Sustainable development has little to do with technical issues and is all about people and institutions. Despite this truism and on going efforts to address the related issues, low adoption of sustainable land management and low levels of knowledge and competence continue unabated. Why the continuing gap between knowing and doing?
Three key issues relate to addressing the gap between knowing and doing. One is related to the institutional conditions under which learning takes place. Mutual support generating understanding amongst communities for changes that may be taken or new ideas that may be introduced is essential. Strong, formal community institutions are an important part of the learning process with respect to issues such as DLDD and sustainable land management that have clear and direct impacts on poor people’s livelihoods.
A second issue is ongoing support, such as one-to-one mentoring, that contributes to an atmosphere of confidence in making changes, large and small. This has been found to be best done on-farm, where the farmer is convinced the mentor understands the situation and the mentor can assist the farmer to think through the options identified in a specific situation. Group training followed by no continuing support for those expected to adopt new and different approaches often leaves the individual alone on the farm – where it is more comfortable to continue doing what has always been done.
Investing in youth is the key to permanent change. Although they may not be managing a farm, nor even have the opportunity to do so in the future, understanding by the general populace helps land managers to enhance their SLM practices and combat DLDD. Many occupations relate to farming that are not directly on-farm. From those who sell inputs to farming to those who buy the products and a variety of professions in between, an understanding of what constitutes SLM is essential.
[eight speakers from seven institutions and discussion]