Economics of Land Degradation

IFPRI/ZEF study cited at UN meeting on desertification
September 21, 2011

A recent IFPRI/ZEF study on the economics of land degradation was a topic of discussion at this week's UN High-Level meeting on desertification. Andris Piebbalgs, the EU commissioner for development, cited the research findings in his speech to the General Assembly, and a side event followed where the study's results and future actions were discussed in more detail.

Land degradation poses a serious threat to long-term food security, yet investments in its prevention and mitigation have lagged. The authors of the new study analyze why this is the case and recommend three priority actions for the international development community:

More information

Issue brief
UN press release on the meeting
Video of the meeting

  • Decentralize natural resource management, invest in agricultural research and development, and build local capacity for participatory programs;
  • Scale up applied research;
  • Use the models of influential global initiatives in natural resource management to tackle land and soil degradation.

The issue brief, Economics of Land Degradation: The costs of action versus inaction was co-authored by Ephraim Nkonya and Alex De Pinto of IFPRI's Environment and Production Technology Division, and Nicolas Gerber and Joachim von Braun of the Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany. It is based on the book, The Economics of Land Degradation: Toward an Integrated Global Assessment, by Ephraim Nkonya, Nicolas Gerber, Philipp Baumgartner, Joachim von Braun, Alex De Pinto, Valerie Graw, Edward Kato, Julia Kloos, and Teresa Walter, published by Peter Lang Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften, 2011.

The September 20 UN meeting was focused on actions aimed at protecting drylands, which are increasingly threatened due to poor land-management practices and climate change.