UNESCO's Experience of Fifty Years of Drylands Research and Outreach

  • Thomas Schaaf
Conference paper

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was the first UN agency that addressed dryland ecosystems from a scientific point of view. By using field research projects from Kenya, Ghana, Northern Africa and Asia, the paper provides examples of some fifty years of UNESCO's involvement in dryland studies. More importantly, the paper illustrates how the type of research projects has changed over time. In the earlier days, field research was mostly conducted by specialists trained in the natural sciences; in the 1990s, social and cultural components to promote environmental conservation and gain a better understand of human-nature interactions grew in relative importance vis-à-vis the natural sciences. Today, UNESCO's research projects take primarily an information sharing approach involving scientists from different dryland countries. Outreach to decision-makers on sustainable land management and environmental education targeted at schools are considered key components in combating desertification.


Dryland research sacred sites Sustainable Management of Marginal Drylands project desertification outreach education 


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Copyright information

© UNESCO 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Schaaf
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences, Man and the Biosphere (MAB) ProgrammeUNESCOParisFrance

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