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Economics of Land Degradation Initiative

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Title: Economics of Land Degradation Initiative  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Sustainable agriculture, Desertification, Food security, Ecological economics, Sustainable land management
Collection: Climate Change, Desertification, Ecological Economics, Environmental Economics, Food Security, Sustainability, Sustainable Agriculture
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Economics of Land Degradation Initiative

The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative is a global initiative which aims to increase awareness of the economic consequences of land degradation and promote sustainable land management. The ELD Initiative provides a platform for discussion between stakeholders from the policy, science, and private sectors, and is focused on developing globally relevant data and methods on the economic benefits of land and land based ecosystems. The Initiative highlights the potential benefits derived from adopting sustainable land management practices and seeks to establish a global economic analyses of land management. The ELD Initiative was co-founded by the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the European Commission (EC) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The ELD Secretariat is based in Bonn, Germany, and hosted by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).


  • Background 1
  • Formation and partner organisations 2
  • Goals 3
  • Structure 4
  • Outputs 5
  • Publications 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Land degradation and desertification threaten people’s livelihood on a global scale. Every year, 20 million hectares of fertile land become degraded and within the last 40 years, around one third of the total agricultural land on earth has become unproductive through degradation processes.[1] Less developed countries are more vulnerable to desertification and land degradation, as they lack the infrastructure and capital to deal with this threat and implement long-term sustainable land management.[2] Soil on degraded land is less resilient and crops grown on degraded soil produce lower yields. Land degradation also negatively influences global food security: in the next 25 years, global food production might drop by up to 12%. This will lead to an increase in average food prices of up to 30%.[3] Estimates show that the annual costs of land degradation are up to €3.4 trillion.[4] Paired with the growing world population and an increasing demand for alternative land management products such as biofuels land degradation causes poverty, food insecurity, reduced availability of clean water, and increased vulnerability towards climate change and extreme weather conditions.[5]

Against this background, the ELD Initiative was founded in order to deepen existing scientific expertise in the context of soil and land management, and present the issue in an accessible and usable way to decision makers using economic tools. Outputs of the ELD Initiative focus on the economic (and other) benefits of action through sustainable land management.

Formation and partner organisations

In 2010, a scientific foundation was created to promote the issues of sustainable land management and food security and increase public awareness for the importance of productive soils. In October 2011, a Memorandum of understanding was signed between the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, the European Commission, and the permanent Secretariat to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Additionally, the Korea Forest Service supports the ELD Initiative as a political partner.

Governance Structure of the ELD Initiative

The ELD Initiative established a broad scientific network including the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), the Stockholm Environment Institute, UNDP, UNEP, the Australian National University, University of Leeds, University of Wyoming and IUCN amongst others.[6] The ELD Initiative further focuses on collaborating with the Private sector as one of the main drivers for land degradation processes,[7] to help businesses identify investment opportunities and incentives linked to the preservation and sustainable management of soils.


The primary goal of the ELD Initiative is to prepare and present an economic cost benefit analysis on the practice of sustainable land management, to contribute to the reduction of land degradation globally. The economic analysis will enable decision-makers in politics and business to take measures for more sustainable rural development and improve global food, water, and energy security for both long term economic returns and the enhancement of sustainable land management.

Scientifically, the ELD Initiative systematically reviews available studies of the economics of land degradation and facilitates the establishment of common scientific and methodological standards. This approach provides data- and application-oriented tools needed as a basis for policy-making, investment decisions, and public awareness-raising.


Guided by Steering Group members and coordinated by the ELD Secretariat, the ELD Initiative produces reports, case studies, and other outputs. These are compiled by its policy, private sector, and scientific partners. Additionally, an Advisory Group of senior experts supports the Initiative and increases its visibility. The ELD Secretariat is responsible for the coordination of processes within the Initiative, and serves as first contact point for all existing and potential partners.


As of mid-2014, the ELD Initiative has published a “Scientific Interim Report’’ which details the general approach and methods considered by the Initiative and a “Business Brief’’ which outlines a methodology for risk assessment. In 2015, the ELD Initiative will publish three additional reports for the private sector, policy makers, and the scientific community as well as a synthesis report. The ELD Initiative further offers Capacity building activities for decision-makers. In 2014 for example a first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the Economics of Land Degradation was offered in cooperation with UNU-INWEH. A second Massive Open Online Course |Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) titled 'Options and pathways for action: Stakeholder Engagement' is taking place May 5 - June 27, 2015.


  • Scientific Interim Report
  • ELD Business Brief
  • ELD Assessment
  • ELD Practitioner's Guide
  • ELD Case Study of Ethiopia
  • ELD Case Study of Botswana's Kalahari

See also


  1. ^ BMZ on the German Engagement within the UNCCD
  2. ^ ELD Scientific Interim Report
  3. ^ Global Facts and Figures on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought by UNCCD
  4. ^ TEEB Interim Report in ELD Business Brief
  5. ^ ELD Scientific Interim Report
  6. ^ ELD partners
  7. ^ European Environmental Agency (2003) Europe’s environment: the third assessment

External links

  • ELD official website
  • ELD on Twitter and YouTube
  • Key Topics of the UNCCD
  • United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health
  • ELD Masssive Open Online Courses
  • 2015 ELD Massive Open Online Course
  • Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung
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