TerraViva for Sustainable Coffee Landscapes

Living Labs

TerraViva for Sustainable Coffee Landscapes

This Living Lab uses a participatory, asset-based methodology to engage with community representatives and identify assets that a coffee-producing community in a post-conflict region could leverage to develop nature-based solutions that enhance ecosystem services and foster sustainable livelihoods.

Project launch: 2021
Location: Gaitania, Planadas Municipality, Tolima Department, Colombia
Objectives: Creating a long-term development vision built from the perspective of local stakeholders, leading to collective solutions to meet production and environmental goals; A landscape governance model providing a holistic view of landscape sustainability, supported by credible data for decision making.
Key activities: Comprehensive situational analysis on social, economic, and environmental opportunities / construction of a Common Territorial Agenda with a multi-stakeholder platform
Main species planted: Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica), Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), Granadilla (Passiflora ligularis)
Partners: Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), Global Centre on Biodiversity for Climate (GCBC) -Defra/UK, Fundación Natura Colombia, Alliance Bioversity International-CIAT, Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, Circular Bioeconomy Alliance


Gaitania, a coffee-growing community located 40 km southwest of the remote Planadas, Tolima, is well recognized by the specialty coffee industry for producing citric and complex coffee. Farming communities in this area are intertwined with their landscape through their livelihoods, history, and social identity.

This close relationship can be both an advantage and a hindrance for local producers to recognize the assets they have that can be leveraged to build an even stronger community and a more resilient and productive landscape.


  • Action on the ground
    The research conducted in this Living Lab aimed to understand the landscape and the interactions among its stakeholders, building a Common Territorial Agenda that captures their long-term vision of sustainability for the territory.
  • Analysing the situation
    A series of workshops based on the Community Capitals Framework sought to understand the community’s assets and how they can be leveraged to support ecosystem services and livelihoods improvements. A coffee value chain mapping exercise and a bio-based business market analysis were conducted, as well as a GIS mapping and climatic analysis to understand current and historic land uses in Gaitania and a gender analysis.
  • Creating a Common Territorial Agenda
    Based on the situational analysis, members of the four villages provided their insights and proposed solutions in small-group, thematic dialogue exercises, as well as a participatory plenary dialogue. Project partners translated all 150 insights and solutions provided by the community into 31 actionable strategies, which were then presented in a Multistakeholder Forum with key representatives from the four villages. They then validated and prioritized the strategies, transforming them into a Common Territorial Agenda.
  • A community blueprint
    The Common Territorial Agenda incorporates initiatives such as:
    * training for project formulation and management
    * clean and efficient production and processing of coffee and byproducts
    * local bio factories, greenhouses, innovation incubators and reforestation initiatives
    * payment for ecosystem services and soil conservation
    * psychosocial support to prevent family violence
    * leadership and citizen peace schools
    * improving local roads to enhance market access

    This provides a blueprint agreed upon by the community to begin seeking alliances and funding, and organizing itself, to implement the initiatives in a logical way that ensures continuous growth and a path towards a sustainable landscape.

Expected impacts

The project directly contributes to the achievement of 15 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a roadmap to a better and more sustainable future.