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Capacity Building to Combat Land Degradation Project

sector: Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development | country: China, People’s Republic of

Acceptance and application of integrated ecosystem management (IEM). The IEM approach is highly relevant to combating land degradation in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and is a significant departure from traditional practices and therefore, requires time to become fully accepted. Good progress to date suggests that the full 10-year period, as originally designed, will be required. Moreover, with numerous central and provincial agencies involved in programs to combat land degradation and alleviate poverty, mainstreaming of the IEM concept and approach into central and provincial policies and plans requires sustained reinforcement to prevent stakeholders from reverting to agency-based approaches for combating land degradation.

Integrated approach to achieving long-term success. International experience demonstrates that an integrated approach is appropriate to achieving long-term success in combating land degradation that is mostly caused by interacting socioeconomic factors (e.g., overexploitation of natural resources, poverty, and population pressure). Participatory and science-based IEM approaches are essential for successfully combating ecosystem degradation, including in dryland areas. IEM concepts and principles have been demonstrated to be effective in influencing the ways in which people use natural resources and how they benefit from viable ecosystems. IEM has also been effective in addressing the poverty-resource degradation cycle at the grassroots level, as it generates solutions from the stakeholders that are directly and most affected by land degradation.

Institutional capacity building for establishing an enabling environment. For IEM to be effective and successful, cooperating and collaborating institutions and sectors must be supported by IEM knowledge and skills for policy making, planning, legislation, and joint management of the environment and natural resources. Joint and effective management of environmental and natural resources requires improving the capacities of cooperating and collaborating with government institutions for combining top-down and bottom-up approaches. The legitimacy of the joint management system within the provincial and autonomous regional government structure may be enhanced through the guidance and assistance of lead expert and advisory groups. The pool of experienced local experts trained by such groups, as well as the members of these groups, play an important role in providing guidance for future land degradation prevention and control in other provinces and autonomous regions.

Interagency cooperation and collaboration in policy and planning. Improved institutional coordination and harmonization of land degradation policies, legislation, programs, and budgets is needed. Interagency cooperation and collaboration in policy and planning of IEM strategies and plans ensure that complex problems related to land degradation control are addressed following a participatory approach and that government agencies, private sector agencies, and local communities have a clear understanding of their delineated tasks and responsibilities. A consistent legislative, regulatory, and planning framework for land degradation control must likewise be created to ensure efficient coordination of land degradation prevention and control projects funded by various government and donor sources, and cost- effective use of funds.

Importance of awareness building. Strong awareness among stakeholders, especially the public, on the state of the environment and natural resources is important for gaining support for government plans and strategies for land degradation control and for overall environmental and natural resource management in general. Disclosure of government plans for management, and conservation and protection provides a solid foundation for cooperation in planning and implementing IEM plans and strategies. Important decisions, plans, and proposed investment projects should be disclosed through public media for soliciting public opinion. Awareness building should be complemented by an effective information-sharing multimedia system.

Importance of a database system and information-sharing mechanism. Clarification on the institutional role of each agency regarding IEM and land degradation control provides a clear basis for defining the type and level of data to be collected by each participating agency in the joint and collaborative management of environmental and natural resources. For information sharing to be effective and useful, the institutional value of data should be recognized and access to data should be made available for all government agencies in a timely and practical manner.

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