How Resilient Landscapes leverages science to scale up investment and impact in Nature-Based Solutions

Canal on peatland area in Katingan. Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Nanang Sujana/CIFOR

The COVID-19 pandemic has created greater awareness about the interconnectedness and fragility of our natural ecosystems. Natural capital such as forests, soils, water, and air are cornerstones of healthy ecosystems upon which food security, nutrition, human and animal health depend.

To address the global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, broken food systems, deforestation and land degradation, we need massive public and private investment in science-driven nature-based solutions and the active engagement of all stakeholders, including local communities, women and youth. In its ‘roadmap for recovery’ from the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Council indicates that the green transition is one of three key strategic action areas requiring investment to build a more resilient, sustainable and fair Europe

There is an urgent need to unleash private sector capital with catalytic public sector investment, to meet the finance gap required to achieve zero emission targets. According to a recent report by UNEP, if the world is to meet the global climate change, biodiversity, and land degradation targets, it needs to close a USD 4.1 trillion financing gap in nature by 2050. The current investments in nature-based solutions amount to USD 133 billion, mostly coming from public sources. 

We urgently need to increase investment in high-quality nature-based solutions as they currently receive only a small proportion of existing climate-mitigation financing, which does not reflect their importance or full potential.


Nature-based solutions are crucial not only because they can deliver up to one third of the reductions needed in greenhouse gas emissions, but also because they have benefits in conserving biodiversity and strengthening the resilience of local communities. Furthermore, recent estimates suggest that nature-based solutions focusing on reforestation and afforestation could generate USD 800 billion in annual revenues by 2050 (Vivid Economics 2020). In a nutshell, scaling up investments in nature-based solutions and stepping up their implementation is the best insurance policy of all (Science for Environment Policy, European Commission, 2021).

Unprecedented global attention is now given to the importance of nature-based solutions in the effort to build back better following the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, strong commitments have been made by the G20 countries to accelerate efforts toward the achievement of their Net Zero targets. Meanwhile, companies are moving from cosmetic Corporate Social Responsibility commitments to genuine interest in investing in carbon footprint reductions and addressing supply chain challenges.

Looking forward, evidence suggests that there will be a substantial increase in future private sector finance for nature, which may help reduce the biodiversity financing gap to around USD 327 billion (The Little Book on Investing in Nature, 2021). To achieve this, it is key that all stakeholders including government agencies, development institutions, and farmers work together to develop collaborative approaches to the stewardship of natural capital.


Resilient Landscapes is a new ambitious initiative created by CIFOR-ICRAF. Resilient Landscapes develops science-backed business cases for investment in nature-based solutions and forges strategic alliances among companies, financial investors, governments, and farmers to promote investments towards zero-carbon, biodiversity conservation, and the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) across landscapes and agricultural commodity supply chains.

Its mission is to massively scale up investments and impact in nature-based solutions across landscapes and agricultural commodity supply chains by leveraging science and evidence; mobilizing private finance; facilitating long-term public-private partnerships; ensuring Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) compliance; and assessing and managing risks for all involved stakeholders.

The initiative undertakes design of scalable, sound, investable projects with high impact potential based on detailed technical, social and environmental analysis and scientific research and evidence. Its projects are co-designed and co-located with the public sector, private sector and local communities to attract a win-win investment portfolio. Moreover, Resilient Landscapes advises on ESG metrics and assist with sustainability and climate-risk reporting.

To date, Resilient Landscapes has already embarked on three transformative projects:

Forestry and Carbon
Papua New Guinea: Managalas Forest, Oro Province       
Northern Papua, Indonesia. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR

This project was commissioned by the Governor of the Oro Province, Gary Juffa, and is being designed together with the PNG government, as well as the local communities who are the legal stewards of the land.

The aim:

  • Empower the 150 clans and 22,000 households living in the Mangalas protected forest,
  • Leverage carbon financing at premium offset prices
  • Develop sustainable supply chains that maintain the natural forest’s natural capital
  • Support local communities through sustainable timber production, sustainable tree-crop commodities (cocoa, coffee, rubber, oil palm), diversified agricultural systems, enhanced value chains and value webs,  and ecosystem services.

Land Restoration and Bioenergy Production for Local Economic Growth in Serbia

The Autonomous Province of Vojvodina in Serbia is a regional breadbasket, with large tracts of fertile, flat land. However, rural poverty is increasing, soils often show signs of degradation, and agricultural production is deteriorating. As a result, the Government of Serbia has declared its commitment to regenerate local economy and make it part of its domestic agenda to source clean, affordable energy. Fuel Wood, produced domestically, can be a large part of the answer.

This investment opportunity proposes a landscape transformation program in Vojvodina, restoring the link between existing resources and local economic networks in the agricultural landscape on one hand, and the demand for woody biomass on the other hand, while simultaneously regenerating vital landscape functions. 

This project meets concrete local business demand and will bring much-needed positive socio-environmental impact to the region. Over a period of 10 years, this project will develop up to 40,000 ha of Short-Rotation Plantations (SRP), a proven technique that can produce woody biomass at very competitive yields and can be managed as a soil regeneration technique at the same time. Moreover, it will enhance tree cover by deploying agroforestry along field border and by permanently protecting forest and trees in the landscape. Agroforestry interventions will be targeted to offer extended tree cover and restore key landscape functions. Better erosion control, a greater contribution to climate change mitigation, and improved air-quality regulation are just some of the many positive outcomes expected.

Brazil: Oil palm agroforestry to restore soils and biodiversity
Oil Palm factory worker, Brazil. Photo by Miguel Pinheiro/CIFOR

This project proposes to scale-up an extremely innovative way of producing palm oil, in association with other tree crops like cocoa, açai, timber trees, and non-timber like pepper.

This model was born out of a CIFOR-ICRAF experiment implemented over more than 10 years accumulating data and feedback on several agroforestry patterns on 60 ha.

The project will grow this to a scale that will demonstrate the viability of a steady supply chain to contribute to feed a pressing demand from cosmetic and food industries in sustainable palm oil.

The project’s agroforestry systems will be developed on former pasture or fallow, land types that are usually not valued much and that often present a certain degree of degradation.

This is expected to generate a wide range of socio-environmental impact, but the most remarkable ones will be in the following dimensions:

  • Empower of smallholder farmers to manage agroforestry systems autonomously
  • Increase the revenue per hectare compared to previous land uses
  • Create of a source of sustainable palm oil in Northern Brazil, meeting both environmental and social aspects of sustainability
  • Sequester CO2 in trees and restored soils
  • Revitalize soils and reconnect landscape biodiversity

This project will be inserted into a wider program to promote all sorts of agroforestry systems in the region, not only those including oil palm. This is expected to create a critical mass of empowered farmers who will work as a showroom for agroforestry in the region.

Resilient Landscapes offers its stakeholders the opportunity to invest and play a pivotal role in its unique institutional innovation, programmes and projects. Join the movement! Learn more at