Main Issue

In most developing countries, sustainable land management (SLM) opens up major opportunities for both the environment and the people who depend on it. SLM enables farmers to intensify existing land more sustainably, enhancing productivity without degrading land resources. It also ensures improved management of agro-ecosystem services across production systems, reduces pressure on natural resources and helps improve and sustain economic productivity and environmental sustainability.

For many countries, the challenge of achieving SLM comes down to short-term profit over long-term sustainability. Decision-makers, for example, will often replace natural forests with plantations or farm land. Those ready to adopt SLM approaches may face economic, institutional or other kinds of barriers, and lack knowledge and technology innovations to overcome them.

The three Rio Conventions have overlapping concerns regarding biodiversity loss, land degradation and deforestation, including implications for livelihoods and food security. As a result, there is potential for greater synergy among the CBDUNCCD and UNFCCC. Through adoption of SLM, countries can implement the conventions in a collaborative way that address climate change, introduce renewable energy technologies and combat deforestation.

What We Do

As financing mechanism of the Rio Conventions, the GEF is the world’s largest source of funding for sustainable land management. We focus on desertification and deforestation through removal of economic, policy, knowledge and institutional barriers to SLM. In so doing, we help build a foundation to improve the livelihood of millions or rural people who rely on agriculture to survive.

The GEF has been a major catalyst of innovations in sustainable land management. Such innovative approaches, for example, have helped conserve biodiversity and agrobiodiversity, reduced risk of pollution and degradation of water resources and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and increased sustainability and resiliency. Our investments in SLM can serve as an important entry point to promote climate-smart agriculture and food security. Read more+


Since 2006, the GEF has invested more than $1.0 billion in 220 integrated land management projects. These funds have leveraged another $3 billion from partners. Together, the GEF's SLM portfolio has placed over 143 million hectares under sustainable land management, benefitting more than 80 million smallholders. Our achievements have reinforced humanity’s capacity to harness goods and services from nature and transform them into sustainable production landscapes.

The Great Green Wall Initiative is “greening” Africa from west to east by establishing a wide belt of sustainable land management schemes to tackle desertification. In so doing, it is helping communities in the sustainable management and use of landscapes including forests and trees, rangelands and other natural resources. By 2019, some 1.5 million hectares of lands and forests were being managed sustainably. This was contributing to better carbon sequestration and increased resilience of the region’s ecosystems and livelihoods. To date, at least 22 million people have benefited.