When do businesses adopt a landscape approach?

From an interview with Duncan Pollard, AVP, Stakeholders Engagement in Sustainability, Nestlé by Hal Hamilton and Frank Hicks

 

Are landscape approaches the next big thing or a passing fad?

Many companies are already involved in landscape approaches, they may just not know it, or call it that. Water stewardship, jurisdictional approaches, and many large-scale projects involving multiple stakeholders are all landscape approaches.

 

Let’s just say that for the businesses, if you need to think and work outside the fence-line, or beyond the supply chain boundaries, then a landscape approach may be for you. This is especially the case for companies that have bumped into the limits of certification, have adopted broader corporate goals to create shared value, or have development outcomes that link to the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

When should companies become involved at the landscape level?

A recent seminar convened by EcoAgriculture Partners, Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Sustainable Food Lab set out to understand where and how companies should or could be more involved in this movement. The consensus from the companies present was that there is a strong case for corporate engagement at a landscape level when:

  • there is a high level of dependency upon a landscape by the company (either through sourcing of raw materials, the presence of fixed assets such as a factory, and/or the need for a “license to operate”)
  • there are major sustainability risks that can’t be solved alone (i.e. local participation and multiple stakeholders are needed, especially governments)
  • supply chain approaches, with simpler tools, such as certification, have not worked or are unlikely to work

 

What are the most promising areas for landscape solutions?

Simplicity is an important qualifier here – landscape approaches are complex so they need serious commitment and time. From our deliberations, two types of sustainability challenges stood out clearly as appropriate for landscape approaches:

 

– water stewardship

– helping farmers become resilient, principally to extreme weather events and climate change

 

There are plenty of examples where landscape approaches have been initiated by companies, and whilst landscape approaches may not be the next big thing, they clearly offer an important tool for companies.

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