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In 5 years we will set the foundation for a 20-year national programme of landscape restoration, aiming at community and nature resilience.



Haitians experience frequent natural disasters. Deforestation and over-grazing diminish the island’s buffer function in the event of natural disasters and put food security at risk. Emergency relief helps the people affected but does nothing to address the underlying causes of poverty and vulnerability. The Red Cross (RC) and Commonland are joining forces to achieve a structural solution by regenerating the country’s natural resilience and that of its residents.

Over the next five years, we will be laying the foundation for a 20-year national programme. We will focus our initial efforts on Côtes de Fer, Bainet and La Vallée de Jacmel , all three located on the south coast. Together with local communities and experts, we will spend these five years creating three pearls of safe and thriving communities, which will form the basis for creating 30 such pearls in the whole of Haiti, in one generation.

Based on Commonland’s 4 returns vision in combination with the RC Community Resilience Framework (denominated the “4Returns4Resilience” (4R4R)), we are working on improving ecosystem management, developing infrastructure, stimulating local business activity and strengthening disaster risk management. Via a co-creation process (U-Theory) we are creating a long-term vision, in cooperation with all those who have an interest in the districts: farmers, entrepreneurs, local universities, government bodies and officials, NGO’s, experts and international institutions like the UN and the World Bank. With its years of presence in Haiti the RC can build on a solid network of volunteers and good contacts with government and other parties. The RC is an expert in disaster areas and besides a good response, increasingly focuses on measures to limit disasters’ impact. In the humanitarian aid programmes run by the RC, which include preventive measures, the combination with landscape models is gradually becoming the new standard.

Is this proposal for a practice or a project?


What actions do you propose?

The Haiti Restoring Paradise Activity Plan is divided into three main sections (A, B and C):

A. Sustainably managed and restored agricultural land with enhanced productivity

  1. Awareness Raising and Skills Training on erosion prevention
  2. Eco DRR Measures (including building check dams)
  3. Reforestation

Design and implement strategy for natural restoration

  1. Assess of flora and fauna
  2. Assessment plan with Government
  3. Connect with Haitian Universities ((Université Quisqueya, Université d’Etat d’Haiti) and other institutions working on similar issues (e.g. ICRAF, World Agroforestry, FAO etc.)
  4. Meetings with relevant stakeholders (small groups)
  5. Design and implement carbon credit strategy
  6. Design and build nursery and needs
  7. Workshops with relevant stakeholders (co-initiation)

Enhance community based organization agricultural capacity

  1. Assess status specific farms (total nr. of farms to be defined)
  2. Best practices analysis
  3. Expert consultation
  4. Training for farmers

Setting up a farming field training team (center of excellence)

  1. Train agronomists
  2. Train the trainer model (align with universities and permaculture organization)


B. Enhanced local Early Action systems with community-led contingency planning, organisation and implementation.

  1. Capacity building Infrastructures and resilience assessed and identified
  2. Crucial intervention areas identified
  3. Design of specific training programs based on target group

Vulnerability Capacity Assessment and Commune Action Planning

  1. Community needs identified and included in the Community Development Plan (by Government)
  2. Community status in relation to Integrated Risk Assessment
  3. Infrastructures and resilience assessed and identified

Set-Up a mechanism for Early Warning and Early Response.

Design of specific training programs based on target group

Contingency Stock

Awareness Raising

  1. Inspirational community engagement (events, etc.)
  2. Workshop with relevant stakeholders

School Sensitization days

  1. Training and education around 4Returns approach

Planning Monitoring and Evaluation plan designed and implemented

C. Business development

Capacity Building on Business Development

  1. Identify capacity skills gaps
  2. Identify local partners for capacity development
  3. Meetings with relevant stakeholders

Business Incubator

  1. Assess trainings and stakeholders already involved in similar practices
  2. Identify local talent/entrepreneurs/cooperatives
  3. Support local entrepreneurs to successfully set up and grow SMEs
  4. Identify more non-land-based employment opportunities
  5. Add more value locally and connect local economy

Sustainable Value Chain Development

  1. Conduct market and opportunity analysis
  2. Support first 4 returns businesses
  3. Workshop with relevant stakeholders

Fundraising Strategy

  1. Determine relevance of financial instruments
  2. Assess best practices in financial mechanism used in Haiti
  3. Design and implement approach to secure financing

Lobby and Advocacy at National Level on Sustainable Agriculture



The main target group and beneficiaries of the proposed interventions are:  the i. local community and ii. the local businesses, as they endure significant consequences of climate change effects (such as floods and droughts) and can be a lever of change for a future resilient and thriving communities.


