Theme C: Ecosystems & Biodiversity

The role for business in sustainable land management and landscape restoration. Healthy landscapes and water systems are the basis of our life.

However, a quarter of the world’s land mass is seriously degraded from centuries of human activity. Degradation of land is related to major themes like climate change, food and water security, and biodiversity decline. These relate directly to well-being, security, poverty and migration. Prevention of land degradation and the restoration of landscapes is thus one of the most important tasks of our time. Through their operations, businesses impact and depend on land in either a direct or indirect way. Business is a key actor, and the power of business can be harnessed to prevent and reduce land degradation and accelerate restoration of degraded landscapes. In return, sustainable land management and landscape restoration can help companies secure, sustain, and improve their operations in the long run. As such, preventing further land degradation and stimulating landscape restoration is a pre-condition for the long-term resilience of many existing businesses and will boost the development of new sustainable business models and operations. Our Scientific Director Steve Kennedy explains more in this interview.

Executive Fellow Willem Ferwerda has developed a practical holistic approach to involve business in landscape restoration based on sustainable business models that generate 4 returns®: return of inspiration, return of social capital, return of natural capital, and return of financial capital.

To effect real change in mindsets, it is essential to train the next generation of business leaders and business developers in such a way that business realizes its interdependency with ecosystems.

This will require the introduction of new education curricula in business schools. Doing so will enable companies to attract dedicated and passionate people who understand the value of land resources and who know how to incorporate this into the strategic and operational decisions of their business. Hence, these people will serve as change agents in their respective business sectors (e.g. agri-food, water, beverages, extractive industry, and infrastructure).

With a consortium of partners, the Centre for Eco-transformation leads the Erasmus+-funded project ENABLE. The main goal of the European Network for the Advancement of Business and Landscape Education (ENABLE) is to establish a European education platform to create awareness about the functioning of ecosystems and the benefits of sustainable landscape management that involves renowned academic partners, private business, public sectors and NGOs in developing innovative and high quality education. This education can bridge the gap and help tackle global challenges as defined in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (eg. SDG 15.3 on Land Degradation Neutrality) and the in the EU 6th Environment Action Programme (Decision No 1600/2002/EC), and the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020.

The ENABLE objectives are:

  1. To create an inter- and transdisciplinary educational framework with innovative e-learning components that will help bridge the gap between economy and ecology, accelerate the much-needed change and help establish a “landscape management & restoration industry”
  2. To teach and train business students to become generators of sustainable value for business and society at large and to work towards an inclusive and sustainable global economy
  3. To initiate and facilitate dialogue and debate among educators, students, business, government, consumers, media, civil society organisations and other interested groups and stakeholders on critical issues related to global social responsibility and sustainability in general and in particular to prevention of landscape degradation and restoration.

Key publications