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Protecting people and the environment

Sustainability means using the land without degrading the environment, preserving finite resources such as the soil, water and forests. Sustainable land use should also bring social and economic benefits, such as better working conditions and improved return on investment. This balance of benefits can only be guaranteed through strong environmental safeguards and monitoring.

In this section:

In this section you will find information and methodologies on the environmental and social aspects of sustainable landscape initiatives, including sample templates and resources used in the three Unlocking Forest Finance pilot projects.

Why is this important?

There is a clear case for governments to preserve forests and other important ecosystems that support people and economies. One major reason is to address climate change, which will mean conserving forests and reducing carbon emissions from land use. Many countries have already committed to ambitious targets under the Paris Climate Agreement and the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but most are still at an early stage of planning and implementation.

Sustainable landscape initiatives are also known as the ‘landscape approach’ or integrated landscape management, because they balance different uses of the land. For example, investments in sustainable agriculture must also be closely linked to initiatives to strengthen protected areas such as state parks and indigenous lands. This requires financial resources as well as strong laws, conservation incentives, active enforcement and anti-corruption measures.

There are several other ways initiatives can ensure strong environmental and social benefits. To receive finance, farmers signing up to the Unlocking Forest Finance projects should follow stringent environmental and social Codes of Conduct, with a monitoring programme to ensure best practices are followed.

Sustainability is not just about the natural environment. Social sustainability is also vital for success. As a minimum, sustainable landscape projects should benefit the indigenous peoples and local communities living in the region, whose participation is essential for success.

Initiatives to improve agriculture and protect the environment will all require significant up-front investment. Attracting the necessary finance is addressed in the next section, Channelling investment.

Learn more about this approach

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