoAgriculture Partners, and a co-creator of the toolkit.
A toolkit that facilitates a participatory process
Towards this end, LIFT consists of three Stages, conducted sequentially.
Stage 1: Assess financing needs of priority investments in the landscape
Stage 2: Scope potential sources of funding for landscape investments
Stage 3: Devise a finance mobilization strategy.
Each of the Stages is organized into a series of discrete Steps which guide the users through the LIFT process. The Steps require the users to undertake a range of activities including creating working groups, organizing workshops, developing business plans, engaging with potential investors, and creating a landscape finance plan. LIFT provides guidance for completing each of these Steps.
In August, the first testing of the tool began in the Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. A second trial of LIFT has now begun in partnership with Solidaridad on the Northern Caribbean Coast of Honduras. LIFT is by no means a finished product. Its developers expect that early adopters will continue to provide feedback so it can be continually improved. Meanwhile we are recruiting partners for further detailed testing, with a team of software developers, designers, and financial experts ready to improve usability and effectiveness for the tool around the world. We are currently seeking financial partners to underwrite this effort.
For more information and to download the toolkit, visit liftkit.info.
This story, by Louis Wertz, is part of our Partner Spotlight on EcoAgriculture Partners. Partners in GFAR are keenly aware that it is crucial to mobilize better investment in agri-food research and innovation. GFAR’s multi-stakeholder partners can have a collective, evidence-based voice for informing policy and promoting better and more coherent investment, beyond specific institutional interests. Moreover, new mechanisms must be created for directly empowering communities to attract and make use of funding for innovative technologies and approaches, like the Landscape Approach. If we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the metrics for success in agri-food innovation need also to be completely re-thought, and the underlying value systems changed to allow multiple partners, from across sectors, to work together. GFAR Collective Actions aimed at improving investments and developing common metrics are part of GFAR’s Key Focus Area Demonstrating impact and improving investments.
GFAR Secretariat is turning the spotlight on the work and collective actions of Partners in GFAR who share in our mission to strengthen and transform agri-food research and innovation systems globally. Not a GFAR partner yet? Join now!