New ‘stewardship economy’ concept promises environmentally sustainable market systems

Model for financial mechanisms to ensure producers are stewards of nature

A farmer in an agroforested bolaina (West Indian elm) tree plantation in Peru. Juan Carlos Huayllapuma, CIFOR
13 October 2021
13 October 2021

The ‘stewardship economy’ will be presented at GLF Climate, a three-day digital and in-person event alongside COP26. Join here.

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.

Aldo Leopold, American conservationist and forester

Throughout history, human cultures have maintained a relationship with nature that fits today’s definition of “stewardship”: carefully and responsibly managing something that has been entrusted to one’s care.

A new concept developed by the scientific community of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), World Agroforestry (ICRAF) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) couples this approach to environmental management with the reform of supply and value chains, as the global scientific community has deemed necessary to achieving emissions reductions and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The “stewardship economy,” as this model is called, ensures that people harvesting resources from the natural world, both for themselves and to feed into international markets, are equitably rewarded for managing their production processes in an environmentally safe way. Financial mechanisms such as conditional cash transfers are employed to bridge the gap between affordable market prices of products and the true price of their sustainable production, while social justices such as land and tenure rights and inclusion in decision-making processes afford voice and livelihood assuredness.

In this way, the stewardship economy blends principles from the landscape approach a holistic approach to land management with those of democracy to create profitable pathways for those who feed produce vital goods and commodities to act as true stewards of the Earth. “We believe almost all the tools and elements of a stewardship economy exist already, in one form or the other; what has been missing has been an effort to put the parts together into a greater whole,” reads the original statement on the concept, which will continue to be developed and advocated alongside environmental and economic reform processes.

Read more on Forests News.

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