Evaluation of the Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes (ISLA) programme

Project

In september 2023, KIT completed a mid-term evaluation of the Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes, an international land use management programme of the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), financed by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The evaluation assesses whether ISLA is on track to reach its goals, and provides recommendations for the second half of the programme.

ISLA is being implemented in a variety of landscapes worldwide. Seven of these are covered in the evaluation: Mato Grosso (Brazil), Grand Mbam (Cameroon), Cavally (Côte d’Ivoire), Dembel-Shalla sub-basin (Ethiopia), West Kalimantan (Indonesia), South West Mau Forest (Kenya), and Central Highlands (Vietnam). ISLA seeks to build sustainable governance models in these landscapes, making use of the PPI approach. The approach aims for agricultural products to be grown sustainably (Production), forests and natural resources to be safeguarded (Protection), and communities to thrive (Inclusion). 

The ultimate objective of ISLA is to reduce and eliminate deforestation, restore and protect forests and natural ecosystem, and improve incomes for farmers and forest communities. This is to be achieved through transformational change at landscape level by means of convening multi-stakeholder coalitions (MSCs). MSCs comprise of stakeholders at multiple levels of government jurisdiction, including local communities, farmers, women and youth, local and international NGOs, local public authorities, and local and multinational private companies. These MSCs agree on and commit to sustainability targets for their jurisdiction, through a so-called Production, Protection and Inclusion (PPI) Compact. Pilot projects are then co-developed with the public and private sector to test innovative business models that can contribute to the goals of the Compact.

Landscapes with a Compact are linked to potential commodity buyers and (green) investors through an online platform called SourceUp, and also through other linking activities – e.g. technical assistance, preparing investment plans, searching for investors. These activities should help in scaling-up sustainable business models and incentivize the landscapes to become self-sustaining. ISLA aims to drive impact in three result areas: 1) improved landscape governance, 2) changes in business practices, and 3) field-level sustainability.

About the Evaluation

The mid-term evaluation performed by KIT followed a theory-based approach using principles of contribution analysis, whereby evidence was gathered on the progress against the Theory of Change (ToC) to come to landscape-level contribution stories. Also, the OECD evaluation criteria were used to assess the overall programme and its approach. Data sources included 1) programme documents and reports and other programme data; 2) interviews with key informants; 3) Sprockler storytelling survey; 4) geo-spatial data; and 5) focus group discussions (for Vietnam only).

Results

For IDH, the purpose of the mid-term evaluation, besides accountability to the donor, is to learn, to inform strategic decision-making, and to instruct corrective actions if needed. The evaluation report provides insights on the OECD evaluation criteria, strengths and weaknesses of the programme and its approach, and key recommendations on how to improve the programme. These insights are provided for each landscape individually as well as for the ISLA programme as a whole.

The evaluation report can be found via the link below.