Operational approaches

The operational approach of the programme is based on three methodologies that will be combined into one:

i. 4 Returns landscape restoration

The 4 Returns methodology recognizes the importance of ecosystems in providing prosperity and individual and community well-being. If productivity is to be maintained in a sustainable manner, the base producing natural resources has to be restored, conserved and strengthened. The 4 Returns approach builds on environmental sustainability to create social and economic opportunities at all levels. The 4 Returns approach stands for ‘4 Returns, 3 Zones, 20 years’ approach. The approach aims to strengthen different levels: individual, communal, natural and financial.

To achieve this, it identifies and strengthens three zones critical to the community: the economic zone, the combined zone, and the natural zone. These zones are connected, and jointly contribute to restored and vibrant landscapes that are able to sustainably provide economic value.


The 4 Returns approach recognizes that it takes a long-term commitment to bring about change and takes a time perspective of one generation (around 20 years) to achieve this change in a sustainable way.

ii. The International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Framework for Community Resilience

The Framework for Community Resilience guides the RC on building community Resilience. The Framework for Community Resilience is based on several fundamental insights/ principles that need to be considered: resilience and vulnerability play at multiple inter-related levels, communities are complex and dynamic and these elements have to be understood and worked with holistically, and the process of strengthening resilience needs to be owned and driven by communities. The IFRC has shown that it is possible to strengthen community resilience through the rigorous application of specific principles, approaches and processes.

iii. Theory U

Theory U, an approach developed to manage change, was developed at the MIT Sloan School of Management by Otto Scharmer (Presencing Institute). It takes a holistic view on change and recognizes common boundaries persons have to listening and opening up to transitioning. The methodology takes participants through a process that breaks down restricting narrative and opens pathways and perspectives to change through shared learning, exploration and evolution.

The methodology is used to break through institutional deadlock and open up, by using a holistic perspective, approaches that consider, and work on, overarching issues like Climate Change, poverty, environmental issues and social well-being.

Theory U is often presented in a U-formed process where people and groups go through five distinct steps or ‘movements’.

Figure: Adapted from © Presencing Institute

The Haiti context is complex, and the issues cannot be adequately addressed by a single organization and through one fixed approach. These three approaches are synergetic and cover the complexity and key issues that has to be dealt with. The 4 Returns approach gives a perspective on how to reach and combine sustainability and prosperity through the underlying landscape approach, including a person-, community- and markets-vision. The IFRC Framework for Community Resilience adds to this a Resilience- and vulnerability-lens through which to look at communities and their dependencies. It places the overall approach into a disaster management perspective, making it applicable to a wider range of contexts. Finally, the Theory U addresses the challenges linked to effecting lasting change by changing the mind-set of stakeholders involved. This combined methodology is the ‘4 Returns-4 Resilience framework approach’.

In order to design the most urgent and site specific interventions, eight steps are usually followed: i) scouting for front runners and best regenerative agricultural practices so as to adapt to local context and build on already existing success cases (stakeholder mapping); ii) selection of pilot areas to test the interventions (one pilot per each of the 3 zones of the landscape : natural zone, combined zone and economic zone; iii) creating a shared Vision with local stakeholders using a Theory U (includes formation of local team and local community needs assessment); iv) outline 4 Returns Landscape Strategy transforming vision in 4 returns development plan with continue feed-back loops with experts in the field; v) starting pilots on the ground with immediate doable inspirational actions by local team; vi) identify fundraising/Investment for the business cases and create a co-investment base with philanthropists, governments, foundations and investors ; vii) long term 4 Returns action plan further implement and develop 4 r plan by local team. Continues learning & feedback loop; viii) A 4 Returns landscape industry continues established independent 4 Returns companies, investments and teams, monitoring & evaluation in place and replication & scalability.

