Integrated landscape initiatives for agriculture, livelihoods and ecosystem conservation: An assessment of experiences from South and Southeast Asia

Integrated landscape approaches offer a means of integrating policy and practice to ensure equitable and sustainable use of land while strengthening measures to improve environmental conservation, production, and well-being outcomes. While traditionally practiced and increasingly adopted in many parts of Asia, there is no systematic assessment to date of the characteristics, outcomes, and limitations of inte- grated landscape initiatives (ILIs) in the region. We provide a review of 166 ILIs in South and Southeast Asia to complement previous assessments in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. We surveyed ILIs from 16 countries to characterize initiative contexts, motivations and objectives, stakeholders and participants, investments and outcomes, and major successes and shortcomings. Results demonstrated that ILIs are used to address multiple challenges across the region. Ecosystem conservation is the strongest driver behind ILI development and design, however, initiatives invested heavily across four identified domains: agriculture, conservation, livelihoods, and institutional coordination and planning. Investment in capacity building activities to improve agricultural practices, natural resource management and com- munity participation, was strong. We found clear divisions in how stakeholders participate in ILIs: donors are more than twice as likely to design rather than implement ILIs, while other groups, such as women’s associations, were frequently limited to implementation. Engagement of the private sector is comparatively low. Other challenges identified include concerns about the long-term sustainability of ILIs, lack of government and financial support, and agendas side lined by powerful stakeholders. While integrated approaches are necessary to address landscape multifunctionality, many initiatives struggled to transition from planning to implementation.