What can we do together that we can’t on our own?

How the islands that inspired Darwin’s Theories of Evolution continue to inspire fresh thinking for people and planet

In late April, partners in the 1000 Landscapes for 1 Billion People initiative (1000L) came together for the first time since the start of the pandemic, to take stock, accelerate our work and look ahead. As a group of organisations committed to championing the values of ‘radical collaboration’, it felt particularly meaningful to be able to experience once again the kind of creative, galvanising energy that connecting in-person can foster. Workshops and field trips took place over a week in the UNESCO World Heritage islands of the Galapagos. Our South American-based Advisor, Sarah Forrester Wilson, attended on the Landscape Finance Lab’s behalf. 

Participants were hosted by the local community and Conservation International (a lead partner in 1000L), and were privileged to witness how, through inclusive conservation and Integrated Landscape Management (ILM), the islands have become one of the most powerful examples of a sustainable landscape that balances the needs of nature and people.

It was heartening to see the real, tangible results of over two decades of stakeholders working together to protect the Galapagos, after a boom in tourism in the late ‘90s threatened this fragile ecosystem. Biodiversity and ocean health, for example, have since made substantial progress. Fish stocks, which had been severely depleted due to overfishing, are bouncing back. Unique species of lobsters whose numbers were dwindling are now making a recovery. Importantly, this has not been achieved through ever more punitive measures against small fishermen, depriving them of livelihoods. Instead, these wins for nature have come about through years of improving cooperation amongst local stakeholders, including the government, the scientific community, tourism operators, local agricultural and fishing businesses and community leaders. 

Changing mindsets and building trust is a long game, but on our visits to local farms, markets and fisheries, we saw over and over again how shifting to more regenerative practices over time creates virtuous circles for the whole landscape, including for people. With a gradual return to more sustainable food production on the islands, for instance, there’s encouraging evidence of local people becoming less reliant on expensive imports, meaning less food insecurity during uncertain times, and fewer invasive species endangering indigenous ones.

Throughout the week of sessions, as 1000L partners continued to develop tools and strategies, we kept coming back to the question: what can we, as a group of organisations and practitioners, do together that we can’t do on our own? How does our collaboration add value? Our answer was there in the Galapagos. Indeed it’s there within all landscape partnerships, in how their own collaborations search for synergies, balance needs, and maximise benefits.  Sustainable landscapes are our purpose and our inspiration. Just as they bring stakeholders together to tackle social, environmental and economic challenges, we come together to scale their impact. 

Together, the 1000L partnership is currently working on:

  • Co-designing a curriculum of Foundational learning modules and materials to “step in” to Integrated Landscape Management and develop key competencies for effective landscape partnerships, such Shared Leadership and Facilitation; as well as Core modules that will help participants  delve deeper into each of the five elements of ILM. 
  • Drafting a comprehensive Practical Guide for landscapes on how to implement ILM on the ground
  • Curating ILM content and resources and making them available on the mobile-first digital platform being designed within the 1000L initiative to support landscape partnerships (Terraso, currently in beta)
  • Creating digital tools to assist landscape partnerships in assessing their landscapes and opportunities for finance

Download the 1000L brochure here.

Read about how we are applying the landscape approach to our portfolio of landscape experiments

EcoAgriculture Partners, Commonland, Tech Matters, Conservation International, Rainforest Alliance

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