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World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) . External Evaluation Report 2019

Abstract

The overall vision of the WOCAT (World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies) network is to improve land resources and ecosystems and people’s livelihoods by sharing, enhancing, and using knowledge, and building capacity on Sustainable Land Management (SLM). WOCAT has since its launch in 1992 generated an array of outputs that need to be reviewed in terms of quality, relevance and user friendliness. This includes the Global WOCAT SLM database, tools, methods, books and articles. Since the last review in 2011, the WOCAT network has been strengthened and the adequacy and efficiency of the new set-up is evaluated. The evaluation also has a strong focus on assessing the impacts that WOCAT has achieved after more than 25 years of operation. A combination of methods was used, including documentation review, a questionnaire survey sent out to the entire network, semi-structured interviews with key informants, participation in the 19th global WOCAT Network Meeting in mid-May 2019, and field visits to four countries.

7.1 Collaboration between WOCAT and the UNCCD
An agreement between UNCCD and WOCAT was signed on 15 April 2014. UNCCD identified WOCAT as a primary recommended database for best practices on SLM technologies. An evaluation has already been undertaken of the cooperation between WOCAT and the UNCCD Secretariat. It was commissioned by the UNCCD and published in April 2018. It concludes that the WOCAT-UNCCD Secretariat cooperation has been relevant for the UNCCD priorities as set out in the Convention and the decisions of the COP. However, until mid-2016, the efficiency of the cooperation was below expectations due to e.g. lack of a jointly designed plan of operation and no detailed plan for the budget existed nor agreement on the exact use of the resources. Nevertheless, the cooperation has so far delivered upon its tasks as stipulated in the agreement. Although the assessment of impact was not the main focus of the evaluation, there was evidence of use of the SLM best practices for planning and decision-making in country Parties to the Convention.
In the current evaluation of WOCAT, the questionnaire survey as well as semi-structured interviews included a qualitative question on: How does the SLM global knowledge platform help reporting to the UNCCD on best practices and/or LDN?

Impact of WOCAT
The WOCAT database is often used as a source of information for selection of SLM practices and for learning about SLM implementation, which indicates that WOCAT has an important role in informing implementation of SLM and not only in its documentation.

There is remote sensing as well as field evidence that WOCAT has had significant impact in a number of countries on land resources, ecosystems and livelihoods in terms of increase in land productivity and carbon stocks as well as incomes. However, WOCAT should collect information on SLM impacts more systematically.

WOCAT has been mainstreamed in an impressive number of multilateral and bilateral projects and positively influenced investment flows to SLM of billions of US dollars. However, it would also be useful to better track which donor-funded projects have adopted the WOCAT tools and methods in order to better assess the funding WOCAT has contributed to leveraging in support of SLM.

In terms of research, it would be useful to better link the understanding of conditions enabling SLM to social science theory on what is driving as well as hindering behavioural change necessary to achieve scaling up of SLM. Impact assessment and monitoring of land management impacts on ecosystem health and ecosystem services is also urgently needed, including scenario building and modelling of both on- and off-site impacts of scaling out of SLM.

WOCAT has become a global flagship programme in SLM closely linked to the UNCCD. However, in an everchanging global environment, the need for WOCAT to continuously reflect on its relevance to partners and other stakeholder is critical. WOCAT has reached a turning point when it comes to maintaining its functions and securing its funding. The size and scope of the network has outgrown the current management structure as well as its core funding. There is strong evidence that the demand for SLM knowledge is growing and urgently needed to address global environmental challenges exacerbated by climate change and population growth, and to achieve the SDGs. This is further underlined by the recently released IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land. A concerted and international effort is required to ensure the continuation of WOCAT and the services it provides to land users, countries, donors and the UNCCD.

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