Sustainable land use systems: A way to help achieve Colombia’s climate change mitigation and peacebuilding goals


by Maria Eliza Villarino | Mar 12, 2019

Colombia has set ambitious targets to mitigate climate change and achieve stability. One promising approach to help achieve those simultaneously is designing and promoting sustainable land use systems that incorporate the views of all the stakeholders in the value chain.

In this interview, Dr. Augusto Castro-Nuñez, a climate policy and finance scientist at the Sustainable Food Systems Team within CIAT’s Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area who coordinates the SLUS project, sheds light on how a sustainable land use system can contribute to Colombia’s climate change mitigation and peacebuilding goals and how to develop such a system.

What is a sustainable land use system?

A sustainable land use system may come in different forms depending on the context and location. Overall, it meets livelihood aspirations in ways that are sustainable and that maintain environmental integrity.

In the context of the SLUS project, sustainable land use systems are agricultural and livestock production systems that, by meeting the pillars of sustainability — environmental, social, and economic — contribute to achieving not only Colombia’s environmental goals, such as reducing deforestation, restoring lands, and mitigating climate change, but also other objectives, including building peace and improving livelihoods in rural areas, especially those affected by the country’s conflict.

Sustainable land use systems designed and promoted within the SLUS project will combine two kinds of approaches that have not been fully integrated yet. One is adopting land-based approaches, which seek to contribute to the conservation of forests by promoting sustainable land uses, an approach that focuses on land use decisions taken at the local level. The other is using market-based approaches, which are evolving into sustainable food system approaches. It has a perspective that considers value change relations and food choices by consumers. Diets and increase in food consumption, for example, have an impact on land uses.

To ensure its effectiveness, a sustainable land use system should be tailored to a specific context. That means its design must be informed by an in-depth understanding of enabling conditions, existing institutional arrangements, and agricultural value chain actors. Fostering adoption of promising land use systems will also require upgrading strategies, which incorporate financial and nonfinancial incentives and services, within the value chain.