Collective impact for regenerative land, ocean, and food

“Risk is interconnected but our response is not.”

The Community Impact Fund

“Risk is interconnected but our response is not”. Herein lies the problem. Our response to climate change in Te Tai Tokerau specifically, and Aotearoa and the rest of the planet more broadly is, at best fractured. Observing institutions here, I see how their climate action agendas are driven by a cascade of policy from the IPCC down that mostly confines them to adaptation. This creates a false dichotomy between mitigation and adaptation and leaves us with a climate leadership void.

How risk is interconnected

As I write this the Gisborne region has been hit by another “one in a hundred-year” weather event. It is impacting the same communities as last year’s “one in a hundred-year” event. Flood, drought, and fire are connected. The consequences of inappropriate land-use and poor land-use planning and decision-making degrade soils that lead to flood, fire, and drought. Downstream risks are food and nutritional insecurity, rising insurance costs or the prospect of uninsurability, population displacement, income loss, and the financial burden of repairing and replacing infrastructure. Consider the stakeholders relevant to this web of interconnected risk. They are too numerous to list here, but there is not much evidence of collaboration to address interconnected risk. Based on the following image, which stage of development do you think we are at Te Tai Tokerau in addressing the climate crisis?

Image credit, The Homeless Plan

Collective impact

According to the Collective Impact Forum, “Collective impact brings people together in a structured way to achieve social change.” As such it may be a great way to remediate interconnected risk. Here are the five broadly agreed conditions of Collective Impact.

The five conditions of collective impact. Image credit, Impact Matters

There are clear links in the risks evident in our food systems including production on land and sea, processing, distribution and retail. The health system is also inextricably linked. Add to that the other non-food land use and there is a huge canvas for collaboration to regenerate these systems. In addressing these risks there are many opportunities to generate economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being, including healing the climate.

In this video Shauna Alexander Mohr talks about Collective Impact and how it is applied to support coffee growers in Nicuragua. Fair Trade and similar initiatives deliver a better price to growers, but looking deeper coffee buyers found that by itself, Fair Trade wasn’t enough. Because of the seasonal nature of the work, after harvest was completed, many growers and their families stuggled with months of hunger. The Coffeelands Food Security Coalition was formed to find solutions.

A 2019 Coffeelands document reported progress for coffee growers in Columbia. From 2012 to 2017 coffee growers received a stable price 32% higher than the traditional market price generating multiple benefits for both the grower and the buyers. Benefits are summarised here, in what looks very much like a regenerative spiral.

Image credit: Coffeelands and Catholic Relief Services

The report cites several growers including this one:

I started to sell coffee at Caravella where I received good prices and could start to organize my farm better. My economic situation improved 100% and this allowed me to improve my home, my farm infrastructure, and drying station. I could pay for my children’s education and also started to grow more coffee as I believe it coffee is the best product that can allow me to live with dignity.

Anonymous coffee grower cited in “Evaluating the Impact opf Direct Trade with Small-scale Coffee Producers in Tolima, Colombia” available here.

Would your organisation be keen to collaborate on a Collective Impact project for regenerating land, ocean and the food system in Te Tai Tokerau? If so, please get in touch.

Header image: One of Owen Schafli’s young coffee trees at Parua Bay

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