Bringing "top-down" to "bottom-up": A new role for environmental legislation in combating desertification

Alon Tal, Jessica A. Cohen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Scopus citations


    The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification is the instrument that emerged from two years of negotiation. The UNCCD was designed to provide a global response to desertification by directing strategy plans individually and regionally to prevent soil degradation and restore degraded lands. Among the distinguishing characteristics of the UNCCD is its emphasis on a bottom-up approach in which communities are engaged in defining the solutions to their specific desertification problems. Unfortunately, this bias has brought with it an implicit suspicion of centralized, top-down policies. Although parties to the Convention are encouraged to enact legislation, this should be done in a consensual context as part of an overall strategy that does not try to impose solutions from above but works to craft them in conjunction with the affected communities. This approach promises practical benefits in terms of actual participation and adoption of responsible land management practices. Today, over 190 countries are parties to the Convention, making it the most widely adopted of the modern international environmental initiatives.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)163-217
    Number of pages55
    JournalHarvard Environmental Law Review
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 29 Mar 2007

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
    • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
    • Law


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