Erick Fernandes:
Mainstreaming Sustainable Land Management in Agriculture, Natural Resource Management, and Rural Development Programs


The World Bank, Department of Land Management, United States of America

More than 1 billion people -- two-thirds of them women -- live in extreme poverty on less than $1 per day. Transforming agriculture is a key element in achieving poverty reduction in many of the poorest countries, since most of the poor live in rural areas, and largely depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Agricultural activities account for the greatest share of household production and consumption for the rural poor. Improving the productivity of agriculture has significant multiplier effects through the effects on wages and food prices. Current models of extensive agriculture and industrial growth have resulted in substantial risks to the natural resource base and to the environment. Globally, 12-15 million hectares of forests and substantial areas of grasslands and wetlands are lost annually. A further 5-10 million hectares are subject to severe degradation. The Global Land Assessment of Degradation (GLASOD) estimates 22% of all cropland, pasture, forest, and woodland) have been degraded since the 1950s. Future sustainable development will rely heavily on intensified agriculture and sustainable land management (SLM). Policies aimed at improving the livelihood of the poor but which fail fully to address SLM issues will have limited or no impact. Technically, the causes of environmental decline are well understood. Sustainable land management (SLM) is closely linked with soil conservation, but the solution is not only technology-dependent. Poverty and land degradation have both social and environmental linkages. Providing enhanced farmer access to markets does little to address poverty if those farmers do not have the knowledge, technologies, and standards that the markets demand. Land redistribution in the absence of well functioning support for new land users can simply spread poverty and land degradation to new areas. This presentation briefly examines the considerable work on SLM done by the Bank, FAO, CGIAR and other stakeholders and discusses the World Bank's efforts to build upon existing scientific and traditional knowledge and experience to guide and prioritise future Bank investments in NRM to reduce poverty.

Keywords: Land management, transforming agriculture, World Bank


Contact Address: Erick Fernandes, The World Bank, Department of Land ManagementWashington DC, United States of America, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, September 2004