Sustainable intensification is receiving growing attention as a way to address the challenge of feeding an increasingly populous and resource-constrained world. But are we asking too much of it? Nearly 20 years after the concept was developed, this briefing revisits the term and asks what sustainable intensification is – a useful guiding framework for raising agricultural productivity on existing arable land in a sustainable manner; and what it is not – a paradigm for achieving food security overall. The paper summarises the history of and controversy surrounding the term, its main assumptions and risks, as well as its value for the future. We call for a rerooting of sustainable intensification as one key element of a sustainable food system situated within a green economy.
Taxes and transition: formalising small-scale farmers in Peru?
Like many developing countries, Peru needs to increase tax collection to provide public goods and services for its people. In the agricultural sector, out of a total of 2.2 million farmers only 42,000 pay taxes; 1.8 million work on less than five hectares of land, most in the informal sector. As competition in markets that demand formality in their supply chains becomes central to policy and development interventions, formalising the very significant sector of small-scale farmers is key. But if smallholders are to join the formal economy, the benefits must outweigh the costs of compliance. This paper reviews the government’s formalisation efforts to date, focusing on a specific programme and tax mechanism designed to support farmers’ voluntary transition to formalisation. Applicable in Peru and beyond, the lessons learnt can contribute to a revised approach to formalisation that is ‘win–win’ – acting both as a lever for tax collection and as a tool for economic and social inclusion.
Routing revenue from hydropower dams to deliver local development
In too many cases, people displaced or adversely affected by hydropower dams still see many of the benefits accrued from energy delivered to distant cities or neighbouring countries. Even if they are compensated for their initial livelihood or cultural losses, hardship and bitterness in relocated communities may last the lifetime of the dam, spanning multiple decades and generations. Dam projects usually aim to meet national development goals, but that does not mean they have to settle for development inequity at a local level. Countries across the world are already redistributing revenue from electricity sales, ensuring local communities benefit directly from hydropower throughout the life of a project. With the current wave of large dams under construction, it is time for such benefit-sharing initiatives to become widespread.
Mitigating unintended local economic impacts of the compensation scheme for hilsa management
Management of Bangladesh’s hilsa fishery is moving from regulatory regimes that often ignore the short-term cost imposed on fishers to an approach that combines regulations with incentives or compensation packages. This approach offers a major breakthrough, but needs careful design to minimise, and where possible eliminate, unintended negative socioeconomic consequences beyond the fishery. Even though unintended local impacts are often short term or seasonal, their effect on vulnerable and less resilient communities can be significant. This briefing discusses the hilsa fishery and suggests ways to ensure management through seasonal closures does not damage other aspects of the local economy.
Participation as policy: time to formalise artisanal and small-scale mining in Colombia
Widely regarded as unsustainable and dangerous, Colombia’s artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector is largely informal – characterised by poor working conditions and inadequate regulation. With only one third of operations legally licensed, hundreds of thousands of miners lack legal and social protections. Although successive governments have recognised ASM’s potential for sustainable rural development and pursued formalisation, this has often excluded the voices of the informal ASM sector and had limited effect. Now, as national and global drivers align to make this a time of possibility for inclusive ASM formalisation, we examine current barriers, opportunities and learnings to recommend policy-level action. This publication forms part of IIED’s work to identify pathways towards inclusive and responsible mining.
Innovations for inclusivity in India’s informal e-waste markets
The success of policies in driving the transition towards green economies often relies on their ability to include the informal sector. The vast majority of India’s huge waste collection and recycling markets are informal, and e-waste is no exception. Regulations that came into force in 2012 are pushing for much-needed greener and safer practices, but threaten the livelihoods and security of this large informal workforce. This briefing draws on experience in India and elsewhere to look at the current mismatch between regulation and reality, and to identify the types of mechanisms that could steer India’s e-waste market towards greener and fairer outcomes.
Reframing the debate on urbanisation, rural transformation and food security
More than half the world’s population live in urban areas. Growing numbers of people in rural areas buy more food than they sell. Our food security narratives are outdated: urban dwellers are not all ‘over consumers’; rural communities are not exclusively producers. For effective policymaking, the production-based debate on food security must adapt to consider how consumption and urbanisation are transforming rural spaces and economies, food systems and food security. It must focus on access, affordability, safety and nutrition for both rural and urban low-income groups. Policy can be informed by innovations in trade networks and governance systems that span urban and rural contexts. We are working with partners in Africa and Asia on an ambitious change initiative that will support an evidence-based shift in global food security narratives.
Indicators for the monitoring and evaluation of adaptation
Methodologies for the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of adaptation are being developed and tested in a variety of programmes, government systems and climate finance institutions. They face a number of challenges, including: the potentially long timescales over which climate change and adaptation responses may emerge; the lack of clear metrics and criteria for evaluating adaptation ‘success’; the highly contextual nature of adaptation; and the need to evaluate success in the context of evolving and uncertain climatic conditions. The Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development framework identifies four categories of indicator for adaptation M&E: (1) climate risk management indicators; (2) resilience and related indicators; (3) indicators of human wellbeing; and (4) climate indices. These indicators address the above challenges by allowing different but complementary approaches to the assessment of adaptation results.
Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development through a gender lens
The effectiveness of climate change adaptation must be considered through a gender lens, tracking and measuring changes for both men and women over time. Our experience of using the Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development (TAMD) framework in several countries shows that it is possible for monitoring and evaluation processes and the indicators that track changes in climate risk management and resilience to be gender sensitive. This briefing shows TAMD practitioners how to capture elements of gender relations and climate change according to their context of work. Methods include using key gender-related questions and scorecard indicators to ensure equal participation in planning, considering gendered impacts in a theory of change, and tracking gender differentiated experiences of climate hazards.
Evaluating institutional responses to climate change in different contexts
Because climate change affects vulnerability, the way in which a country manages its climate risks is inextricably entwined with its ability to achieve development. This briefing explores the way in which the Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development (TAMD) framework uses simple techniques such as scorecards and baselines to help countries evaluate how well its institutions are managing climate risk at all levels, and how ready they are to address emerging risks. TAMD can be adapted and applied to different contexts and scales, to identify where countries need to target additional institutional support to help them achieve climate-resilient development.
Informality and market governance in wood and charcoal value chains
Two billion people rely on wood and charcoal for their daily energy needs. But supply chains are often environmentally unsustainable, and poor actors rarely capture enough value from trade in these products. This briefing discusses two innovative cases in the governance of biomass markets, which enhance the inclusion of informal actors. The first shows how Nepal’s long history of effective forestry governance has helped rural communities thrive in producing briquettes for urban markets; the second examines efforts to regulate Kenya’s charcoal trade in an inclusive way. Both cases identify wider lessons for improving biomass market sustainability that address issues of equity, inclusion and environmental sustainability.
Using wellbeing indicators and climate information to assess adaptation effectiveness
Adaptation is increasingly heralded as the means to securing development in the face of climate change. But how can we be sure that it is effective? One option is to use a range of ‘wellbeing indicators’ alongside climate information to monitor and evaluate adaptation over the short and long term. Wellbeing indicators overlap to a large extent with standard development indicators. But they are influenced by variations and trends in climate and, if used alone, can paint a misleading picture of adaptation effectiveness. By combining them with climate information – data on how key climate variables and hazards change over time – evaluators can ‘calibrate’ wellbeing indicators to provide a more accurate assessment of adaptation activities.
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