Territorial approaches and deforestation

The need to improve the governance of international agricultural production and consumption systems and promote a transition to more inclusive business models is increasingly important, while the way in which international demand for agricultural commodities from sub-Saharan Africa has impacted the forest frontier, actual land use transitions and livelihoods strategies on the ground remains poorly understood.

Indeed, deforestation and agriculture-induced carbon emissions cannot be attributed to the development of large-scale plantations alone; smallholders continue to account for the lion’s share of agricultural output in sub-Saharan Africa. Public and private sector approaches to halting deforestation have, to date, focused on developing both hard and soft regulations to enhance the sustainability of commodity supply (e.g. voluntary certification, trade standards, corporate zero deforestation commitments). Because many producers in sub-Saharan Africa lack the capacity to comply with these regulations, they are unlikely to make significant contributions to containing deforestation without adequate producer support. There is growing consensus that enhancing the environmental performance of the agricultural sector in sub-Saharan Africa requires significant investments in innovative business models and financing schemes that support producer upgrading (e.g. through improved access to technical assistance, production inputs, and capital). In order to ensure investor confidence in business models and financing schemes that respond to local needs, and to minimize undesirable leakage effects, more bottom-up and territorially-explicit governance arrangements are increasingly called for by the development community. In developing such arrangements, landscape and jurisdictional approaches to zero deforestation commodities (JA-ZDC) are increasingly promoted. These approaches typically seek to reconcile three, often conflicting, objectives: enhancing production, conserving natural resources, and being inclusive of and creating value for smallholders (Produce, Conserve, Include, or PCI). Decoupling agriculture expansion and deforestation (e.g. through the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices, tenure security, and integrated land use planning) and leveraging private sector expertise, (market) networks, and capital are considered integral to these efforts.


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