Ep. 28: Willem Ferwerda – CEO of Commonland Group ||
Today on Sourcing Matters ep. 28 we welcome Willem Ferwerda – CEO of the Commonland Group. Based out of the Netherlands, Commonland believes that landscape restoration offers tremendous untapped opportunities for sustainable economic development. To demonstrate this potential, they develop landscape restoration projects that are based on business cases, and proper monitoring of their successes using multi-dimensional returns. With current projects in Southern Africa, Spain, Western Australia, and the Netherlands – Commonland engages with multidisciplinary teams of investors, companies, and entrepreneurs in long-term restoration partnerships with farmers and land-users. Already, the approach has cast new expectations for what returns represent to each of the different stakeholders.
The goal of Commonland is to realize large-scale landscape restoration with local farmers, land-users and experts based on sustainable business cases with each impact being assessed through a matrix monitoring diverse returns that connect natural and economic landscape zones through a multi-stakeholder initiative benefiting all parties. Willem founded Commonland with the idea the long-term commitment is important, as it takes approximately 20 years – or one generation – to restore a landscape. Their holistic restoration approach focuses on the 4 key returns of Inspiration, Social, Natural, Financial. Those returns combine to define a baseline for their long-horizon mission – which is to contribute to a large-scale landscape restoration industry, aligned with international policies and guidelines throughout a shrinking planet.
Maybe Teddy said it best: “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. I ask nothing of the nation except that it so behaves as each farmer here behaves with reference to his own children. That farmer is a poor creature who skins the land and leaves it worthless to his children. The farmer is a good farmer who, having enabled the land to support himself and to provide for the education of his children, leaves it to them a little better than he found it himself. I believe the same thing of a nation.”
– Theodore Roosevelt: The 1910 New Nationalism Speech
- 4 Returns, 3 Zones, 20 Years: A Holistic Framework for Ecological Restoration by People and Business for Next Generations (pdf)
- Green Gold 2 Documentary (video) / full film
- Motion Graphic Video: 4 returns
- Willem Ferwerda bio
- Royal Address, speech to the Dutch Parliament in 2017 (pdf download)
- IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management