Mainstreaming sustainable land management at international level

Project description

Title: Sector project on soil protection, combating desertification, sustainable land management
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Worldwide
Overall term: 2017 to 2020


Land degradation is threatening the natural resource base of poor rural populations like never before. If agriculture continues to use current production methods, a third of the cultivated area worldwide will have lost half of its soil productivity by 2080. The current losses of ecosystem services due to land degradation are estimated to be between 6.3 and 10.6 trillion US dollars per year.

The new SDG target 15.3 on Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) also came into force with the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This lends increased political relevance to combating land degradation. A global increase in awareness of the role of sustainable land management in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change is strengthening this trend. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has been tasked with the global implementation of the SDG.


German development cooperation helps to mainstream sustainable land management in national and international political processes.


The strategic approach of the Soil Protection, Combating Desertification, Sustainable Land Management sector project is to make the reduction of land degradation more economically and politically relevant and to promote sustainable land management at national and international level. To do this, the project develops a number of innovative approaches of political and practical implementation and of interlinking with related topics, which it then promotes and reviews.

The project is active on a supraregional scale in three interconnected fields of action:

1. Policy advice and expert dialogue at international level
The project advises the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on fulfilling Germany’s mandate obligations as a signatory to and the home of the UNCCD. It is actively involved in the preparation of Conferences of the Parties as well as in intergovernmental working groups at international and European level.
To ensure that BMZ has a voice, the project prepares statements and status reports as well as contributions made by BMZ.

2. Mainstreaming sustainable land management at national level
The project advises partner countries and bilateral projects on applying and improving innovative approaches to sustainable land management. In this way, direct connections are created between the priorities of the international agenda and specific applications in the form of a multi-level approach. At the same time, the practical lessons learned in this way are incorporated into international policy advice and put to good use.

  • The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative strengthens global awareness of the economic significance of sustainable land management. The ELD Initiative is currently focusing on the use of ELD methods and findings in partner countries. Together with the European Union (EU), local capacity for the economic assessment of land degradation and sustainable land management is being developed in eight African countries.
  • Based on the UNCCD’s LDN Target Setting Programme, pilot measures are being implemented in cooperation with thematically related projects in the partner countries. The objective here is to find solutions to strategic challenges in the political and planning-related implementation of the LDN targets.

3. Innovation and knowledge of sustainable land management for national and international experts and decision-makers.
The project processes the findings from pilot measures and political dialogues and makes them available to different user groups. Capacity development is pursued systematically both within the ELD Initiative and for related areas of work.