The Soil Leadership Academy (SLA) was launched on the 1st of January 2014, as an innovative public-private partnership, to complement the UNCCD 10-year Strategy. The proposal is being championed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and is under active consideration by member companies as part of Action 2020 commitments. Initial investment is to be provided by Syngenta.
Private sector companies, academic agencies, research institutions, and intergovernmental organizations met in Bonn, Germany on 12-13 March 2014 at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) headquarters to frame a bold and ambitious work plan for 2014/2015.
The purpose of the Soil Leadership Academy (SLA) is to strengthen (inter)national policy processes and frameworks by inspiring decision makers to take practical action to scale-up sustainable land and water management and combat desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD). The SLA will support the achievement of a land-degradation neutral world as it has been laid out in the outcome document of Rio+20 – The Future We Want – and it is currently being negotiated in the OWG for the SDGs.
The SLA is open to public sector participants. The target group of the SLA capacity building course will be ministers, director generals as well as other civil servants in decision-making positions. This may be extended to high level business decision makers. It is planned that at least 60 selected policy/decision makers will have participated in the simulation game completing the training course by the end of 2015.
Participants will be encouraged to apply their new knowledge and skills at international/national/sub-national or corporate level. Hence, the SLA presents a coordinated and sustained effort to strengthen member countries decision making capacity in the field of sustainable land and water management and increases the efficiency of the Convention’s implementation into national/sub-national legislation.
Phase 1: Development of the simulation tool
Step 1: Content and methodology development for simulation tool
This step represents the development of the curriculum, the consequent compilation of a compendium (fact sheets) as well as the development of the methodology for the simulation tool by UNU-EHS in cooperation with multiple partners by December 31, 2014.
The training curriculum intends to address challenges policy makers are currently facing when implementing the UNCCD and/or promoting sustainable land and water management. The academic elements of the curriculum are set to underpin a bespoke simulation tool (Phase 1, step 2). This tool will be based on contrasting and combining results from different studies, with the purpose of identifying patterns among study results, sources of disagreement among those results, or other interesting relationships that may come to light in the context of multiple studies.
Before the actual development of the content for the curriculum (e.g. case studies, research results) can take place, the partner consortium has to be identified. The UNCCD will work with interested partners as already partially identified during the workshop held in Bonn (11-14.03.14). However, only some of the organizations mentioned below have yet committed to contribute to this exercise while others still need to be contacted.
The organizations in bold were suggested as the ones who could take the lead in the development of the different elements as they have been defined in the curriculum. Lead organizations will be in charge of the collection, compilation and structuring of the data/material collected by the contributing organizations. In addition, lead organizations will be the main contact for the project manager and UNU-EHS (development of the academic methodology).
UNU-EHS will develop the methodology for the content providers (partner consortium) who develop the elements for the training curriculum. In addition, practical case studies, field demonstration sites and videos to be included in training program will be identified.
The proposed methodology to be used is the PRISMA model. This methodology tool evidentiates clear patterns which could be accessed in order to serve the purpose and objective of this training curriculum. WRITE-SHOPS will take place during this step (workshops where the main task will consist of writing suggestions).
The following steps will be undertaken by UNU-EHS:
1. Formulation of the problem
2. Academic research (desk and field research)
3. Incorporation of criteria:
• Based on quality criteria, e.g. which decisions are important to be taken? Which decisions are most important in which specific areas?
• Selection of particular studies on a well-specified subject, e.g. land tenure, agriculture, etc.
4. Produce dependent variables based on differences (discrete data), means (continuous data)
The research will answer the general question of decision making with regards to land management and its immediate, medium and long term impacts. The graph below exemplifies how the variables of the study change their patterns when a positive/negative decision is taken at policy level and its impact on different sectors of interest, such as income, employment, biodiversity, food production and health.