World’s best policies on land restoration shortlisted for Future Policy Award 2017

Hamburg/Bonn, 20 July 2017 – The 2017 Future Policy Award has released a shortlist of the world’s best policies for tackling land degradation, one of humanity’s foremost challenges that undermines food security, livelihoods and the health of hundreds of millions of people.


The six shortlisted policies are from Australia, Brazil, China, Ethiopia’s Tigray Region, Jordan, and Niger. The international 4 per 1000 initiative is also contending for the Future Policy Award.

The prestigious award, which focuses on a different area of policy progress each year, celebrates exemplary laws that create better living conditions for current and future generations.

For this year’s award, the World Future Council teamed up with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to highlight laws and policies that contribute in two ways.


First, laws that protect of life and livelihoods in the drylands. Drylands cover close to 40 per cent of the Earth’s land and are extremely vulnerable to over-exploitation, inappropriate land use and climate variability. They are among the most conflict- and drought-prone regions of the world.

Droughts, which are getting more severe, frequent and widespread with climate change, are common in drylands, and can amplify tensions within and between communities. In the last century, droughts killed more people than any other weather-related catastrophe.

Second, laws that advance Sustainable Development Goal 15, target 3, which is to combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world.

Political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices can all contribute to desertification. Without action to restore and rehabilitate degraded land, an estimated 135 million people are at risk of being displaced by desertification.


UNCCD’s Executive Secretary Monique Barbut describes desertification as “a silent, invisible crisis that is destabilizing communities on a global scale.”


In total, twenty-seven policies and initiatives from 18 countries were nominated. Shortlisted as the world’s best policies to combat desertification and land degradation are:

  • Australia: Indigenous Protected Areas programme and Working on Country Indigenous Rangers programme. Indigenous Rangers are at the forefront of tackling environmental degradation right across Australia. 75 Indigenous Protected Areas now make up more than 44 per cent of the National Reserve System and have created the world’s largest contiguous area of protected arid land.
  • Brazil: Cistern Programme and the National Programme to Support Rainwater Harvesting and Other Social Technologies for Access to Water. This programme is a participative, bottom-up way to provide water for consumption and for growing food and keeping livestock. It empowers millions of the poorest people in the region to be in control of their own needs, to generate income and enhance their food security.
  • China: Law of the People’s Republic of China on Prevention and Control of Desertification. This is the world’s first integrated law dedicated to combating desertification. It provides a framework for China’s National Action Programme and a host of projects aimed at rehabilitating at risk land. Over the last 15 years, China has reversed the trend of desertification. It is no coincidence that the country lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty during the same period.
  • Ethiopia’s Tigray Region: Conservation-Based Agricultural Development-Led Industrialization supported by Mass Mobilization Campaigns and the Youth Responsive Land Policy More people less erosion. The Tigray region’s interpretation of Ethiopia’s development strategy focusses on food self-sufficiency and economic growth by conserving land and promoting sustainable agriculture. With unique collective action, voluntary labour and the involvement of youth the people of Tigray are restoring land on a massive scale.
  • International: The 4 per 1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate. This awareness raising, high-level political initiative communicates a new concept for mitigating climate change through the annual increase in soil organic carbon by 0.4 per cent in the top 30-40 cm of the agricultural soils. It encourages a paradigm shift in agricultural practice.
  • Jordan: Updated Rangeland Strategy for Jordan. Traditionally, Bedouin people in Jordan effectively govern their rangelands through their own land tenure systems and grazing rights known as “Hima”. The Rangeland Strategy embraces this holistic concept which integrates natural resources, community life, ethics, animal welfare and more.
  • Niger: 3N Initiative ‘Nigeriens Nourishing Nigeriens’ – Strategy for food security, nutrition, and sustainable agricultural development. The initiative is a large-scale and cross-sectoral policy enhancing sustainable agricultural development and socio-economic resilience of farmers and herders. It was developed in an inclusive and participatory process. Since 2011, Niger has reduced the number of people suffering from hunger by 50 per cent.


The winners will be announced on 22 August 2017. The award ceremony will take place during the Thirteen Session of the Conference of the Parties of UNCCD in Ordos, China, scheduled from 6-16 September 2017.

The Future Policy Award is unique in focusing global attention towards the most effective policies changing lives across the planet. The aim of the award is to raise global awareness for exemplary laws and policies.

The policy evaluation is based on the “Seven Principles for Future Just Lawmaking.” Consequently, policies score high not only by promoting the sustainable use of resources but also by addressing equity, eradication of poverty, participation, and peaceful resolution of conflicts.

