In many parts of the world, land has become an increasingly scarce resource (ELD Initiative 2015). There are more and more demands on land to produce a diverse range of products such as timber and fuel, but in particular food for an expanding population. Land also provides a range of services including water purification and carbon storage. As a result of all these different demands, the competition between land users and land uses increases. Not only is the quantity of land available for production under current technical and economic conditions limited, but there is evidence that its quality is degrading through, for example, farming practices that result in water and wind erosion, the loss of organic matter, topsoil compaction, salinization, soil pollution or nutrient loss (FAO 2011). Common ways to address these challenges include intensifying current land use, expanding into marginal lands or boosting production through structural reforms. In many places, the way land has been managed over the past 30 years has not slowed the pace of land degradation, let alone reversed it (ELD Initiative 2015). All these dynamics underline the urgent need to manage the available land more sustainably in both the medium and longer term.

The Global Programme „Soil protection and rehabilitation for food security“ which is implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, works with partners who identified the need for sharing and implementing sustainable approaches for soil protection and rehabilitation in six countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, India, Kenya and Madagascar). At the political level, the programme advises the partner governments on improving general political conditions. The governments have to create incentives for farmers and smaller enterprises to use the soil in more sustainable ways. To support these national activities, the programme organizes international forums that encourage participants to share lessons learned.

The Land Matters! Integrating soil degradation concerns and solutions into policy processes Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is contributing to the aforementioned Global Programme. Many academics and practitioners struggle to support decision making which takes into account land use related trade-offs in ecosystem service provision, even though many have evidence of such trade-offs. The MOOC therefore helps them in finding ways to support decision-making. It is hosted on the GIZ online platform, Global Campus 21, and includes the following features:

  • Pre-recorded video lectures by experts from around the world; 
  • Introductory webinar (to provide a broad overview and create a sense of community); 
  • Forum, news feed and support options through which participants can discuss key MOOC topics, exchange views with experts and other participants, receive information and ask questions; 
  • A collection of course materials, literature and references. 

The MOOC was developed in English, but all lectures and a selection of literature are also available in French. Those participants who successfully completed the MOOC between August & October 2018 were awarded a certificate from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH (only applies to participation between August & October 2018). 

Land Matters! Integrating soil degradation concerns and solutions into policy processes 2018 Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) of the Global Programme “Soil protection and rehabilitation for food security”

This Course hosts Module 5:  What are the institutional framework conditions that are needed to bring about change? 
How do institutions deliver action? 

This work was undertaken as part of, and funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC) and supported by CGIAR Fund Donors  About CRP-GLDC  About the CGIAR.