Peter Holmgren – Opening Keynote GLF 2016

The opening plenary of the 2016 Global Landscapes Forum in Marrakesh will bring together leaders from policy, research, civil society and grassroots activism to share their visions for realizing climate solutions – utilizing the landscape approach and identifying key next steps to achieving tangible, implementable action. Speakers will share their hopes for the event and raise questions to be discussed within the more than 25 interactive and breakout sessions at the Forum.


Thank you. It is great to be here. Welcome. I think this is the fourth time I welcome from this stage today but this is the big one, the Opening Plenary. Really great to see you here and you should know that we have 3,500 people online as well. So, on behalf of the Coordinating Partners, that is CIFOR; UN Environment; the World Bank; IFPRI, the Food Policy Research Institute; CIAT, the Centre of International Tropical Agriculture; the Water, Land and Ecosystems Program and Credit Suisse, as well as donors including UKAid, the Australian Government and Finance in Motion and all the session hosts, many organisations are contributing to this event, you are all very welcome.

I want to give special thanks to the CIFOR team that has worked hard over the past months and a special acknowledgement to Kamal, our captain on the ground, who makes all this happened, it’s amazing every time. So, from there: landscapes.

Landscapes are often portrayed as problem areas: deforestation, degradation, loss of biodiversity, planetary boundaries, not enough food, not enough water, too much water, greenhouse gas emissions… We need to turn that around and see landscapes as opportunities for livelihoods and for well-being for billions of people. Think of hundreds of millions of smallholder farmers and their businesses. Think of important value chains of renewable products that begin in landscapes. Think of the planet we want to leave to our children. We have great expectations on our landscapes; meeting most of the SDGs depends on what happens in the world’s landscapes and how we can support people in managing them. Take finance for example, on this we can unleash the muscle of the private finance sector to also scale up investments on millions of farms. How can we expect sustainable solutions to appear at scale?

Landscapes are places of many kinds: large and small, tropical and boreal, variety of agriculture and forestry practices, ecosystems of all kinds. We want to embrace this diversity, we also need to embrace the landscapes or dynamic and they changed much over time then we think. We need to avoid therefore top-down single agenda fixed solutions. But at the same time landscapes have many similarities, they are also spaces were different values come together and that is true for all landscapes. And here it’s important to note that there is a space here for landscapes that is not only about policy measures, it’s not only about economic measures, it’s about a lot of values that go beyond that. It’s about individuals, about families, it’s about community values, it’s about faith-based values, it’s about historical, cultural traditions. All of that are values that go into landscapes and they need to be dealt with. This is what the landscape approach is about: people bringing their value propositions to the table and figuring out what the best way forward is, whether the landscape is a country or a farm or anything in between, and this is also what the Landscapes Forum is about: supporting people and landscapes, supporting learning and exchange, bringing experience and knowledge, working with a common denominator between landscapes, that’s not to say that they are similar, they are very diverse, but they have some common denominators, and figuring out how to generalize those denominators without prescribing solutions.

The most important of those things ¬¬- in my view – is how do we define and measure progress. There are hundreds of ways of doing this. There are thousands of methodologies, there are tens of thousands of indicators, we don’t have a general way to do this, and that is one of the most crucial factors if we want to have consensus at higher levels for making progress, and if we want to make that scaled-up finance to actually work, and maybe most importantly, following various elections, etcetera, reaching out to all those people who want to know more and want to be engaged more in their futures, we don’t have to decide sides in politics, but that’s a clear signal that we are seeing from many countries these days.

So finally, we are entering a new face of the Landscapes Forum, you will learn more about that later today, but let me share one of the ambitions right now: in the next five years or so, we want to reach and engage a billion people, and we really need your help in doing that, so this will be another exciting forum, it’s the fourth, following Paris last year, Lima the year before that, and Warsaw three years ago.

Thank you all for joining and for contributing, and end by saying that we are all part of this movement. Thank you and welcome.