Managing ecosystem services for food security and the nutritional health of the rural poor at the forest-agricultural interface

Lead Research Organisation: Int Centre for Tropical Agriculture
Department Name: Research

Abstract

[Proposal EE112/ K1396905]
Predicting the impacts of global change on rural communities is increasingly challenging due to the accelerating pace of climate change and social and economic development. The combined demands of ensuring food, energy and water security have been described as a "Perfect Storm" by Prof Sir John Beddington, HM Government's Chief Scientific adviser. It is clear that food security will continue to remain a critical issue in developing countries due to the unpredictable nature of food chains and the effects of climate change.

Food security in poor rural communities often relies significantly on flows of ecosystem services from 'natural' environments. For millennia mankind has engaged in thinking and learning experiences which have shaped the processes underpinning the production of food and the management of land, addressing multiple factors and tradeoffs. However, many food production systems require intensive management and are prone to failure outside of the range of their optimal environmental conditions. Concerns are growing about the ability of current agricultural systems to support rising human populations without further degrading critical ecosystem services (such as water provisioning, pollination). During extreme events, such as drought, or other shocks or crises (environmental, social or economic), the dependence of rural communities on ecosystem services to meet their nutritional and livelihood needs often increases. This highlights the importance of minimising the impacts of agricultural systems on ecosystems and the services they provide. Strategies for coping with food insecurity may, in turn, have an impact on the capacity of ecosystems to deliver ecosystem services as the spatial and temporal nature of feedbacks between socio-economic and ecological systems can be complex.

Addressing the sustainability of natural resource management and rural livelihoods requires integrated thinking across disciplines. The complex transformations which can, or have already occurred from natural forest to managed landscapes must be fully understood so that systems can be adopted which promote sustainable transformations and/or can mitigate any negative impacts. This proposal therefore brings together expertise in social sciences, economics, ecology, risk management, spatial planning, climate change and complexity sciences to design and integrate a suite of models and methods to analyse how dynamic stocks and flows of ecosystem services translate to local-level food security and nutritional health. The study will examine the multiple (and multi-directional) links between ecosystem services, food security and maternal and child health outcomes in poor rural communities, addressing three main themes:
1. Drivers, pressures and linkages between food security, nutritional health and ecosystem services;
2. Crises and tipping points: Past, present and future interactions between food insecurity and ecosystem services at the forest-agricultural interface;
3. The science-policy interface: How can we manage ecosystem services to reduce food insecurity and increase nutritional health?

Analysis of household and intra-household nutritional status and assessment and mapping of ecosystem services at the relevant spatial scales will be conducted in sites in Colombia and Malawi, which are characterised by mosaics of forests and agricultural lands, to explore the trade-offs and tipping points associated with managing these dynamic landscapes under climate and socio-economic change. Powerful new models will predict how ecosystem services will be changed by drivers and pressures for human wellbeing and food security. This will allow risk management/mitigation models and strategies to be developed which can inform national and regional policy in order to maintain ecosystems and support human wellbeing.

Planned Impact

The developmental impact of this project will be to contribute to poverty alleviation for the 550 million people living at the forest-agriculture interface (FAI) in the tropics through improved food security and nutritional health and more sustainable management of ecosystem services. Primary beneficiaries will be the almost 2 million people living at the FAI in the project's Malawi and Colombia case study sites, particularly underprivileged or marginalised social groups including women and children, poorer households and disadvantaged ethnic groups. Secondary beneficiaries include local leaders who manage natural resources and national policy-makers concerned with achieving food security without degrading ecosystems. A final group of beneficiaries includes academics and researchers working in cognate fields. Since the publication of the MEA in 2005, many scientists are taking an ecosystem service approach to complex land management challenges, and the major conceptual and methodological advances that will arise from this work will influence this important and topical research and policy area.

The project will provide an improved evidence base on the value of ecosystem services for food security and health, leading to the development of better policies and practices to manage ecosystem services and food security, in turn leading to healthier, more food secure indigenous people who are better able to contribute to economic activity, thus reducing poverty. The project is structured to ensure identification of the most appropriate pathways to impact and to facilitate monitoring. It begins with a baseline assessment of the current linkages between food security, nutritional health and ecosystem services, and the drivers and pressures determining these linkages. The project's second theme focuses on understanding past, present and future crises and tipping points and the trade-offs (and associated constraints) involved in coping with them, identifying key areas and opportunities for engagement. The third theme deals with the science-policy interface, supporting decision-making at different levels through scenario-building that explicitly outlines the food security and nutritional health outcomes of different decisions relating to ecosystem services management.

Primary beneficiaries in the case study sites will be engaged through village development or environment committees. A participatory approach will ensure that local research concerns are addressed by the project, and feedback is provided in appropriate formats to different groups (posters, leaflets, meetings - all in local language). Community radio will help target primary beneficiaries at national and regional scale.

