Assessing Landscape Governance: A Participatory Approach

Assessing Landscape Governance: A Participatory Approach

the Netherlands - 13 December, 2017

In any landscape, the interests of stakeholders can both connect and conflict, often at the same time. Landscape governance relates to how various interests in the landscape are balanced in decision making and how the rules stimulate the sustainable management of the landscape resources. To achieve sustainable landscape development, it is therefore key to understand how governance processes are organized, and how this influences the decisions and behaviour of the actors in the landscape.

In recent years, interest has been rising and investments have been growing in integrated landscape initiatives. These initiatives often include elements that address governance processes by seeking to understand and improve the rules and decision-making in a landscape. Just like with biophysical interventions in the landscape, such as tree planting or micro-dam construction, management decisions about changes in governance processes should be informed by data about the current status, and paired with regular monitoring so that the intervention can be evaluated and adaptively managed. Yet, until now there was no simple and integrative method to evaluate landscape governance designed for landscape initiatives.

Tropenbos International and EcoAgriculture Partners developed the Landscape Governance Assessment Methodology for this purpose. It is a tool that facilitates the participatory analysis of landscape governance: it allows landscape stakeholders to better understand how landscape governance works, and identify changes through time. The multi-stakeholder approach promotes dialogue among stakeholders about the governance of their landscape.

“Landscape Initiatives put lots of time and resources into improving governance processes for the landscape, but they often don’t evaluate whether those changes are generating the outcomes they want,” says Louise Buck, Director of Landscape Innovation at EcoAgriculture Partners. “With this tool, we think we can change that, and with it, the strength and durability of landscape initiatives around the world.”

“This simple question – who takes what decision and how, and how can we be part of the decision making – generates a lot of discussion between stakeholders,” says Roderick Zagt, Programme Coordinator at Tropenbos International. “In each of the 13 workshops we conducted so far, we found out this works extremely well to stimulate joint action to address common problems in the landscape.”

The assessment methodology consists of a two-day participatory workshop with stakeholders from the landscape. The workshop is structured around indicators of four key performance criteria in landscape governance.

  1. inclusive and equitable decision-making;
  2. social cohesion and collaboration in the landscape;
  3. coordination among actors, sectors and scales; and
  4. sustainable landscape thinking and action.

During the workshop, the participants develop a vision for the future of governance of their landscape. The workshop results in a report on the baseline of landscape governance and identifies possible strategies for improved landscape governance. Applying this methodology allows participants to discuss key features of landscape governance, and learn how to
monitor them and identify priorities.

The landscape governance assessment method and the manual were developed in the framework of the Green Livelihoods Alliance - Milieudefensie, IUCN NL and Tropenbos International, and was funded under the Dialogue and Dissent strategic partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.