Chapter 1.4 – Enabling Governance for Sustainable Land Management

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By Jonathan Davies, Ph.D., Coordinator, Global Drylands Initiative, IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


Land degradation is a global challenge that affects everybody through food insecurity and higher food prices, through climate change and environmental hazards, and through the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Although there is a link between land degradation and conflict, we should be careful not to blame the victims. Often, land degradation and conflict are the result of weak governance. As a result, strengthening natural resource governance can deliver multiple positive outcomes, including improvements in the food economy, environmental benefits, and security and peace. Published accounts of strengthening local-level governance in a wide array of contexts show common elements that can be adapted to different political and cultural contexts. These initiatives are often relatively low cost, but demand high investment in skill and time. This chapter illustrates the importance of solutions that are both politically and socially acceptable. It shows that significant changes are needed in the way we use one of our most precious and finite resources: land.


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About  the Author:

Dr Jonathan Davies is the Coordinator of the Global Drylands Programme at IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature. He holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and has over 20 years’ work experience in the fields of livestock development, pastoralism and Sustainable Land Management. He has expertise in building local governance, strengthening institutional arrangements for ecosystem management, linking science and policy, integrating local knowledge and science for sustainable rangelands management, and strengthening markets that support the multifunctionality of rangeland ecosystems. Jonathan is the IUCN Focal Point to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and represents IUCN on the UNCCD Science Policy Interface.

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About  the Global Drylands Initiative of IUCN

The Global Drylands Initiative (GDI) supports the sustainable management of dryland ecosystems and the conservation of dryland biodiversity. The GDI strengthens knowledge and capacity to adapt policies and investments to the unique conditions of the drylands. The GDI generates evidence of dryland condition and trends through adapted assessment approaches that operationalize current understanding on non-equilibrium dryland ecology. The Initiative strengthens natural resource governance in drylands through strengthening of resource rights, establishment of institutional mechanisms for ecosystem management, and development of enabling conditions for policy implementation and revision. The GDI supports countries to meet their obligations to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification through revision of Action Programmes and supporting progress towards Land Degradation Neutrality. The GDI places particular emphasis on dry rangelands which occupy roughly three quarters of all drylands, where knowledge and investment gaps are greatest, and where dryland biodiversity is generally most intact.

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