These steps are done jointly by the partners joining the Landscape Restoration Partnerships. In this specific case some of the partners initially engaged are: LEOS Haiti, Haitian Red Cross, RCRC Livelihoods & DRR specialists, RCRC Climate Centre, Université Quisqueya – Haiti, Université d’Etat d’Haiti. More partners have been identified and conversations on how best to build on each other’s’ knowledge are currently undergoing (such as We Forest, the World Bank and others). 

Fostering a continuous learning process, adaptive management and systematizing success cases, we aim at replicating “Green Pearls” in the country and in the Red Cross Movement.

Community leadership and engagement

The project design is participatory, community-led and bottom-up. community engagement is a pivotal piece of the intervention and the 4R4R method leverages the best knowledge of RC and Commonland, to guarantee community participation and leadership throughout the project design and solutions' ownership; ultimately ensuring long-term sustainability of the results.

Therefore, there will not be no “forced” displacement of community members or previous land owners, as they will be involved in the solution design, and can influence those solutions that have a direct impact on them.

The integration of local knowledge with additional scientific and technical knowledge can improve disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, as it uncovers existing capacity and fosters ownership. The project combines local Haitian knowledge with landscape planning and advanced knowledge ecological restoration and reforestation (eg. Jardin Lakou traditional agroforestry methods).

The buy-in among communities of the approach is further strengthened by leveraging previous successes: NLRC and HRC have demonstrated that investment in prevention saves lives via their projects in the south-east of Haiti where they built check dams in Côtes de Fêr and Bainet.

When Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016, these dams prevented land and mudslides from reaching villages at the bottom of the ravine: there were no casualties and crops remained intact. The dams also improved water discharge, making it possible to replant native species on the hillside slopes.

Based on these positive results, the Ministry of Environment in Haiti is now recommending applying the design of these dams in other departments on the island.

Also, agricultural developments in that same area are starting to pay off and people who moved to the city are even beginning to return, as they regain hope for the future.The following video depicts the initial success: (subtitles available in English).

First Green Pearl - pilot impact estimates

The first “green pearl” pilot will build on the Resilience Framework in the Sud-Est Department, La Vallée of Jacmel (other two “green pearl” regions will follow) and on the existing grass root movement to rehabilitate local value chains in e.g. citruses and essential oils to create a powerful showcase for the 4R4R approach that could then be replicated in other areas of that region and in all Haiti eventually.

The pilot has the following impact estimates:

  • Overall impacted landscape (3 zones together, so including reforestation and afforestation, regenerative agriculture): 6,200 ha
  • Targeted Agricultural land for pilot: 150 ha (fragmented among different land owners)
  • Direct beneficiaries - Targeted Number of farmers: 100 to 800
  • Indirect beneficiaries - Families in the area: 14.000

With the advancement of project activities, based on further assessment and evaluation, more specific projected impact estimates will become clear, including for the remaining regions.

Who will take these actions?

A powerful partnership

To support the Haitian Red Cross in realizing this project, the Netherlands Red Cross and 4 Returns Partners have teamed up to combine their knowledge and experience:

The Netherlands Red Cross (NLRC) and the case for prevention

The NLRC RC is part of the largest global humanitarian organization. For years, the NLRC has been working on innovative, smart, and sustainable solutions in disaster-prone countries, including Haiti, to prevent the effects of climate change and of natural catastrophes. NLRC combines the strength of its initiatives to make the Haiti Restoring Paradise project happen.

Princess Margriet Fund (PMF)

The Netherlands Red Cross Princess Margriet Fund supports Red Cross projects that have an innovative and holistic approach to resilience-building, with prevention at its core. The Haiti Restoring Paradise is a PMF portfolio project.

Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre

Working together closely with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, the PMF is a key agent for the integration of climate change adaptation in Red Cross programming.

510 Data Initiative Netherlands Red Cross

With the objective to improve the speed, quality and cost-effectiveness of humanitarian aid by using data & digital products, the 510 team will support the Haiti Green Pearl project throughout its implementation, namely with defining the three different zones and enabling precise monitoring and evaluation.

