Spatial modelling of participatory scenarios advances landscape stakeholder discussions on shared pathways supporting SDGs

21-11-2018 | News item

Spatially explicit modelling tools can support participatory scenario development with stakeholders. This can be concluded from a set of casestudies in three different countries. The combined approach demonstrated the potential to achieve progress on multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) simultaneously. It proved to be a catalyst for building landscape partnerships and can be a foundation for landscape action planning and inspire the development of landscape wide investment portfolios.

Achieving the SDGs at the landscape scale

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a comprehensive, integrated and inseparable framework for countries to plan and achieve an integrated development vision for 2030. Spatial planning and land governance are becoming more important as cumulative pressures from the demands for food, feed, biofuels, nature conservation lead to increasing competition for natural resources. Inclusive and participatory spatial planning processes need a strong bottom-up component where the shared interests of a range of stakeholders can best be integrated. The landscape therefore seems a manageable unit where the SDGs can be integrated. In a landscape approach, stakeholders aim to reconcile competing social, economic and environmental objectives.

Spatial modelling of participatory scenarios

A key element in this project is the notion that many activities and impacts in a landscape are spatially and temporally interactive or inter-dependent on each other, particularly in the stock and flow of ecosystem services. Our aim was to make the stakeholders more aware of these interactions, to discuss their ambitions and to analyse how these could all be realised in the landscape. We assessed trade-offs and synergies by looking at changes in land use and various ecosystems services and how these changes are affecting progress towards fulfilling the landscape stakeholder ambitions and the selected SDG indicators on food (SDG2), water (SDG6), climate (SDG13) and life on land (SDG15).

Three case studies: Atewa-Densu (Ghana), Litoral Norte (Honduras) and Kilombero (Tanzania)

The tools were applied in three landscape planning processes. These landscapes are experiencing rapid growth in population, expansion and commercialisation of the agricultural sector, high rates of rural poverty, and both agricultural and non-agricultural pressures on their natural resource bases. Together with the stakeholders, we developed and discussed alternative scenarios and made projections of impacts up to the year 2030.

Raising awareness, improving discussions and building partnerships

The spatial modelling tools helped to increase awareness among stakeholders about landscape dynamics, such as a growing population and increasing urbanisation, the expansion of agricultural production, the effects on water quantity and quality, and the development of infrastructure and mining.

Spatial modelling of alternative future scenarios proved to be a catalyst for building landscape partnerships, and for bringing to the surface stakeholder assumptions, analyses, and negotiations around strategy, production and resource management practices and spatial planning. Scenarios based on integrated approaches co-designed by stakeholders from multiple sectors, demonstrate the potential to achieve progress on multiple SDGs simultaneously.

The project was carried out in collaboration with EcoAgriculture Partners and the case studies partners were Solidaridad (Honduras), IUCN-NL/A Rocha (Ghana) and African Wildlife Foundation (Tanzania)