How SRJS contributes to securing ecosystem services
Since 2016, more than 150 local NGOs and civil society organisations within the strategic partnership Shared Resources, Joint Solutions (SRJS) are contributing to securing biodiverse ecosystems and the services they provide such as climate resilience, water supply and food security. Read more about how the programme contributed to securing those ecosystems through changing policies and practices of businesses and governments.
This article presents the scope of impact to which we assume SRJS has contributed, based on an analysis of the results from the first four years of the programme. This is related to the assumed impact that these results have already or will in the future to secure ecosystems. The figures showed are based on a low cost methodology that combines the SRJS results database with various other recognised databases and open sources. The assumptions can be found in the full report that is available on request.
Improved policies and practices
Biodiverse ecosystems can be secured in many ways depending on the political, economic and ecological context. For example by improving mining, agriculture or forestry practices or by changing policies that will improve the ecosystem governance of a river. The SRJS programme contributed to the implementation of 214 policies and the approval or improvement of another 434 policies.
In some cases these changes in policies and practices have been specific and concrete, for example when a sugar company was banned by a court ruling from a forest reserve in Uganda. In other situations the results are more large scale, indirect and longer term, for example when agreeing to land use planning of a province in Indonesia.
Thanks to the efforts of our local partner organisations who collaborated with various stakeholders such as local communities, companies and the government, we assume that SRJS contributed to at least 2 million hectares of forest which is now under sustainable governance. ‘Sustainable forestry contributes to a decrease in deforestation, enhanced carbon sinks and increased climate resilience of ecosystems,’ Maxime Eiselin, expert green economy at IUCN NL, explains. ‘Additionally, many communities are depending on products from the forest, like honey, nuts or rattan. By using these natural resources in a sustainable way, they can continue to secure their livelihoods.’
For example, in 2017 460 families in Bolivia that own approximately 21,000 hectares of forest have signed Reciprocal Agreements for Water with local authorities and water administration entities, for the protection of the forest in important areas of water recharge. The connections between the authorities and the families were established by the SRJS programme. By protecting this 21,000 hectares of forest they ensure the provision of water for human consumption in the medium and long term for at least 2,400 families downstream.
Sustainable ecosystem governance is not only important in forested landscapes, but also in food production areas. In places where crops are grown, fish is caught or cattle grazes, nature is often exploited. ‘The world population is increasing and eating habits are changing. With so many mouths to feed, we must ensure that we protect nature in and around these areas,’ says Eiselin. ‘Since the beginning of the programme, our analysis shows that our partners have probably contributed to approximately 500,000 hectares of more sustainable food production.’
In Indonesia in 2018 for example, an SRJS partner mapped the condition of a community agroforestry area, which provided the evidence in a negotiation process with a palm oil company. Consequently, the company was willing to conduct maintenance and improvement of approximately 5,000 hectares which we assume leads to an increase in the food security of the community.
Integrated water management
‘Nineteen large rivers flow through the landscapes we work in. Together, these rivers have almost the same amount of water discharge as the Amazon River,’ says Eiselin. ‘But in many areas the water security is under pressure because of the large demand for water, for example for irrigation or because of the construction of hydropower plants. Pollution, for example as a result of mining waste, also poses a risk.’
To ensure that all water users, from households to companies, have access to sufficient, good-quality water, it is important that the water usage and flow of the entire river basin is mapped and aligned based on the carrying capacity of the river.
For this reason, our local partners gathered with the authorities and other stakeholders to improve policies and practices for integrated water management. Currently, there is an operational plan for integrated water management in 18 river basins, taking a critical step towards sustainable management of the almost 23 million hectares these river basins cover. The inhabitants of these areas, more than 1,5 million people, can get continuous or improved access to clean water.’
An example from 2019 is when the Ministry of Energy in Zambia decided to halt the construction of the proposed Ndevu Gorge Dam on the Luangwa River. This happened after a campaign managed by WWF against the dam combined with the developers not having completed the necessary feasibility studies. The Ministry therefore suspended their permits to continue these studies. This decision increases the possibilities for securing sustainable water management of approximately 34,000 hectares of river basin.
People benefit from improved ecosystem governance
Based on the number of people living in the areas SRJS works in, we can roughly say that at least 495,000 households can reap the benefits from this: because of sustainable ecosystem governance they will have continued access to fertile soil, clean water and a healthy environment.
For example, in the Philippines in 2019 the Local Chief Executive (LCE) approved the enacted ordinance protecting and conserving the watershed areas encompassing more than 60,000 hectares of land in the Municipality of Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur. The approved Ordinance was a landmark legislation that will benefit approximately 47,000 households that depend on this watershed.
Not only humans, but animals and plant species also benefit from good ecosystems governance. ‘Almost 400 endangered species inhabit the landscapes,’ says Eiselin. ‘Our assumption is that they benefit from sustainable ecosystem governance of their habitat. In the past four years, SRJS efforts led to 151 policy improvements that contribute to maintaining their habitat.’ In Aceh (Indonesia) alone, this has contributed to the improved protection of habitat of 125 endangered species. In the Soalala landscape in Madagascar, 119 endangered species benefit from improved protection of their habitat.
Another example can be found in the biodiversity hotspot zone of Stung Treng in Cambodia. In 2019, meetings on fishery management resulted in a collaboration of joint patrolling and monitoring of fishing and trade among all key stakeholders in the landscape. Since then there has been a reduction in illegal fishing, which we assume will benefit fish populations in this landscape.
In 26 landscapes, a diverse range of stakeholders came together to take care of sustainable social and economic development, using a landscape approach. ‘We see that the combined efforts from local CSOs, governments, indigenous communities and companies have an impact on the vitality of people and nature,’ says Eiselin. ‘A complex interplay, because all these stakeholders often have different interests. By uniting these and matching them to the ecological capacity of nature, the SRJS programme contributed to future proof governance structures. In many SRJS landscapes for example, trust and connections have been strengthened with several tiers of government, often through multi-year cooperation agreements. Biodiversity is conserved and nature in some cases gets time to recover and keep delivering its important ecosystem services. Right now and in the future.’
The 150 local NGOs and civil society organisations that have been strengthened in lobby and advocacy capacity play a crucial role in achieving these results in 16 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. With our CSO partners, IUCN NL together with WWF Netherlands and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs remains committed to work from a local to global level to securing these ecosystems. This infographic shows the assumed estimated contributions the SRJS programme has already made or will make in the future to water provisioning, food security and climate resilience.