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Working Papers



Working Papers


Working Paper Series

The GLO Working Papers Series is a supplementary set of publications that cover a wide variety of strategic issues related to land management and planning. The series aims to provide an expanded format as well as an additional vehicle for those authors invited to contribute to the GLO main report. 

A number of working papers were commissioned to provide insights and analysis on the major themes addressed in this first edition of the GLO. The series is expected to be an ongoing activity that will contribute to successive Outlooks.



Alfred M. Duda

This paper represents a contribution to the Global Land Outlook in terms of discussing the complex dimensions of land and water resources management. Per the Terms of Reference for its production, the paper explains complex interactions between land and water resources management. Hot spots of land degradation as well as hot spots of water scarcity are presented in a series of global maps that have been previously published. Good practices for combatting land degradation, deforestation, and desertification as well as good practices for saving water in agriculture – particularly irrigation– are covered. 


Uwe R. Fritsche et al.

This paper identifies and compares the land impact of all terrestrial energy forms. It also focuses on the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the use and supply of energy, as well as the maintenance and enhancement of terrestrial carbon sinks that are essential to mitigating climate change, as set forth in SDG 13 and the Paris Agreement of 12 December 2015. Meeting these goals will require a rapid scale up of low-carbon, sustainable energy sources and their efficient distribution. Many of these activities have significant implications for land use, management and planning. 



 Atieno Mboya Samandari

This paper will discuss emerging trends in gender dimensions of land degradation, making an argument for the importance of taking gender roles into account when making policies and laws to promote land degradation neutrality.  Women comprise 43% of the world’s agricultural labor force, rising to 70% in some countries.4 In Africa, for instance, 80% of agricultural production comes from small-holder farmers, who are mostly rural women. Despite their majority in the small-holder agricultural sector, women typically don’t have secure control over their farmland or over its productive resources, especially commercially marketable produce. This lack of control is linked to land ownership rights in rural areas, which habitually favor men;  women’s access to the land, meanwhile, is mediated by their relationship to the male owner. Such arrangements are rooted in the traditional patriarchal norms of granting ownership over society’s productive resources.


INTEGRATED LANDSCAPE MANAGEMENT: An approach to achieve equitable and participatory sustainable development

Melissa Thaxton, Seth Shames, and Sara J. Scherr

Integrated landscape management (ILM) has emerged as an innovative approach to land management that reduces land use conflicts, empowers communities, and achieves development objectives at the landscape scale. ILM is built on the principles of participation, negotiation, and cooperation; as such, it requires long-term collaboration among diverse stakeholders. This paper presents ILM as a viable means of achieving sustainable and equitable development. 



LAND TENURE AND RIGHTS for Improved Land Management and Sustainable Development

Emmanuel Kasimbazi

This working paper explores how land tenure systems in different ecosystems and bio-cultural regions around the world are linked to land degradation or sustainable land management. It is against this backdrop that five major issues surrounding land tenure, and rights for improved land management and sustainable development, are addressed; these are: Problems associated with land ownership (titling, tenure and customary rights); The current trend of policy and regulatory regimes within land law; The status and challenges of land administration and institutions; Marginalization of some social groups, such as women, local communities and indigenous people; Violation of land rights, for instance, via land grabbing; Land distribution and land reform processes; and Types of land conflicts and disputes, and corresponding resolution mechanisms.


Graciela Metternicht

This working paper analyzes the role of land use and spatial planning tools, processes and approaches to improve socio-economic opportunities through sustainable management of land resources (i.e., soil, water, and biodiversity). Section 1 explores the nexus between land use planning and changes in the land system, as well as interdependent factors which influence land use planning.  Section 2 briefly describes the evolution of different land use types over time, and the basic requirements of land use planning.  Principles of best practice in land use planning for sustainable land use and management are identified, and case studies of land use policy, built upon these principles, are presented in Section 3. The final section presents evidence of contributions of land use and spatial planning to sustainable land use and management, as well as to the improvement of economic opportunities and the strengthening of land governance.



Giancarlo Raschio

The Agrifood business (production, processing, transportation, and commercialization to final consumers) has changed dramatically in the last fifty years. Rather than being carried out via linear supply chains, agrifood business is now conducted in complex networks spanning the globe. It can, in other words, be said that modern agrifood business is conducted under the form of Global Value Chains (GVC). The main characteristic of a GVC is a fragmented production of goods and products across borders. An agrifood GVC can be defined as either buyer-driven or producer-driven. The former is led by supermarkets, whereas the latter, by manufacturers. In between, there are key intermediaries such as large traders. These lead companies wield most of the power within the agrifood GVC. 


MIGRATION AND LAND DEGRADATION: Recent experience and future trends

Robert McLeman

This report provides a detailed analysis of how migration is connected to land ownership, land use change, and land degradation. It begins with an overview of general migration theories, and then quickly focuses on how environmental factors influence migration. After introducing a well-established conceptual model to guide further analysis, the report takes the reader through a large number of specific examples of migration associated with land degradation and droughts, from a range of countries and regions. Emphasis is placed upon the influences of socio-economic and political processes, as well as the complexity of interactions, and the heterogeneity of the potential migration outcomes. 