Partners for Resilience  

Via its Partners for Resilience program the Netherlands Red Cross has broadened its approach from focusing exclusively on emergency response to including preventive measures.

The PfR program in Haiti is advancing, through dialogue and capacity building in disaster risk reduction, education and youth engagement and advocacy for mobilization of resources for implementation of integrated risk management practices at local, regional, national and cross-border levels.

Knowledge sharing and joint learning will be fostered across programs, to strengthen the impact and reach of the Haiti Restoring Paradise project.

Commonland - 4 Returns Partners

4 Returns Partners, an impact company of Commonland, was founded to accelerate the landscape restoration industry. Its holistic 4 returns, 3 zones, 20 years approach provides a practical way to realize a transition towards an economy based on the restoration of natural and productive landscapes. Thereby reversing the trend of increasing degradation.


Founded in 2016, LEOS (Laroche Essential Outsourcing Services) is a project management company committed to providing sustainable and innovative solutions for the social and economic development of Haiti (based in Port-au-Prince).

Where will these actions be taken?

We will focus our efforts on Côtes de Fer, Bainet and La Vallée de Jacmel, all three located on the south coast. In these three places we, together with local communities and experts, will spend these five years creating three pearls of safe and thriving communities, which will form the basis for creating 30 such pearls in the whole of Haiti, in one generation.

The first region to kick-off the program will be La Vallée de Jacmel.

The first phase of the Green Pearls Masterplan Programme will take place at local level and will focus on a pilot landscape in La Vallée de Jacmel. This valley is located in the Sud-Est department. This area is of particular interest for the 4R4R Initiative given the following strategic factors:

  • High literacy rate
  • Strong community collaboration
  • Infrastructure in better condition than average
  • Crucial area for the production of citruses
  • Awareness and endorsement of the local Mayor in supplying land for sustainable activities
  • Valley important for the water flow towards the cities of Bainet and Jacmel (major cities of the region)
  • Investment for an amount of 140.000 Euros already committed for the area (development of processing facilities for essential oils and of a Lab/Nursery for citruses plants)
  • Presence of other Red Cross National Societies with successful initiatives (the Netherlands Red Cross, Spanish Red Cross, Swiss Red Cross); and further project synergies will be identified and built upon.


The area consists of a ravine landscape with little plains. It is a mountainous area bordering the ocean. The main village, La Vallée Ville, is located on the oceanfront and the main services such as primary markets, key access roads, health providers and authorities are based here. The commune has a total population of around 42,000 persons distributed in three communal sections. The first phase will be developed in one of these sections.

In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.


Country 2

No country selected

Country 3

No country selected

Country 4

No country selected

Country 5

No country selected


What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

Image 1: Theory of Change (1200 characters)

Outcome Indicators per “return”:

Natural Return

    • Nr of ha of ecosystems with restoration and or protection/management plans 
    • Percentage of ha land (area covered) by different vegetation types
    • Nr of ha land protected and/or restored by local governments
    • Nr of ha land protected and/or restored by CSO’s
    • Nr of ha land protected and/or restored by communities
    • Nr of land owners/users in Côtes de Fer, Bainet and La Vallée de Jacmel that  have diversified their land-use
    • Nr of Civil Society Organizations using the practical work packages to implement the 4R4R approach
    • Nr of local governments using the practical work package to implement the 4R4R approach
    • Nr of people living  in a constituency in which the 4R4R approach has been implemented


Social Return

    • Nr of people (farmers/agronomists) trained in the 4R4R approach
    • Nr of people have demonstrated improved knowledge, attitudes and practices about the 4R4R approach
    • Nr of key government stakeholders with improved knowledge, attitudes and practices towards the 4R4R approach
    • Nr of civil society stakeholders supporting 4R4R approach in their communities
    • Nr of people participating in 4R4R activities organized by CSO's and local committees
    • Percentage of community trained in entrepreneurial skills
    • Nr of people with diversified skills and diversified sources of income
    • Nr of people directly or indirectly employed


Financial Return

    • Number of market studies conducted
    • Number (and type) of value chains assessed and integrated in the initiative
    • Number of amenities identified that contribute to job creation and climate resilient agricultural practice
    • Number of agri-food businesses set up or supported
    • Funds identified and proposals submitted

What are other key benefits?

