A strategic response to SLM finance: why?
The UNCCD created the National Action Programme (NAP) as the main tool for addressing land degradation at the national level. However, although most NAPs have been able to capture the broad technical aspects of desertification and certain strategic elements, programmatic approaches in other areas such as agriculture, water and forest management have met with higher political support at the country-level.
The strategy for financing SLM therefore needs to take a flexible approach taking into account country realities. As donors are increasingly aligning their priorities with those of the recipient countries, articulating sustainable land management (SLM) as one of the national development priorities becomes crucially important.
Sustained financing for SLM requires a strategic approach that is both long term and integrated in its perspective, by linking various relevant development processes at the national level.
The GM has developed the concept of the Integrated Financing Strategy (IFS) for sustainable land management, as a response to these demands.
The Integrated Financing Strategy
What is it?
The IFS is a structured process that supports countries to mobilize a mix of financial resources to fund projects and programmes related to SLM.
The ultimate objective of the strategy is to ensure adequate, predictable and sustainable financing, by leading the way to the establishment of an Integrated Investment Framework (IIF) for SLM, as called for by the UNCCD Ten Year Strategy. The IIF is an umbrella agreement between national and international partners that packages finance for SLM from a broad range of sources.
How does the IFS work?
The IFS adopts a flexible step-by-step approach towards boosting investments in SLM. The starting point for any IFS is an in-depth analysis of the current investment climate for resource allocation. Constraints that may have hampered financial flows into SLM are identified and actions recommended for improving this environment.
Once this picture is clear, the IFS strives to integrate SLM as a national development and investment priority into key development policies and processes, such as Poverty Reduction Strategies and national budgetary frameworks. Known as mainstreaming, this is a key step in promoting investment into SLM, with the potential to increase domestic budgetary allocation and attract greater international public and private investments.
Indeed, practical opportunities for financing are identified throughout the IFS process from a variety of sources, including the country's domestic budget, international sources and innovative financing mechanisms, such as from climate change and trade initiatives.
At the end of an IFS process, it is expected that SLM be defined as a national priority area, with an Integrated Investment Framework (IIF) established containing a list of funded projects and programmes for SLM. The IIF is continuously updated as new financial agreements are entered into.
Who is involved?
The IFS is a country-owned process developed and undertaken by a consortium of partners under the leadership of the UNCCD Focal Point Ministry, with support provided by the GM. Partners include national government bodies, international development agencies, civil society organisations and the private sector. Each country's approach to developing an IFS is different. In many countries it is likely to require the coordination of several processes, some existing and others new. Whatever its format, an IFS must fit the country's national environmental, political, economic and institutional conditions.
Partnership is crucial to the development of the IFS, since this provides the best chance to increase investments into land. Indeed, a central premise of the IFS is that by bringing together players across a variety of sectors, dialogue is forged between actors who have previously had little interaction. After all many of the objectives of the ministries of trade, finance, agriculture and environment are converging. Interaction between national ministries is therefore vital in capturing the true value of productive lands to issues such as macro-economic growth, climate change and trade. More importantly it raises the prospect of increased financing for UNCCD implementation.