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Sustainable land management (SLM) became a standard term shortly after the first UN Conference on Environment and Development, UNCED, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Since then, SLM has enhanced its importance and is a topic also in the current Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by the United Nations summit for the post-2015 development agenda held from 25 to 27 September 2015 in New York. Although a great deal has been achieved in SLM globally, much more will have to be done at the technical, social, institutional, political and economic levels to ensure SLM for all renewable natural resources on all land use types around the world.
From a scientific perspective, it is necessary and timely to ask ourselves four key questions:
1. What have we achieved in SLM compared to the ever-growing challenges of soil, water and biological degradation of land systems?
2. Do we sufficiently understand the socio-economics of land degradation to convince governments so that they provide the necessary schemes and incentives for land users to manage their land wisely?
3. Have institutional settings been adequately accustomed to invite land users to recognize and maintain essential ecosystem functions on their land?
4. Are political systems in the different development contexts conducive to sustainable land management and tuned to put an end to land degradation?
In the scientific community, many journals have addressed some of the questions above by publishing numerous papers from a wide array of scientific disciplines. What we need here is a Special Issue of Sustainability providing a synoptic overview of current research in degradation and sustainable land management, including an analysis of major research gaps which remain as open fields for future research. Each contribution will focus on an analysis of peer-reviewed papers of the last 5–20 years with an emphasis on the recent past.
The above-listed four key questions can be used by authors as a guideline for their papers to be submitted latest by 31 January, 2018. This will give the journal sufficient time to peer-review and revise these papers and publish those accepted in 2018, in time for the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) to take note by mid-2019. A notice of interest (tentative title, author(s), abstract of about 100 words), which briefly describes the main topics of the intended contribution, is most welcome. Please send it until 31 August 2017 to the Editorial Office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Prof. Dr. Hans Hurni