The benefits of landscape restoration efforts are widely discussed in the scientific community.

After five years we aim to achieve the following within each of the three "Green Pearls":

  • Local initiatives working jointly towards the same holistic landscape vision;
  • Smallholder farmers using sustainable land management practices and selling their produces on the market for a fair profit;
  • Indigenous species are planted where needed to restore ecological functions of the landscape;
  • Check dams are built and maintained so that flash floods are prevented;
  • Early warning and community-based early warning systems for disaster risk reduction are established with state environmental and hydro-meteorological agencies;
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene are improved across communities;
  • Children go to disaster-proof schools which provide them a safe space to learn programs on climate change and risk management, and a space that can act as shelters for the whole community in case of hurricanes and other catastrophes;
  • The Green Pearl Fund catalyzing feasible community-based initiatives;
  • Blue print developed for the use of collaborative landscape restoration as preventive measure by aid organizations and especially the Red Cross Movement.
  • A revolving fund mechanism for the replication, scaling up and maintenance of the outcomes of Green Pearls Program is supported by financial stakeholders and is operational.

Linking institutional DRR policy-making

Eco-Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR) planning is done in alignment with government entities at the national level through the auxiliary role of the RC and its humanitarian diplomacy efforts. With this project we envision long-term sustainability of results based on local ownership at different levels of government and society.

At the national level, the project strengthens and gives substance to the following ongoing efforts:  

1) to support implementation of the principles of the Sendai framework to which the Haitian government signed up;

2) The Haitian Red Cross (HRC) and the Ministry of the Environment have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to share the goals of building the resilience of vulnerable populations through integrated climate risk management, including the establishment of early warning systems, and disaster risk reduction in combination with ecosystem restoration, especially at the watershed scale;

3) Similarly, a MoU was signed between the HRC and the Ministry of Education to include climate change adaptation and eco-DRR in school curricula (Programme J ‘Adapte);

4) Alignment with the municipal investment and development plans.


At the local RC branch level through:

1) Enabling local leadership development and knowledge transfer to the HRC;

2) Local committee training to enhance embeddedness of eco-DRR in HRC,

3) Engagement of local HRC volunteers in on-the-ground outreach & activities.






What are the proposal’s projected costs?

Budget overview (794 characters)

Fundraising strategy

Current levels of investment in Haiti are limited as a result of a lack of investable opportunities and capacity, among others. Increasing investments is indispensable to boost economic development. Therefore, we also aim to leverage the current (partial) funding with national and international private and institutional investments, causing a financial flywheel effect.

The sources of funding depend upon the project implementation’s stage.

The first 5 years will mainly rely upon grant-fundraising, targeting institutional donors such as EU and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (national & regional), development & cooperation funds, environmental funds, private foundations. In parallel, new forms of funding are being explored, reinventing value-creation and value-exchange relations, which potentially allow for investments from impact development funds and development banks.

According to the IPCC report “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation”, opportunities exist to create synergies in international finance for disaster risk management and adaptation to climate change, but these have not yet been fully realized. Taking into consideration that the core objective of the project is to increase community resilience in the face of climate change; then climate finance takes a centre stage place in the (medium to long-term) fundraising strategy.

Additionally, acquired funding will be catalysed to combine with other funding sources, leading to blended finance structures. Further down the road, and once the business cases start to take off, early-stage grant funding will be mobilized to leverage investment in the form of equity, debt, including carbon finance.


The USD 10,000 grant would be invested in the following selected capacity development activities

  • Training of farmers associations in Landscape Restoration and 4R4R approach (USD 3,000);
  • Workshop training / Training of trainers (project officers) in farm and Jadin Lakou (traditional agroforestry techniques) plan development (USD 3,600)
  • Workshop training for land management good practices (USD 3,400)


The project will see its first concrete results occur at different stages, where for example the training and awareness raising nebefits will be visible in the short term; business & livelihood development in short to medium term and the nature resilience (as it also depends on reforestation and natural growth rates) are probable visible after 5 years.

