How to Scale Up Incentives for Sustainable Land Management?

Healthy soils play a crucial role for several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), like SDG 2 “Zero Hunger”, SDG 3 “Good Health and Well-Being”, SDG 13 “Climate Action” or SDG 15 “Life on Land”. Thus, the challenge of scaling up Sustainable Land Management (SLM) in the context of development cooperation is a pressing task to be addressed by organizations like the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).


Today, farmers do not only face global agricultural market demands. In addition, the environmental-friendly management of resources, like soils, water, or biodiversity, is affected by global climate change, land degradation and other biotic and abiotic stress factors. Thus, the choices of individual farmers or cooperatives on how to manage land – and especially soil – is embedded in a complex and multi-dimensional framework with the challenge to combine economic, environmental, and societal sustainability demands.


Against this background, HFFA Research supported the GIZ Sector Project “Soil Conservation, Combatting Desertification, Sustainable Land Management” (SV BoDeN) with evidence-based practical guidance on how to use incentives for scaling up SLM to generate wider impact in development cooperation. Next to SV BoDeN, the project is realized in cooperation with the GIZ Global Project “Soil Protection and Rehabilitation of Degraded Soil for Food Security” (ProSoil), both projects being implemented on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

The focus of the assignment was to provide clear guidance for GIZ project managers on how to practically decide for and implement relevant incentives in their given project-context. To scope and strategically organize existing incentive schemes for SLM, our expert team developed a “Guide to identify context-specific sets of incentives for scaling up Sustainable Land Management” and related working material, which was based on a thorough analysis of existing research and literature. For integrating practical experiences and lessons learned from relevant GIZ projects, the Guide and related working material was presented for feedback and improvement to relevant GIZ project staff during workshops.


The incentives developed in the Guide are structured according to five fields of actions, that allow relevant GIZ staff to get a quick but comprehensive overview of existing instruments potentially relevant for their project contexts:


  1. Land Governance;
  2. Trade Regulations, Tax and Subsidy System;
  3. Market Structure and Market Development;
  4. Finance and Risk Management;
  5. SLM Technologies and Methodologies.


Thus, the results of the project provide guidance and orientation for actors from the development cooperation sector on how to convince and motivate relevant stakeholders to manage their land and soil in a sustainable way – even if the productivity gains may only fully materialize in the long run. Furthermore, by producing a concluding Discussion Paper with relevant recommendations, the HFFA Research team strengthened GIZ to open the floor for further activities on this important topic.


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