For more information, please visit



Media contact

Miriam Petersen
Media & Communications Manager
Tel: +49 40 307 09 14 19

Wagaki Wischenewsjki
Public Information and Media Officer
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
Tel: +49 228 815 2820

The World Future Council

The World Future Council brings the interests of future generations to the centre of policy-making. Its up to 50 eminent members from around the globe have already successfully promoted change. The Council addresses challenges to our common future and provides decision makers with effective policy solutions. In close cooperation with civil society actors, parliamentarians, governments, business and international organizations the World Future Council identifies “best policies” around the globe. The World Future Council is registered as a charitable foundation in Hamburg, Germany.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the only legally binding international agreement on land issues. The Convention promotes good land stewardship. Its 196 Parties aim, through partnerships, to implement the Convention and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The end goal is to protect our land, from over-use and drought, so it can continue to provide us all with food, water and energy. By sustainably managing land and striving to achieve land degradation neutrality, now and in the future, we will reduce the impact of climate change, avoid conflict over natural resources and help communities to thrive.

Promoting, Protecting and Realising the Rights of Children: A Matter of Political Will

Promoting, Protecting and Realising the Rights of Children: A Matter of Political Will

Every child has the same human rights as adults. These include the right to life, food, health, education, development, a clean environment and the right to be heard. However, despite recent advances, many children today still suffer from poverty, gender inequality, homelessness, abuse, preventable diseases, and unequal access to education. Their rights are forgotten or ignored. Approximately 300 million children go to bed hungry every night. Environmental degradation and conflicts are forcing children to flee their familiar surroundings and live as refugees. Others are forced into exploitative work and cannot exercise their right to education, robbing them of the chance to create a better future.

Good laws and policies – and their effective implementation – are the foundation for protecting the rights of girls and boys that were enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Children in 1989. However, children’s rights are not brought to life through pronouncements; they require resolve from our leaders and most importantly practical implementation on the ground.

It is now up to national governments to show the political will to ramp up actions at home and lead the response against the violation of children’s rights by ensuring such international commitments are adhered to through laws. Civil society must also play its part to ensure that ignorance and inaction are no longer an option! Instead of asking why things need to change, we have to finally start focusing on the how and highlight solutions that work!

The good news is solutions exist

This year, the World Future Council is celebrating the best laws and policies to secure children’s rights, with its ‘Future Policy Award’, to raise global awareness of those solutions that successfully overcome the barriers preventing children from enjoying their rights to a clean and healthy environment, to education, to protection (from child labour, child trafficking, child marriage) and to participation. Only by highlighting these solutions can we speed up policy action towards just, sustainable and peaceful societies for future generations.

From America, to Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania, we have already seen significant changes in policies and attitudes towards children and their rights that provide hope for the future. We are in a unique position to learn from pioneers who have shown us how it can be done. Now it is up to us to replicate and build on their success stories. Fortunately, we do not have to start from scratch.

In Zanzibar, the “Children’s Act” which won this year’s Future Policy ‘Gold Award’has proven to be an effective response to child abuse and violence, while promoting and protecting child rights at the same time. The law has led to a marked societal change in attitudes towards children in the country. Alongside a revamped child protection system, many schools are now piloting alternatives to the previously widespread use of corporal punishment and thousands of children have been assisted in returning to school from harmful work. A pioneering feature of the law was a village-level child consultation process which provided young people with an understanding of the law and their rights, giving them the opportunity to voice their priorities and feed into the law’s drafting process. Their views are now represented by over 200 active Children’s Councils.


The state of Maryland in the US was the first to require students to be environmentally literate as a high school graduation requirement. The results point to positive school-wide impacts in knowledge, behaviour and local action projects as well as broad improvements in student’s learning outcomes across a range of subjects. Other states, such as Kentucky and Utah have since developed education plans based on Maryland’s “Environmental Literacy Standards”.

Finland’s ‘Basic Education Act’, adopted in 1998, guarantees children’s equal access to high-quality education and training, irrespective of ethnic origin, age, wealth, language or location. Finland’s holistic and trust based education system produces excellent results, both in terms of child well-being and international test scores.

In Sweden, the Children and Parent Code prohibits all corporal punishment and other humiliating treatment of children. It has fostered a profound change of attitude across Swedish society in relation to violence against children, gaining a very high level of awareness and support, including from children. Sweden is also working with other states to promote universal prohibition of all violent punishment of children.

Finally, Argentina’s Supreme Court’s Judgement which upheld the country’s constitutional right ‘to an environment which is healthy, balanced and suitable for human development’ led to a comprehensive inspection, restoration and clean-up plan for the heavily polluted Matanza-Riachuelo river basin in Buenos Aires. These efforts have provided clean drinking water and sanitation to over a million people and are directly benefitting local children through access to health care and relocated housing. It demonstrates what can be achieved when judges start recognizing and enforcing environmental rights which are included (but not enforced) in three quarters of the world’s national constitutions.

Inaction no longer an option

By looking at these examples, we can lay out the policy incentives required to build a world of growing solutions, rather than growing problems. It is essential that we highlight these best policies, engage our communities to spread the word about them and empower policy-makers to implement them. Action requires more than intent and good will: The time has come for world leaders to step up to the challenge and leverage their powers on behalf of the youngest members of our societies.

Giving these policies the recognition they deserve by awarding them with the Future Policy Award is only the beginning. We need to raise more global awareness of these pioneering examples and assist policy-makers to develop and implement similar initiatives. The time to act is now!


Originally published on


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