Land resources

CDE works on behalf of sustainable use and management of land and land resources such as soils, water, and biodiversity. Considering the many dimensions of sustainable development of people and nature, CDE examines in an integrative manner:

  • the causes and effects of land use changes;
  • the interests and values that different actors attach to land resources and how this shapes land use; as well as
  • effective technologies and sociopolitical levers for improving the sustainability of land use systems that are under pressure from land deals, industrial agriculture, global warming, and more.

Soil and water

Soil quality and water supplies worldwide are under increasing pressure from intensifying use. Aiming to conserve and improve these resources, CDE investigates relevant influencing factors and creates tools and models for sustainable use of soils and water.

Land management

Land resources and the ecosystem services they provide are threatened by climate change, desertification, overuse, and increasingly competitive market demand. Using various methods and techniques, CDE provides knowledge-based decision support for large-scale implementation of sustainable land management.

Land use change

Changes in land use often contribute to global warming, loss of biodiversity, and ecological transitions. CDE develops methods to assess changes in land use at various levels. It examines the links between decision-making, changes in use, and their consequences for ecosystems and human well-being.

Land rights and investments

Access to land is crucial to people’s food security, livelihoods, well-being, and cultural identity. But land is becoming ever scarcer. International land deals are one reason. CDE is working to make access to land fairer and more secure for affected populations, among other things by developing transparent information systems.

Agriculture and food systems

How we organize our food systems has enormous implications for the environment and human health. It also influences the social, economic, and cultural life of whole societies. Through its research, CDE supports transformation towards comprehensive sustainability of agriculture and food systems.

Ecosystems and biodiversity

Functioning ecosystems and preservation of biodiversity are essential. CDE works on behalf of rich, intact habitats that also ensure human well-being. It examines people’s diverse claims on ecosystem services and looks for solutions that unite protection of nature and people’s needs for a sustainable future.


Access to clean, affordable energy is key to development. But there are many challenges: Industrialized countries must end their dependence on fossil fuels, among other things. In the global South, however, many people still rely on biomass for energy. In various regions, CDE investigates biomass energy potentials, related demands, and climate impacts.