Ownership at national policy level in Malawi and Colombia will be ensured by annual meetings with a national advisory group comprising government, NGO, leading academics and private sector representatives. Scenario-building workshops using the ARIES ecosystem service mapping and Bowtie risk management models developed by the project will enable national decision-makers to visualise impacts of policy options with potential impacts on food security (e.g. PES schemes, adaptation strategies). Uptake will be assured through the strong existing relationships between our national teams and local Ministries of Environment, Agriculture and Planning and supported by dissemination of information through policy briefings and news media.

At international level, uptake of the project's findings will be promoted through the global networks of CIAT, Worldfish and CI. CIAT and Worldfish are both part of the global CGIAR network while CI has over 30 offices worldwide engaged in policy discussions related to ecosystem services, climate change and conservation and with close relationships with relevant ministries. Within Africa, engagement of policy-makers will further be assured through the network of LEAD fellows and their activities.
 
Description A member of the ASSETS team participated in the update of the Regional Concerted Development Plan of Ucayali which is a key policy instrument to guide development in the region up to 2021. We contributed during the workshop that took place as well as in direct communications with the Regional Government with some specific strategic variables advising on possible indicators and methodologies to collect data for those indicators. These variables included child nutrition, value and use of natural resources, equity in the territory, access to the national programs of food security, sustainable management of forest cover, sustainable management of biodiversity, and sustainable management of watersheds. These inputs were also shared with additional local actors as suggested inputs for the elaboration of the Institutional Operational Plan (POI by its acronym in Spanish) and the Strategic Institutional Plan (PEI by its acronym in Spanish), both also key planning instruments for the regional government.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Incorporation of project and expected outputs in the development plan of the Caqueta region (Colombia)
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact Project members from CIAT approach Caquetá?s Department government at an early stage of the project with the purpose of disseminating and positioning project activities at this policy-making level. As a result, the Caquetá?s government incorporated the project and its expected results in the Caquetá?s Development Plan (the plan that orient public investment for development in this territory). In this process, it was highlighted that the project provide key inputs for improving the management of ecosystem services associated to forests and that impact the food security and the nutritional health of locals
URL http://dapa.ciat.cgiar.org/2013-dapa-looks-forward-to-fruitful-cooperation-with-colombias-amazon-aut...
 
Description Participation in the update of the Regional Concerted Development Plan of Ucayali
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact A member of the ASSETS team participated in the update of the Regional Concerted Development Plan of Ucayali which is a key policy instrument to guide development in the region up to 2021. We contributed during the workshop that took place as well as in direct communications with the Regional Government with some specific strategic variables advising on possible indicators and methodologies to collect data for those indicators. These variables included child nutrition, value and use of natural resources, equity in the territory, access to the national programs of food security, sustainable management of forest cover, sustainable management of biodiversity, and sustainable management of watersheds. These inputs were also shared with additional local actors as suggested inputs for the elaboration of the Institutional Operational Plan (POI by its acronym in Spanish) and the Strategic Institutional Plan (PEI by its acronym in Spanish), both also key planning instruments for the regional government.
 
Description ESPA - ASSETS project launch event in Colombia 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This project was organized jointly by project participants in Colombia (CIAT and CI) and the UK Embassy in Colombia to inform to policy-makers, national researchers, international cooperation and other actors about the main objectives of the project and its importance for the sustainable management of ecosystems to improve food security and human health. 48 people attended.

Discussion with politicians and other policy makers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Ecosystem services in the Colombian Amazon through a gender lens 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact afterwards discussion

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCMQFjAA&url=ht...
 
Description Feedback to the Participatory Rural Appraisal methods to be used by the projects and contribution to PRA training organization in Colombia 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact CIAT has reviewed and provide feedback to the proposed PRA methods to be applied in 2013. Also has contributed to the organization of the PRA training in Colombia and to the selection of fieldwork assistants for data collection in the Lower Caqueta site, in direct coordination with the University of Southampton.

The PRA methods revision and consolidation iniatated soon after the Project PRA internal meeting held in Malawi
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Socialization of the Assets Project in Pucallpa 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The workshop took place in in order to discuss and disseminate the results of the ASSETS project to our different audience: Regional Government,Local and Regional Organizations, , Research Organizations, Development Agencies (i.e. GIZ), among others. We had a successful attendance and high level discussion took place during and after the workshop.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Socialization of the Assets Prokect in Lima 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The workshop took place in in order to discuss and disseminate the results of the ASSETS project to our different audience: Government, Research organizations, Regional Banks (i.e. IFAD), Development Agencies (i.e. USAID), among others.we had a successful attendance and high level discussion took place during and after the workshop.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017