Land for Life award

deadline extended

Arabic | Chinese | French | Russian | Spanish 

Nominations are now closed.

The Land for Life Award is designed to reward impactful holistic approaches and practices that address the ecological and the social aspects of sustainable land management as a means of achieving land degradation neutrality.

The Award is given to most diverse changemakers engaged in land restoration and conservation through exemplary and innovative initiatives. Beyond creating a positive impact on land, past winners have been recognized for their positive influence on individual lives, communities and society at large.

2021 is all about healthy land, healthy lives 

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has revealed and exacerbated social inequalities together with health and economic threats. It has also confirmed that sustainable development is impossible without proper governance of nature’s resources as a foundation for resilient socio-economic progress. 

 “Healthy Land, Healthy Lives” emphasizes the vital connection between all living creatures and nature. Healthy ecosystems provide food, water and medicine. They absorb carbon, mitigate climate change and drought, prevent desertification, floods and landslides. With humans dependent on nature, sustainable land management can directly contribute to achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): end poverty (SDG1), zero hunger (SDG2), good health and well-being (SDG3), clean water and sanitation (SDG6), responsible consumption (SDG12), climate action (SDG13), as well as life on land (SDG15) to improve food security, protect healthy environment and secure livelihoods.  The UNCCD vision is to create a new social contract for nature to protect healthy land and the people.   

This year’s theme invites recommended candidates to reflect on land as part of the solution, during and after the COVID-19 crisis for a green and sustainable recovery. Potential candidates are called to share their stories and actions of combating land degradation and desertification or mitigating the effects of. Recommended candidates will be asked to highlight how their social, economic and ecological spheres of life affect each other. They will highlight how their actions improve our relationship with nature and promote well-being of their communities.

Nominated projects can be at various implementation stage and form, including start-ups, youth-led businesses or well-established organizations, as long as they can clearly include social activities that lead to the sustainable restoration and preservation of ecosystems before, during and after the pandemic.

Selection criteria

Candidates should demonstrate results in any of the following areas: 

  • Enhancement or regeneration of productive land, soil health and fertility 

  • Reduction or mitigation of land degradation and the negative impact of drought in the drylands, for example, via reforestation 

In combination with the above-mentioned areas, candidates need to additionally demonstrate results in any of the following fields:

  • Enhancement or securement of socio-economic resilience of communities or society at large 

  • Promotion of youth and women empowerment, combating social inequalities

  • Promotion of social, economic and/or technological inclusion

This is to be accomplished via one or more of the following:

  • Outstanding sustainable land management practices, creative policy measures and policy incentives 

  • International cooperation 

  • Community mobilization and/or outstanding business practices which contribute to:

    • Regeneration and preservation of soil health, fertility and human livelihoods 

    • Reducing energy consumption, boosting nature positive (food) production and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in land and soil related processes

  • Advocacy, communication or information initiatives which:

    • Focus on people in desertification-affected and rural areas  

    • Raise awareness on the global benefits of sustainable land management, reforestation, protecting biodiversity, as well as maintaining and restoring land health

    • Stress the vital connectivity between humanity and land, promote better understanding that with the right approach, degraded land areas can offer new opportunities and potential solutions to some of today’s most pressing global problems, including combating social inequalities and enhancing socio-economic resilience 

  • Educational activities which increase understanding and knowledge of desertification, land degradation and drought, and heighten knowledge of effective sustainable land management practices 

  • Scientific findings or innovations which contribute to improving soil health and land management while generating biological, environmental, social and economic benefits. 


The winners will be announced in June 2021. 

The Award does not carry a monetary prize. Based on their needs, however, the award winners receive a tailored support package from the UNCCD secretariat which includes networking with relevant organizations, promoting the winning initiatives nationally and internationally, including showcases at national and international events. At the same time, the winners are requested to act as a “spokesperson” for Land Degradation Neutrality in the policy-making arena. The winners will be trained to become spokespersons at “Kubuqi Desert International Institute” when they are invited to the Kubuqi International Desert Forum for the Award ceremony (to be confirmed). 

The winners‘ initiatives will be promoted on social media and at UNCCD COP15.

Submission process

The nomination process includes the following steps:

  1. ONLINE FORM​​​​​​: nominators fill out the form with the requested background information of the recommended candidate (you can preview the questions HERE). 

  2. Social media
    • Nominators post a picture/video, tagging the candidate, explaining in a few words why they should receive the next Land for Life Award.
    • The use of official hashtag of the campaign is mandatory: #Land4Life

Candidates can nominate themselves if they are supported by at least two reputable entities acting as their references. The supporting entities should not be directly involved in the candidate’s projects or related to the candidates, but be familiar with their activities, including:


  • The participation is free
  • The nomination deadline has been extended until 14 February 2021, 23:59 CET Bonn 
  • There is no cash prize, but a tailored UNCCD secretariat support package will be offered (see Prize section)
  • Candidates cannot apply by themselves; they need to be nominated by a third legitimate party
  • The nominations must be submitted in one of the six official UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish).
  • For a successful nomination, a third party needs to 
  • Fill out the online form with the requested background information of the recommended candidat
  • Post a picture/video, tagging the candidate, explaining in a few words why they should receive the next Land for Life Award AND use the official hashtag #Land4Life
  • A nominator can nominate only one candidate
  • The participants grant the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), its partners and other UN agencies as well as other persons or entities authorized by the UNCCD, the right to publish the photos, videos and texts, and to promote the projects and initiatives shared through this context, mentioning the name of the participant
  •  The UNCCD reserves the right to modify the videos and to include the branding elements such as, but not limited to, the UNCCD Logo
  • Competition submissions cannot include any endorsements of products or services, or any obscene, violent, racist, religious intolerance or defamatory content. Entries that do not comply with these specifications will be automatically disqualified and reported
  • Submissions cannot be accepted if the image in the entry features an identifiable individual who has not given their consent to appear or if the image, advertising or trademarks which would otherwise require the UNCCD to obtain permission to use
  • Current and former staff, consultants, and interns of the United Nations, as well as first degree relatives of the aforementioned individuals can nominate candidates, however are not eligible to be nominated themselves.

Invitation to nominate