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Adopting SLM at the national level

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Whilst sustainable land management (SLM) is widely promoted through many land-use projects around the world, however, land degradation is still increasing and remains a major global threat. This is partly due to the fact that only a small group of innovative land-users and practitioners adopt SLM technologies and practices. 

UNCCD Science-Policy Interface’s 2017 report on sustainable land management identified some of the barriers to SLM adoption. The report states that a “lack of access to appropriate technologies, practices, or equipment is a major barrier in many countries. This can be due to a lack of access to knowledge and information on SLM options and their proper implementation, or because of insufficient resources in land, labour, inputs, biomass, energy, water or plants.” The report cites the regulatory environment, such as national policies or governance structures, as factors that also affect SLM adoption. 

According to UNCCD’s Science-Policy brief on SLM for Climate and People, in order to ensure a large-scale SLM adoption, countries need to highlight tangible benefits for land users and remove barriers to SLM adoption.  

The brief argues that “land users and managers are more likely to adopt SLM technologies and practices if they are convinced that it maintains or enhances production and food security and if there are economic benefits or other incentives that enhance their well-being.” According to the brief, policy makers play a crucial role by creating the necessary enabling environment to promote large-scale adoption of SLM.  

The brief identified the following policy instruments that can be used to create incentives for land users to adopt SLM. These include: 

  • mainstreaming SLM best practices into national integrated land-use planning strategies 
  • supporting the implementation of SLM as one of the means to achieve land degradation neutrality 
  • developing and supporting economic incentives for SLM implementation, through sustainable business models, subsidies, and/or payments for ecosystem services schemes 
  • improving land tenure security to incentivize land users to invest in SLM 
  • supporting transdisciplinary research on multi-objective assessments of SLM, the barriers and enabling conditions for SLM implementation, and participatory research methods 

The brief underscores the importance of a participatory approach to decision-making on selecting effective SLM solutions. It makes that case for knowledge sharing and discussions among land users, policymakers, stakeholders to take place at different decision-making levels and during the entire SLM implementation cycle. 


Case study: national ownership and mainstreaming SLM in Morocco 

The UNCCD’s Global Land Outlook's (GLO) working paper on Scaling up SLM and restoration of degraded land  illustrates how SLM was scaled up thanks to sound national policies in Morocco.  

SLM was integrated into Morocco’s national community-development planning process, providing resources for community engagement at local levels, while also promoting SLM nationally. 

The Programme Oasis Sud (POS) was launched in 2006 to address desertification and land degradation in 180 oases in southern Morocco. The POS developed into a major integrated programme, focusing on local development planning, value chain development, sustainable land management and women’s empowerment. 

By using the Community Development Plan – which was the main tool for participatory planning and implementation of local development interventions – the POS mobilized a wide variety of development stakeholders from local to national levels, and secured funding from national budgets.

The POS resulted in multiple positive outcomes. The district development plans for 46 communities which were financed had a major focus on SLM. The combined budget of the POS reached USD 77 million in 2015, with most coming from national sources. Around 5,500 jobs were created, and SLM practices were promoted across 195,000 hectares of agricultural land. Other impacts reported by the programme include improved management and restoration of over 10,000 hectares of ancestral cacti plantations, soil erosion control, and sand dune fixation in 20 oases.