Scoping long-term pathways for sustainable land use in Ethiopia

As part of the FABLE Consortium, SDSN participated in the 2nd Annual Conference on Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy (14-15 May, Addis Ababa) which also launched the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) in Ethiopia.
FOLU session at the 2nd Annual Conference of Ethiopia’s CRGE. Panelists from left to right: Dr. Gete Zeleke, WLRC-AAU; Dr. Firew Woldeyes, EDRI; Ato Techane Adugna, Synergos; Norbert Henninger, WRI.

In late 2017, SDSN and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) launched the Food, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Land Use and Energy (FABLE) Pathways Consortium to bring together leading research institutions which form more than 20 country and regional teams. Members of the consortium collaborate to develop integrated long-term pathways towards sustainable land-use and food systems consistent with the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. The FABLE analyses will also assess international spillover effects to ensure that national pathways are consistent with global objectives.

Recently, as part of the FABLE Consortium, SDSN participated in the 2nd Annual Conference on Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy (14-15 May, Addis Ababa) which also launched the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) in Ethiopia.

Benefitting from the CRGE’s strategy and findings, the program of FOLU in Ethiopia pushes for a fundamental transformation of the economy to address interconnected sectoral challenges. The focus areas of this program will include boosting agricultural productivity; increasing forest areas; ensuring food and nutrition security; shifting future protein supply to poultry; promoting sustainable land and water management; and advancing renewable and cleaner energy for urban and rural communities.

FOLU is supported by a global Ambassador network, leading civil society, scientific, public and private actors across multiple sectors, equipped with a shared vision of working, sustainable food and land use systems in 2050. Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and a FOLU Ambassador, gave a keynote on the launch of FOLU Ethiopia and shared her experience on international examples of facilitating action across government, business, and communities for a climate-resilient, sustainable, and integrated, food and land use system.

In particular, she praised Ethiopia’s role model for Africa in the last decade on poverty alleviation, respect for the environment, food security, economic growth, and jobs creation. For Africa as a whole, she highlighted the need for increasing and improving agricultural production to enable poverty alleviation. For this, she mentioned the necessity to acquire new technologies, to grow different crops for various agro-ecologies, and to find the right types of fertilizers. She also underscored the importance of discussing market access with policy-makers who decide how land is used, in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises that reach small communities.

On ecosystem and biodiversity preservation, Dr. Kalibata drew an example from her home country, Rwanda, where communities living in such areas have been taught about how to protect fragile areas and, in some cases, those areas have been transformed into protected natural parks which then generate some revenues that are distributed to the local population. Finally, she concluded by stating that today the aim is not to use more land but to use it more efficiently and that poverty should be tackled at the global level, not only at the local level.

As a whole, FOLU Ethiopia aims to build the narrative for a roadmap that can guide sustainable food and land use systems within the national context.

This event brought together the following partners of FOLU Ethiopia: the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources; the National Planning Commission of Ethiopia; the National Integrated Land Use Planning and Policy Project Office, Prime Minister’s Office; Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency; the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI); the Water and Land Resource Centre, Addis Ababa University (AAU); Synergos; the World Resources Institute; and SDSN.

Additional FOLU partners also include IIASA; EAT Foundation; the World Business Council on Sustainable Development; and Systemiq.

FOLU Ethiopia’s work program and partners.

As part of FOLU, long-term FABLE pathways and science-based targets will be developed for Ethiopia in collaboration with the FABLE Consortium’s local team based at EDRI. Under the FOLU Ethiopia program of work, the FABLE component is located under “Focus Area 1: Science-based targets & Pathways, Roadmap, and Ambassadors”.

In practical terms, this means that the FABLE Secretariat and EDRI will develop or expand geospatial modeling tools and analyses covering agriculture, bioenergy, food security, diets, water, biodiversity, and other critical dimensions of food and land-use systems. For example, in Ethiopia experts at EDRI have highlighted the need to also include urbanization as a cross-cutting sector. As the second most populated country in Africa, Ethiopia’s “urban population is projected to nearly triple from 15.2 million in 2012 to 42.3 million in 2037” (World Bank Group. 2015. Ethiopia Urbanization Review: Urban Institutions for a Middle-Income Ethiopia. World Bank, Washington, DC) thus creating more land-use constraints.

FOLU and FABLE’s 3 + 2 pillars of sustainable land-use and food systems that are used in all FOLU/FABLE countries and are adapted by the local institutions’ to match the country’s priorities and strategies.

The aim of the FABLE Consortium, as a group and as individual country teams, is to have analytical models that consolidate relevant gridded data in an economic modelling framework that allows for dynamic land-use choices across the 3+2 pillars and other country priorities while assessing their geospatial implications. This will be used by decision-makers to test the implications of different policy options and consider economic as well as social implications of different land-use and food system strategies for achieving the objectives of the UNFCCC and country commitments to the Paris Agreement, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, Bonn Challenge and the SDGs.

FOLU in Ethiopia is supported with the generous funding of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI).

To learn more about FOLU in Ethiopia please read the Op-Ed in the Addis Fortune written by Gemedo Dalle (PhD) and Paul Polman: A Way Forward for Food, Land Use in Ethiopia. Gemedo Dalle (PhD) is the Ethiopian Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, and Paul Polman is the CEO of Unilever and Chair of The Food & Land Use Coalition.