An urgent call to act on zero hunger, farmer prosperity and climate stability
The environmental crisis is upon us; we must act now
The human-made climate, biodiversity and other environmental crises is sending shock waves around the world. Its symptoms and effects – the Covid-19 pandemic, crop pathogens, floods and droughts, heat waves, fires – are everywhere. But it is the Global South and the poor who are affected first and hardest and who lack the resources to cope. The world needs to adopt nature-positive, regenerative, landscape approaches to agriculture and land management to create a ‘safe operating space’ from which we can contribute to food and nutrition security, human wellbeing and reduce our collective environmental footprint that is threatening people, nature and the planet.
The way forward is clear: but smallholders cannot do it on their own
The solution lies not in ‘more of the same’, but in a profound transformation towards nature-based landscape approaches. These solutions must include the stewards of the land: smallholders, Indigenous Peoples, pastoralists, and local fishing communities who fulfil an unsung but vital role as producers of about one-third of the world’s food, manage much of the water and biodiversity that humankind depends on. Many successful, large-scale examples exist, such as Natural Farming in Andhra Pradesh, where nature-positive approaches led by smallholders – especially women’s groups – working in new partnerships are changing lives and building resilient agricultural landscapes. Such examples show us how sustainable transformation can be achieved. They share common features: at their core are individuals and communities, acting collaboratively; they harness cultural and biological diversity; they empower women, marginalized communities, and youth in new forms of leadership and collective action, building on existing social capital; they build resilience by applying agroecological principles and practices such as agroforestry to develop innovations grounded in local cultural, economic, and biophysical contexts; and they recognize that landscapes are complex and in flux, The solutions must therefore be adaptable, resilient, and relevant at scales from field and pasture to landscapes. Better and healthier livelihoods, diets and landscapes for millions of people are the desired results.
The way forward is clear – but the magnitude of the challenges is such that land stewards from farmers to forest dwellers cannot make the transition to more sustainable practices on their own. We need new partnerships, grounded in acceptance that the diversity of contexts, cultures, needs and species is a virtue to be built upon. Such partnerships can implement a new resilient and sustainable approach to agriculture and land management, placing people and nature at the center.
An invitation and call to action
Land stewards need coordinated, targeted, multifaceted support. We are forming CLEAR – The Coalition for Landscape-based Engagement, Adaptation and Resilience – to respond to this need. CLEAR will engage with smallholders and other partners to deliver nature-based land stewardship outcomes that are context-relevant, livelihood-enhancing and evidence-based. Today, we invite organizations that share our objectives and perspectives to join us in CLEAR. We will build on and connect ongoing evidence-based transformative engagement by coalition partners in terrestrial landscapes around the world. In such ‘Engagement Landscapes’ – both existing and new initiatives – we will work alongside smallholder land stewards, governments, businesses, and investors to deploy scientific research and evidence. In doing so, we will jointly innovate to develop well-adapted, context-relevant, investable stewardship models that deliver multiple benefits that will resist future shocks. We will work to ensure that investments that jeopardize the resilience of our land-based production systems – and, therefore, human life on our planet – become a thing of the past. We seek rapid results. We aim to help deliver transformative change in most smallholder landscapes by 2031. Join us next year, at the 50th anniversary of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in Nairobi, when we account for CLEAR’s progress towards its vision of transformative change based on leadership, stewardship, innovation, and equity.
Now is the time
Multiple environmental, social and economic crises are upon us. But examples from the Conference on Food.Nature.People and elsewhere have demonstrated how to respond: smallholder land stewards can be the foundation of a new and innovative way to bring together the production of healthy food, environmental restoration, improvement of livelihoods, and adaptation to changing climate. Now is the time to support the smallholders who play such a fundamental role in the management of the human environment. Now is the time to reward their performance in delivering commodities and services while securing our landscapes for future generations. Now is the time to harness the capabilities and agency of land stewards, especially smallholders. Now is the time to channel sustainable investment to those who need it most. Now is also the time for like-minded organizations to work together for a transformation in agriculture and land use, engaging in a coalition to deliver solutions where nature and people thrive in healthy landscapes.
This page will be updated as CLEAR develops