20 September 2018

Insights from policy-makers & experts on land restoration

On the 20th of September 2018, a meeting was held at the Clingendael Institute to discuss a new report by the Planetary Security Initiative that aimed at assessing to what extent landscape restoration initiatives may address migration in Africa.

The issue of land degradation and restoration is receiving increasing attention from policymakers with regard to addressing the root causes of migration. Landscape restoration initiatives in Africa have political momentum, with African political leaders endorsing restoration initiatives such as the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) and the Great Green Wall Initiative.

This meeting aimed at addressing policy-relevant discussions of the connection between landscape restoration and migration.

Following the presentation of the report, engaging and insightful views were shared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, by the UNCD coordinator of the Triple S Initiative and by Wetlands International. The exchange was moderated by André Braser from the NLandscape Platform. We extend our thanks and appreciation to every speaker, participants, and moderator.

Among the opinions and recommendation were:

  • Opportunity for development

Landscape restoration may provide for the sustainable economic development, especially for displaced people in the region. Nevertheless, the slow return on investment and the lack of efficient local banking institutions in many cases impede projects.

  • Diminish migration incentives

Landscape restoration may address some reasons that push migrants to leave their lands by providing livelihoods at home, but it cannot address the reasons that pull people toward the “better” life they may find abroad. Most migration is rarely about poverty, it is often about prospects and aspirations.

  • Tran-sectoral integration is key

Further, land restoration can only be approached in a holistic approach that needs to integrate stability, economic opportunities, agro-sector investment, and sustainable biodiversity.

  • From macro to micro, every actor should have their says

At its core, an integrated approach is needed between donors, investors, foreign interests, the concerned state, and local communities. Involving all those actors together would allow the development of a realistic and sensitive technique that can be transmitted among the communities and the regions.

  • More research would allow identifying successes and impacts

There is a clear need to further scientific knowledge and to avoid a silo-perspective in projects. An inclusive analysis of the best-given practices is needed to bolster initiatives. 

  • May help to counter terrorist recruitment…

On one hand, land restoration may provide security benefices by employing disfranchise people and providing prospects for the youths thus diminishing the attraction certain terrorist or insurgent groups might have.

  • …But without a post-restoration plan, it may create conflicts

On the other hand, restored lands might also foster conflicts. Especially if mismanaged or if no clear plan of reinsertion has been set into motion since the attractiveness of those lands may create a larger influx of people than the restored lands can absorb.