Sustainable land management and desertification control

© GIZ/Michael Martin

Land degradation, desertification and drought: sustainable land management as a solution

Land degradation, desertification and drought are increasing continuously. Together with its partners, GIZ is taking countermeasures to stop this.

More than a third of the world’s land area is already significantly degraded. The consequences are far-reaching – expansion of deserts, loss of biodiversity, and the ability of soils to store and regulate carbon, nutrients and water. Land degradation has high social costs and threatens the livelihoods of 3.2 billion people as well as future generations.

It is estimated that ten million hectares of agricultural land are degraded every year. Due to the loss of fertile agricultural land, crop yields and farmers’ incomes are falling, while at the same time more than 800 million people worldwide are already suffering from hunger. Land degradation has many different causes, including unsustainable agricultural practices and inappropriate land use. It is exacerbated by climate change, which exerts pressure on natural ecosystems due to droughts or heavy rainfall. Especially in arid regions, desertification leads to a vicious circle of land scarcity, hunger, migration and resource conflicts.

To prevent the situation from deteriorating further, the international community has undertaken to halt the loss of productive land by 2030 (SDG 15.3 – Land degradation neutrality). This is also the core objective of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). In practice, this means avoiding, reducing and compensating for degradation. Sustainable land management offers considerable potential for this and encompasses a wide range of approaches. However, these approaches are only successful if they involve land users and are adapted to local conditions. There is also a need to strengthen enabling frameworks, such as secure land rights and integrated land use planning.

GIZ supports its partners in (political) processes to promote sustainable land management, and in restoring degraded land and adapting land use to climate change. It works closely with land users and decision-makers and promotes cross-border and cross-sectoral cooperation. It also provides its partners with expertise for developing and embedding strategies in national policies, and with budgets for other necessary measures. Other fields of action include:

  • Advising partners on the implementation of diverse approaches for sustainable, climate-resilient land use and food security
  • Support for the implementation and further development of the international framework for sustainable land use (especially the UNCCD)
  • Expert policy advice on regional and international initiatives and processes on sustainable land management and responsibility for secretariats, for example at the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative
  • Supporting partners in developing financing strategies, promoting reliable and user-oriented data, and cooperating with international organisations, bilateral donors and development banks
  • Supporting partners in the design of training and awareness-raising opportunities

Additional information