World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT)

Land degradation is one of the world’s most pressing environmental problems, affecting everyone through food insecurity, higher food prices, climate change, environmental hazards, and the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Without effective knowledge management and decision support tools, land resource management will remain ineffective, all too often overlooking or only selectively applying valuable knowledge gained over the years in various regions all over the world. 

In order to address this gap, WOCAT – the global network on Sustainable Land Management (SLM) – promotes the documentation, sharing and use of knowledge to support adaptation, innovation and decision-making in SLM. Pioneer in transformative action for SLM, the network establishes an innovative space for sharing and scaling good practices to address land degradation, climate change, and biodiversity loss.

The mission of WOCAT includes:

  • enhancing land productivity and water use efficiency sustainably contributing to food security
  • supporting climate change adaptation/ mitigation and reducing disaster risks
  • promoting conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity
Field day during a WOCAT training in Benin
Field day during a WOCAT training in Benin. Photo: Siagbé Golli

Activities and knowledge products

WOCAT facilitates local, national, regional and global knowledge sharing and analysis on which good practices work where, how and why, and what their costs and benefits are. The main WOCAT services include:

  • a global network of SLM specialists, forming partnerships, and maximizing synergies
  • a standardised way to document SLM knowledge and host of a user-friendly database
  • tools to assess SLM solutions and promote their wide adoption and spread
  • training and capacity building in SLM
  • dissemination of targeted information via different channels ensuring strong knowledge flow related to SLM
  • decision support for mainstreaming and scaling out SLM (searching and selecting SLM options)
  • spatial assessment of land degradation and SLM in the context of Land Degradation Neutrality

The global SLM database contains over 2000 SLM good practices from all over the world and is linked to WOCAT modules as well as external platforms, tools, and applications. It serves as a basis for various knowledge products – for instance good practice compilations, scientific papers, policy briefs, books, factsheets, Videos – which are produced together with different partners.

These knowledge products help people involved in SLM to identify suitable SLM technologies and approaches, determine priority areas for interventions and make informed decisions at the local/ landscape/ watershed, (sub-)national and global level.

Discussions during WOCAT training in Cambodia
Discussions during WOCAT training in Cambodia. Photo: Royal University of Agriculture Cambodia

Setup of the WOCAT network and UNCCD recognition

WOCAT was founded in 1992 as an informal global network of soil and water conservation specialists. Over the years, WOCAT expanded its focus in several ways. It went beyond data collection to conduct evaluation, monitoring, training, and research on SLM. In 2014, the WOCAT network was reorganized into a more formalized international network. 

Due to its long-term presence and wealth of knowledge, WOCAT’s database has been officially recognized by the UNCCD as the primary recommended Global Database for SLM best practices in 2014. The UNCCD recognition gives WOCAT the mandate to support the 196 signatory countries in recording their SLM best practices and using the SLM knowledge of stakeholders worldwide – from land users to decision-makers – to improve local land management. This WOCAT-UNCCD partnership was renewed in 2020. Today WOCAT and UNCCD are working together on various SLM and related topics such as improving gender-responsiveness of SLM practices. Furthermore, WOCAT is supporting partner of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.


WOCAT was established in 1992 under the joint management of Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), FAO, and World Soil Information (ISRIC). Today WOCAT’s work is formalized by a Framework Agreement among seven consortium partners (see info box). The WOCAT secretariat is hosted by CDE and together with ISRIC and ICARDA, CDE is building the WOCAT executive team that is responsible for all global operations.


New IFAD-WOCAT publication on supporting extension services to scale up SLM

IFAD and WOCAT jointly prepared the publication "Supporting Extension Services to Scale Up Sustainable Land Management: The potential of WOCAT’s tools and methods". Based on 119 SLM practices in Cambodia, Laos and Uganda, this publication shows smallholders prioritized SLM solutions that directly benefited them: the participatory farmer-centred approach is a powerful means of uncovering those practices that improved well-being, whether in terms of food or income.

Newsletter: December edition

We are looking back on a busy but incredibly fruitful and exciting 2022! We are delighted to share with you the latest updates from the WOCAT network as we continue our mission to support adaptation, innovation, and decision-making in Sustainable Land Management (SLM).




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