Agroforestry into its fifth decade: local responses to global challenges and goals in the Anthropocene

  •  In its fifth decade agroforestry is a drive to greater policy synergy between technologies, landscapes, rights and markets to achieve restoration of multifunctionality in a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) context
  • Bottom-up interest in sustainable and profitable land use interacts with concerns at livelihood and landscapes scale (rights, migration, livelihoods and ecosystem services) and nation al and international policy agendas with their top-down goal-setting and instruments
  • Three broad groups of SDG coexist: A) articulating demand for further human resource appropriation, B) sustaining the resource base, and C) redistributing power and benefits
  • The FEWI (food, energy, water, income) agenda can be reflected in a broadened LER (land equivalence ratio) concept of land-sparing through -sharing in multifunctional landscapes
  • A new ‘Anthropocene equation’ relates planetary boundaries to population, affluence, life style, waste and land use technology, with multiple resilience concepts as connections with a new agroforestry agenda
  • Synergy between agriculture and forestry can evolve from recognizing coexistence and agreed boundaries towards joint land use programs and innovation in a circular economy

Chapter 1 outlined the evolution of agroforestry as a concept at plot/farm, landscape and policy scales, with all three coexisting in the current links between praxis, knowledge and policy. Chapter 19 ended with the need for policies that seek and support SDG synergy in pursuit of landscapes that not only produce goods for existing markets, but also provide the services that ‘downstream’ stakeholders have in the past taken for granted but do miss when they are affected. We will here focus on the third agroforestry paradigm and the need for reinventing the interfaces between agriculture and forestry in the food, energy, water and income nexus1 as part of addressing the challenges of the Anthropocene, the geological era dominated by a single (our own) species.

The formulation of Millennium Development Goals, precursor to current Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) brought the ending of poverty and the need for environmental sustainability on the same ‘goal’ level in high-level discourse2. It allowed multifunctional land uses, such as agroforestry, to gain wider support3. With the SDG agendab of the United Nations, agreed upon by 193 countries in September 2015, the debate has shifted from ‘willingness’ to ‘ability to act’. Because the human brain is challenged when a list contains more than 3-5 items, there have been many attempts to group the 17 SDGs4,5. One way (Figure 19.2) is to recognize five groups: 1) SDG 1-5 deal with multiple dimensions of poverty (food, income, health, education, gender), 2) SDG 6-9 with development infrastructure (water, energy), 3) SDG 10-12 with the fairness-efficiency balance, 4) SDG 13-15 with ecological infrastructure, and 5) SDG 16 and 17 with institutions. A further grouping sees a group of goals that articulate increased demand for resources (including food, energy, water)6, a group that tries to maintain the resource base and a group modifying access to resources, power and benefit distribution (including gender and youth-based distinctions beyond homogeneous household perspectives)7. Despite critique on the goals (“By attempting to cover all that is good and desirable in society, these targets have ended up as vague, weak, or meaningless”)8 and comments from the science community9 that were only very partially taken to heart, they are still the most legitimate attempt at global governance so far, deserving efforts to try and make it work10.

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