November 2016 - Andrea’s programme design and fundraising role with AWF (the SUSTAIN partner leading on implementation in the Ihemi-Kilombero cluster, Tanzania) helps bring the theory of inclusive green growth (IGG) into practical projects in the field. Andrea’s role is primarily in project design, hence her highlight from the SUSTAIN implementation phase relates to influencing a food crop agriculture investment to include aspects of green growth.

 “There’s a lot of interest in IGG as a concept among the development community. A lot of questions around defining exactly what IGG means in terms of implementation and what needs to change to make it happen”.

Andrea provided input into the design process of the Agra-Yara food crop project to include a mix of agriculture and conservation objectives, namely the restoration of forest landscapes and wetlands. On the one hand, it was relatively easy to program and design measurable outputs for the agricultural intervention, such as defining communities and number of smallholder farmers, selecting crops, defining yield targets, improving access to market and finance, business planning capacity development, etc.

When AWF however started folding conservation measures into the same programme, there was a lack of understanding and capacity among Agra-Yara on how to transform the written climate-smart agriculture objectives into practical, achievable project activities.

The donors and supporters of the agriculture-focussed intervention were not clear how the conservation measures could sit side by side with the agricultural intervention. For example, concerns were raised about how the conservation measures would impact on the farmers’ revenue. Yet the project’s donor insisted on including green growth measures, greatly facilitating AWF’s engagement in the design process.

Then AWF faced similar difficulties explaining to the conservation sector why it made sense to invest in agricultural measures in order to achieve biodiversity conservation objectives. Andrea needed to make the case to those investing in core biodiversity conservation of the value of engaging with smallholder farmers in surrounding areas and to link that back in tangible ways to the core business of managing the reserve.

These two loosely knit groups are not yet quite convinced about the linkages between agriculture and conservation, or how (and whether) they can work in concert to achieve common social, environmental and economic benefits. Using an ecological modelling tool (InVest) AWF provided an evidence base to develop strategies for landscape restoration and riparian management in the Agra-Yara project. The tool highlighted several areas where uncontrolled agricultural expansion was likely to interfere with landscape parts most critical for the provision of ecosystem services. This information then helped the project proponents to include conservation measures for restoring and protecting forests and wetlands, and meet the donor’s green growth requirements.

“Making the interface and link between agriculture and conservation explicit, and providing an evidence-based rationale for it, is a core part of what SUSTAIN needs to do”, said Andrea.

She is now confident that as time goes by and the programme is implemented, it will develop more demonstrable examples with impact measures of what IGG means and the interventions that can make it happen. Ultimately this will make the inclusive green growth case more convincing to different actors, and help turn a transformational concept into practical, applied solutions that deliver benefits for people and nature.

Full transformation in the agriculture sector’s mindset will only happen following project implementation and achievement of impact. Agra needs to see the impact from their own project and through their own experience in order to own the process and its benefits”.

More knowledge on SUSTAIN and supporting documentation can be found here

Photo credit: © shutterstock / r-pal Teravagimov