ICARDA/CGIAR Scientists win the UN’s International Technology Innovation Competition

Published Date
April 01, 2021
Published by
ICARDA Communication Team

ICARDA’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Team (MEL) and Social, Economy and Policies Team  are thrilled to have received an award for innovation in halting land degradation through a tool that helps better inform land planning and the undertaking of restoration activities. The award was made by The Group on Earth Observation Land Degradation Neutrality (GEO-LDN) Initiative, overseen by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

The winning LUP4LDN tool (Land Use Planning for Land Degradation Neutrality) integrates land degradation neutrality (LDN) into participatory land use planning via a user-friendly interface that helps land planners identify the best areas on which to focus land restoration efforts. It also identifies which sustainable land management interventions are optimal to achieve sustainable LDN and protect land from ongoing degradation. The interface visualizes and models representations of land degradation now and in the future, and allows comparisons of outcomes of different approaches. To do so, it pools the most accurate and up to date information and data from reliable sources such as World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT), Geo-Informatics Options by Context (GeOC), Trends.Earth, as well as takes into account stakeholders own local knowledge.



Over 23 teams with participants from 36 countries entered the competition, and although it was won by the LUP4LDN tool, the aim of the competition was to foster development of innovation towards transparent and well-informed land use planning and management, and the solving one of the world’s greatest environmental challenges. 

“Of the tools presented, the LUP4LDN tool is the most innovative and the most directly responsive to the Competition’s challenge. LUP4LDN moves beyond analyzing data - it brings stakeholders together. It directly facilitates collaborative land use planning and the process guidance provided is applicable globally”  said a jury spokesperson.

The LUP4LDN team is a consortium of institutions and experts convened by ICARDA that include WOCAT, SCiO and The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative hosted by GIZ. This offers a huge resource of specialist scientific know-how, resulting in award winning tools such as LUP4LDN that aim at family farmers, land planners, farmer associations and policymakers as the end-users. 
Each of the LUP4LDN Team brought their own area of expertise to the winning tool to cover development areas such as user experience, agricultural modelling, user training aspects, and understanding of specific climate related challenges such as land degradation and neutrality. The tool also uses databases and customizes apart methodology of Trends. Earth, a tool platform for enabling the use of global data sources to assess and monitor land degradation jointly developed by Conservation International, Lund University, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

“We are thrilled to have been recognized by the UNCDD. Land degradation is one of the major challenges facing farming families globally and even more so in vulnerable dry regions. The LUP4LDN tool will help farmers and land planner neutralize degradation and get their land back to fertile, productive, areas that will kick start economies, bring in income and nutrition to farmers, and halt economic migration” said Enrico Bonaiuti, Team Leader MEL.

Tools like LUP4LDN are shared through partners such as WOCAT, a GIZ funded internationally recognized global network on Sustainable Land Management (SLM) that promotes the documentation, sharing and use of knowledge to support adaptation, innovation and decision-making in SLM.

“Congratulations! Lots of effort went into the preparatory process and it has paid off. We are certainly looking forward to the upcoming results from the work with LUP4LDN and integrate them in our workstream.” Marc Schauer, ELD Secretariat Coordinator 


Competition Winner Announcement

The LUP4LDN tool builds on previously developed tools that digitalize research-for-development, such as its GeOC, funded by GIZ and developed by the former CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems hosted by ICARDA, as well other digital resources and tools provided by WOCAT of which ICARDA together with The Alliance of Bioversity International, CIAT, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), University of Bern, Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) , ISRIC, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) International Soil Reference and Information Centre (ISRIC - World Soil Information), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) are founding members.