Achievements, Challenges and Ways Forward for the Satoyama Development Mechanism: A Self-Assessment by the SDM Secretariat

Achievements, Challenges and Ways Forward for the Satoyama Development Mechanism: A Self-Assessment by the SDM Secretariat

Published: 2020.07.07
Accepted: 2020.07.06
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan
University College Dublin, Ireland, and Justus Liebig University, Germany, Joint Master Programme
Stanford University
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan


Socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes (SEPLS) are “dynamic mosaics of habitats and land uses where the harmonious interaction between people and nature maintains biodiversity while providing humans with the goods and services needed for their livelihoods, survival and wellbeing in a sustainable manner.” Globally, SEPLS constitute vital components of biological and cultural diversity.

The Satoyama Initiative was initiated in 2010 to lead an international effort towards sustainability in SEPLS, and thereby to contribute to the realization of “living in harmony with nature” as envisaged in the United Nations 2050 global biodiversity vision. The International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI) was established to promote collective efforts of diverse stakeholders for realization of this vision [as laid out in the IPSI Strategy and Plan of Action?].[1] As of October 2018, IPSI has 240 members including national and local governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), research institutes, private companies and international organizations.

The Satoyama Development Mechanism (SDM) is a seed funding programme that supports selected projects proposed by IPSI members. These projects commit to the retention and enhancement of biodiversity and improvement of human well-being in SEPLS. The SDM has supported 30 projects since its establishment in 2013 up to April 2018. Of these, 20 are completed and have been recognized as generating good outcomes. They have demonstrated the unique value of SEPLS in terms of providing for human needs while conserving nature. The SDM Advisory Group and Executive Board requested the Secretariat to produce this report in 2017 to assess the overall achievement of the SDM and to inform its future developments.

This report centred on the way and the extent to which the SDM projects contributed to the IPSI Strategic Objectives, and to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (ABTs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The IPSI Strategic Objectives are, in short, to: (1) increase knowledge about SEPLS; (2) address the drivers of the loss and degradation of SEPLS; (3) enhance benefits from SEPLS; and (4) enhance capacities. We referred to the 78 ABT generic indicators (CBD, 2016) and 244 SDG indicators (UNSD, 2018) in analyzing the contributions of the SDM projects to the ABTs and the SDGs. The analysis used information from the implementation plan and final evaluation report, as well as the responses to an online survey submitted by the SDM grantees. We identified a total of 124 interventions, representing different policy instruments, among the 30 projects, and then analyzed their contributions to the above three goal sets.

We further explored the possibility that the SDM projects were likely to induce transformative change[2], with particular focus on the policy uptake of the project outputs, the mobilization of additional investments, partnership building and outreach.

Key findings

Achieving the IPSI Strategic Objectives

Each SDM project implemented a mix of instruments to address complex socio-ecological issues. These instruments can be broadly categorized as ‘legal and regulatory’, ‘economic and financial’, ‘rights-based’, ‘social and information’, ‘management’ and ‘innovative and integrative’. These instruments contributed to the four IPSI Strategic Objectives. The contribution to Objective 4 ‘enhance capacities’ was the highest, followed by the Objective 1 ‘increase knowledge’, Objective 3 ‘enhance benefits’ and Objective 2 ‘address drivers’.

Contributing to the ABTs and the SDGs

SDM projects contributed mostly to the ABTs on awareness of biodiversity issues (Target 1), primary production and other ecosystem services (14, 4, 7), values and knowledge (2 and 18); as well as to the SDGs on aquatic and terrestrial life (Goals 14, 15), their primary productions (2, 12) and partnerships (17). The results also revealed possible synergies among these Targets and Goals in SEPLS. The total contribution to the SDGs was substantially less than that to the ABTs. This may imply that the SDG indicators, which largely rely on global and national statistics, cannot effectively capture the results of efforts and trends in SEPLS.

Towards a transformative change

Although the SDM project outcomes were limited by their short project duration and small scale, we observed their effect to induce a transformative change. Most SDM projects demonstrated progress in policy uptake and support, including the integration of project outputs into national and sub-national law, plans and strategies. Most projects also obtained additional funding to continue after the SDM project ended. 164 organizations were involved in the projects across different sectors, and proactive outreach was demonstrated through numerous publications, presentations or media broadcasts by grantees.


The following recommendations are based on the key findings presented in this report:

  • Field practitioners can initiate and champion SEPLS initiatives that reflect the needs and aspirations of local stakeholders, and SEPLS initiatives that contribute towards achieving multiple ABTs and SDGs.
  • Field practitioners, governments and international organizations including donors can coordinate, promote, or participate in multi-stakeholder initiatives. Outputs of multi-stakeholder initiatives are more likely to influence policy, secure long-term funding, build partnerships and reach more stakeholders.
  • Governments and international organizations can highlight the contribution of SEPLS to global sustainability in relevant international processes.
  • Field practitioners, governments and international organizations can collectively develop localized SDG indicators for SEPLS.

[1] For more information on IPSI, visit the IPSI website (, or contact the IPSI Secretariat (

[2] Defined as “a system-wide change that requires more than technological change through consideration of social and economic factors that, with technology, can bring about rapid change at scale.” (IPCC, 2018, p559)