CASCADE organised a special session at the 2013 UNCCD scientific conference

CASCADE representatives have recently attended the UNCCD's 2nd Scientific Conference in Bonn, held from 9-12 April, 2013 in Bonn, Germany . The special session they presented was well-received, a report can be read below.

Catastrophic Shifts in Drylands: How Can We Prevent Ecosystem Degradation? How to Overcome the Difficulties of Successful Engagement of Non-Scientific Stakeholders? -  This special session on the EU’s CASCADE project was organized by Martha Dunbar (JRC) and Luuk Fleskens (Wageningen University), both partners in the CASCADE project.


Susana Bautista
, University of Alicante, Spain, introduced the project, noting its aim is to understand tipping points in dryland ecosystems that may lead to major losses in biodiversity and concomitant ecosystem services. She said the project is being implemented on six degraded sites in the Mediterranean region where scientists aim to mimic natural systems to generate new insights and practical knowledge for better land management.

Luuk Fleskens, University of Leeds, UK, outlined a new cost-benefit analysis methodology being developed by the project that incorporates high resolution GIS-modeling to factor in the environmental dimension when assessing the financial impacts of action or inaction.

Drawing on environmental management research conducted in southern Africa, Andrew Dougill, University of Leeds, noted that research uptake is enhanced when: scientists communicate the “good news” of effective SLM at local level; efforts are made to involve all stakeholders when explaining models of change and policy impacts; and practical guidelines based on research are disseminated widely at national and district level to spur positive change on the ground. On specific insights for the CASCADE project, Dougill encouraged site study teams to proactively engage with policymakers to ensure that local insights go to scale.

During discussion, delegates highlighted the importance of not glorifying local knowledge but explaining the rationale behind good practices in scientific terms. On enhancing the UNCCD’s role in bridging the science-policy-practice gap, one contributor identified the regional level as the “missing link” and called for more focus on strengthening regional groups for improved knowledge sharing and coordinated action on SLM. 

Adapting to Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction through SLM: Hanspeter Liniger, University of Berne, Switzerland, described a pilot project in Tajikistan to adapt to climate change through SLM. He emphasized gathering knowledge from individuals in the affected area, followed by pulling in relevant information from outside experts. He highlighted upscaling local solutions and distinguishing among the solutions necessary for "in-village, near-village and off-village." Liniger also presented a pilot project to enhance existing World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) knowledge with video and new media (link).

[report by Dr. Nichola Geeson - CASCADE project]



>> Download the Summary text of the Third Special Session of the UNCCD committee on Science and TechnologyHERE (107Kb).

>> The session report by M. Dunbar and L. Fleskens can be downloadedHERE (68Kb).