Grammenos Mastrojeni

The state of the environment, taken as a complex whole, fundamentally impacts the stability of human societies; it can enable or hinder peace and security through composite and interconnected dynamics. Most often, land acts as the catalyzing element. The security-environment relationship exists within the bounds of both planetary geographical interconnectedness, and global systemic interconnectedness. It can be understood by investigating the cyclical repercussions - the ripples of cause and effect - that occur between and among environment, peace and stability, development, and human rights. 



Nigel Dudley and Kathy MacKinnon

Protected areas (PA) are critical tools in maintaining biodiversity and, if well managed, are proven to be effective for both conservation and maintaining the ecosystem services on which human livelihoods and welfare depend. The modern protected area system was developed largely during the latter part of the twentieth and in the twenty-first century, and can be maintained under a range of management and governance types.


RURAL-URBAN LINKAGES in the context of Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection

Craig Hatcher

This working paper examines the role of rural-urban linkages in the context of sustainable development and environmental protection, analyzing how harnessing linkages between urban and rural areas can potentially reduce spatial disparities. Emphasis is placed on examining the flows of people, goods, money and information between rural and urban areas, as well as upon the linkages that form between different economic sectors. 


Scaling up sustainable land management and restoration of degraded land

Richard Thomas et al.

To achieve the ambitious goals of alleviating poverty, securing food and water supplies, and protecting the natural resource base, we need to recognize the inter-connectedness of the factors driving land degradation, so that solutions can be taken to scale, transforming management practices for millions of land users. An analysis of the critical barriers and incentives to achieve scaling up suggests that the most appropriate options should be selected through the involvement of stakeholders at all levels, from local to national and international.


“SO THE LAND IS ACTUALLY LIKE A BIG BOOK, YOU KNOW?” Geomythology, and the value of a bridge between conventional and indigenous science

Michael Welland

The words of Alison Anderson, Papunya elder and recently retired Australian politician, resonate. They resonate with all indigenous peoples whose relationship with their land is often more profoundly intimate than that of Western or eurocentric societies, and they resonate with a geologist. For Aboriginal people and geologists, the land tells stories – in different ways, of course, but the land is itself is viewed as a book whose narratives must be not only deciphered, but recounted. Anderson’s view echoes that of John Wesley Powell, the extraordinary one-armed geologist, explorer, and cultural anthropologist, as he variously hurtled, drifted or clambered down the Grand Canyon in his epic expedition of 1869. In his diary and report he recorded that “All about me are interesting geologic records. The book is open and I can read as I run”.



Nicola Favretto et. al

This paper reviews existing information on the economic tools and frameworks used in the valuation of land and its ecosystems, and presents the range of economic policy mechanisms available to incentivize SLM. Several interlinkages are explored, between: economic valuation and instruments; policy implementation; implications for ecosystem services preservation; and SDGs achievement through changes in land use and management. The opportunities and challenges regarding improved mainstreaming of economic arguments into land policy are discussed.


THE LAND IN DRYLANDS: Thriving in uncertainty through diversity

Jonathan Davies

Although the name “drylands” can diminish people’s appreciation of them, under different guises this land is often well-known and valued. Few doubt the importance to biodiversity of the world’s savannahs for example, or the value of fine fibers such as cashmere and alpaca wool, which are produced on dry grasslands. In countries of Central Asia, southern Europe and in the United States the drylands are acknowledged for their important cultural heritage. Yet in some countries drylands are equated with low productivity and they are starved of investment.



Neville D. Crossman

The annual costs of land degradation are thought to be in the order of 10-17% of global gross domestic product. The very high costs of land degradation makes large-scale ecological restoration a global imperative. This paper documents the areas wherein, and manners whereby, large-scale ecological restoration has the potential to be an integral component of the sustainable management of natural capital within production systems. The paper reviews the main land management approaches that could drive large-scale uptake of ecological restoration in agricultural landscapes;  in doing so, it also describes where and how some of the main barriers to widespread uptake can be found, and overcome. 


THREATS TO SOILS: GLOBAL TRENDS AND PERSPECTIVES. A Contribution from the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils, Global Soil Partnership. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Gary Pierzynski and Brajendra (Editors)

Soils play a critical role in delivering ecosystem services. Healthy soils are a basic prerequisite to meeting varied needs for food, biomass (energy), fiber, fodder, and other products, and to ensuring the provision of essential ecosystem services in all regions of the world. However, soil resources are facing unprecedented pressures today, many of which are human-induced. Over the past three decades, there have been marked developments in our broader understanding of humankind’s impacts on the earth, and of the frameworks with which to assess these impacts. Specific soil processes are central to earth-system processes that provide the safe operating space for humanity – the concept of 'planetary boundaries' that cannot be exceeded without causing potentially disastrous consequences for humanity). 

Contributing Reports

Exploring the impact of changes in land use and land condition on food, water, climate change mitigation and biodiversity:
Scenarios for the UNCCD Global Land Outlook.

PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency

Scientific Conceptual Framework for Land Degradation Neutrality
UNCCD Science-Policy Interface

3rd edition of the World Atlas of Desertification
Joint Research Centre of the European Commission

Journal Articles

Agriculture and biodiversity: a review
Nigel Dudley & Sasha Alexander

Will small farmers survive the twenty-first century – and should they?
Nigel Dudley & Sasha Alexander