Short-term (0-5 yr):

Three green pearls (succesfull landscape restoration cases) developed

• Three pearls successfully realised and lessons learned

• Testing commodities, mapping value chains and attracting impact investors

• Earth observation and other monitoring implemented (continues throughout the 20 year period)

• Ten other pearls identified

• Development plan drawn up for the whole of Haiti in cooperation with experts and institutional donors

• Support generated for long-term development plan via lobbying and network with communities, external parties and government (stakeholder engagement)

Revolving fund established, financial backers engaged

• Long-term commitment of stakeholders formalised

• Train-the-trainers for the next 10 Pearls


Short - term (5-10 yr):

conditions for upscaling realised

• Master plan for Haiti accepted and implementation commenced

• Timetable for implementation established via local committees

Revolving fund operational

• Legislation revised in collaboration with government

• Worldwide communication and media strategy launched for the whole of Haïti

medium-term (10-20 yr):

30 green pearls implemented

• Master plan implemented with feedback loops

• All pearls zoned, production made sustainable and exported, income for farmers and communities improved, infrastructure reinforced

Long-term (50+ yr)

  • A more resilient community and nature in Haïti.

About the author(s)

The proposal was written in a cross departmental effort by both organizations, and as that reflects internal organizational processes, it is more accurate to attribute the authorship to the organizations rather than to individual members.

We provide the current positions of the contributers/authors:

Netherlands Red Cross (NLRC)

Liselotte de Koning - Director Princess Margriet Fund (based in The Netherlands (NL)

Rick Aalbers - editor international disaster prevention Princess Margriet Fund (based in NL)

Wendeline van der Feltz - business development Princess Margriet Fund (based in NL)

Klaartje Docters van Leeuwen - Netherlands Red Cross International Resource Mobilization manager (based in NL)

Matilda Nahabedian - Portfolio and Project Officer (based in NL)

Wassim Beaineh - Parnership and Porfolio coordinator (based in NL)

Raimond Duijsens - Resilience Technical Advisor (based in NL)

Sabrina Gehrlein - Planning, Monitoring, and Impact Evaluation officer (Based in NL)

Yvan Trapet - Netherlands Red Cross Country Representative (based in Port au Prince, Haiti)

Janot Mendler de Suarez - Technical Advisor & focal point for the Caribbean region, Haiti-Partners for Resilience Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (based in Boston, USA)

Marie Louise N’Takpe: Programme Coordinator (based in Les Cayes, Haiti)

Sophie Marongiu Joseph: Shelter Delegate - (based in les Cayes, Haiti)

Peter Mast: WASH Delegate – (based in Les Cayes, Haiti)


4 Returns Partners - Commonland

Caroline van Tilborg - managing director 4 Returns Partners

Michiel de Man - managing director 4 Returns Partners

Alessandra Caine - Business development 4 Returns Partners

Dieter van den Broek – Design strategist and facilitator Commonland & Presencing Institute fellow


Related Proposals

Not sure


•IFRC Vulnerability capacity assessment tool

•IFRC Framework for Community Resilience

•IFRC Community Engagement & Accountability Tool

•“How law and regulation supports disaster risk reduction” (Haitian Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross, IFRC) 

•“Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”

•“Understanding the need for climate adaptation of small and medium enterprises in Kenya and Uganda” (Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre)

•Presencing Institute – Theory U

•Theory U: leading from the future as it emerges (Society for Organizational Learning, 2007)

•“Multifonctionnalité des jardins créoles haïtiens “ (CIRAD – La Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement)

“4 Returns from Landscape restoration: a systemic and practical approach to restore degraded landscapes” (Commonland, 2017)


“IFRC Policy Brief – Localization”

“Red Cross Red Crescent Reference Centers”

The Red Cross Red Crescent reference centres are delegated functions of the IFRC and hosted in various Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies. Their primary function as ‘centres of excellence’ are to develop strategically important knowledge and best practice that will inform the future operations of the IFRC and National Societies in their key areas of interest and influence.