Why UNCCD among others?

UNCCD’s position among the other actors ¶

This section aims to point out UNCCD’s role among other institutions and actors in order for you to understand its scope of action and where it is supposed to perform well. This represents an overview of the main actors involved in land degradation.

As you can see, there are many different types of actors intervening in the governance of land degradation. The main institutions from the United Nations system are the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), when the international environmental agreements covering partially the issue of land degradation are the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and UNCCD. When the first one mentioned are a functional type of institution, which means that they exist to perform a specific task (like collect data for FAO), the three other institutions are of a normative type, meaning that they are based on a treaty (Hall, 2015).

Some additional actors are present in the map such as countries particularly involved in programs or partnerships on land protection. Private actors are also present as they partner a lot with the public sector and NGOs in order to implement some initiatives on soil degradation. Public-private partnerships are growing in number in the last years as UN institutions and governments are often lacking the funding (De Castro et al., 2014). The ties that are linking the actors are either membership (specially states to institutions), partnerships (private and public sector with NGOs) and financing, such as UN institution to the expert group IPCC or international economic organization such as the GEF, World Bank to UN institutions.

From this network of actors, this blog will focus on one institution in particular. The main international environmental agreement covering at least a major part of land degradation is the United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). This map helps to visualize the ties with other actor, have an overview of the complexity of the governance and also, how the institution is acting in coordination with all the others. Among the other UN actors, let’s take a closer look at the position UNCCD has.

UNCCD’s scope of action among other UN actors ¶

The infographic below is giving an overview of the main actors from the UN system involved in land degradation but with their role highlighted in the issue. As land degradation main causes are related to agriculture, the infographic gives a special focus on the food system. FAO has a role of supporting and informing states on the current state of desertification and advocating for certain policies. UNFCCC is focused on the climate change impacts on land. CBD’s role is to act on biodiversity loss more than protecting the soil.


Therefore, we can see that UNCCD is the only normative institution acting particularly on all the steps of production of food, on the environmental drivers of desertification and also at the socioeconomic level of the issue. UNCCD is the institutional framework established by states, which is composed of a set of rules and norms that they all have to follow in order to stop desertification. As we will see, the specific design of the institution as well as the participatory gaps are provoking some major challenges in the effectiveness of the institution to tackle desertification. Learn more on this on the next section!