Drylands contribute strongly to national economies, but they tend to be disregarded as marginal areas and receive low public investment and limited political interest. The uniqueness of dryland ecology, biodiversity and livelihood systems is also poorly reflected in public policy. Many public investments are guided by the desire to change or eliminate local adaptations. The erosion of local indigenous institutions often undermines the use of local knowledge for sustainable natural resource management. Science is essential for sustainable drylands development and conservation, but frequently scientific knowledge is not well adapted to the drylands or is not developed in partnership with local end-users and cognisant of their existing knowledge and practices.
Dryland knowledge management for improved policy and investment
Local and indigenous communities in the drylands are repositories of a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be instrumental in developing good policies and practice. At the same time, emerging science is improving our understanding of dryland ecology and how best to manage it. IUCN facilitates the convergence of these different knowledge systems and works to improve communication of new ideas and approaches in order to achieve more evidence-based and consultative decision making.
Photo: Clara Herreros Murueta-Goyena / IUCN
Improved knowledge management can address these shortcomings by creating the opportunities and building the capacities for improved application of knowledge in decision making processes. IUCN supports bringing together local knowledge and science to improve understanding of the challenges of the drylands and the opportunities for sustainable drylands management and conservation whilst achieving more consultative decision making. This will contribute to empowering communities and marginalised groups through knowledge exchange as well as improving public decision-making through improved access to and use of empirical evidence on sustainable drylands management.
Dryland knowledge management for improved policy and investment will link dryland initiatives to global monitoring processes, such as the Red Listing of Threatened Species and the Red List of Ecosystems programmes of IUCN. Through the application of internationally recognized risk assessment criteria the Red List of Ecosystems will highlight dryland ecosystems which are vulnerable or endangered. This will strengthen IUCN’s ability to identify and prioritise dryland habitats and ecosystems for work under other strategic priority areas, including maintaining an emphasis on the full range of diverse dryland ecosystem types (mountains, lowlands, hyper arid to dry sub humid etc.).