Story | 17 May, 2021

Farmer organisations and the Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions: An illustration

IUCN is onto something with the Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions and its associated self-assessment. However, the best way to reinforce the universal value of this tool is for different types of organisations to apply the self-assessment to their own projects. Farmers and farmers’ associations have an outsized impact on landscapes all over the world. We introduced the Global Standard to a select group of representatives from farmers’ organisations to see what they thought about it.

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Photo: Matt Orley

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) offer the world a chance to address multiple sustainability crises, including climate change, food and water security, land degradation and biodiversity loss. For this reason, NbS are getting attention and interest from the private sector, NGOs, governments and international policy.

Within the context of this rapidly moving agenda and the “super year” of international climate change, biodiversity, and other global forest and food systems events, it is important that forest farm producer organisations (FFPOs) are recognised as key agents of NbS by their governments and the international community, especially the donor and finance communities. This recognition is important, in part, because farmers and local communities are often only considered as drivers of ecosystem degradation, but this is only part of the picture. FFPOs can (and often do) play a critcial role in leading NbS.

By applying the IUCN Global Standard for NbS self-assessment tool, FFPOs can make visible their strong case as positive agents for sustainability. By using this standard methodology recognised internationally in both the public and private sectors, FFPOs collectively raise the voice of smallholder farmers and indigenous communities within this policy space. The results can be used to influence laws and regulations, and access funding opportunities on national and international platforms.

FFPOs connect to the Global Standard for NbS

Before assessing the applicability and benefit of the Global Standard for NbS with FFPOs, the first step was to introduce a select group of FFPO representatives to the self-assessment process. This introduction was concluded with 12 member organisations from eight countries over two half-day webinars.

The best way to describe the outcomes from these introduction sessions is through this specially designed depiction of what members learned and discussed.

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Next steps

The process of walking through the self-assessment and listening to the feedback from the FFPO representatives will lead to a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the assessment when it is applied in the field.

Reactions in the training were diverse, so were the reasons why different organisation would want to apply the Standard. For example, a representative of the Ghana Federation of Forest and Farm Producers remarked,

The assessment tool is great and useful for [us], especially to help in the process of [our] green market strategy focusing on green production.”  

The representative of the Togolese Coordination of Farmers and Producers’ Organisations said about the tool,

It will be useful to improve our agricultural practices but also to plan our work at a bigger scale. I think the NbS Standard is very inclusive. It can be adapted to many situations.”

With the Forest and Farm Facility’s support, FFPOs and farmers unions are now piloting the self-assessment tool in the field. They will provide constructive feedback to IUCN to verify the tool’s use locally. Once they have completed the self-assessments, the organisations will be better informed on how to improve their practices, and be able to demonstrate how they are applying Nature-based Solutions. This will help raise the NbS profile of FFPOs as key landscape actors, and help to persuade decision-makers to support policies and funding opportunities for FFPOs in the future.