SLEM Programme

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The Sustainable Land and Ecosystem Management (SLEM) Programme

The Sustainable land and Ecosystem Management (SLEM) Programme is a joint initiative of the Government of India and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) under the latter’s Country partnership Programme (CPP).

The objective of the SLEM Programmatic Approach is to promote sustainable land management and use of biodiversity as well as maintain the capacity of ecosystems to deliver goods and services while taking into account climate change

The GEF programmatic approach can be defined as a long-term and strategic arrangement of individual yet interlinked projects aimed at achieving large-scale impacts on the global environment. It seeks to achieve these impacts by providing recipient countries, the GEF, and other GEF stakeholders synergies across the Focal Areas of the GEF within the framework of national and regional sustainable development; by catalyzing action and replicating successes and innovations; by maximizing and scaling up global environmental benefits; and by enabling donors and other partners to invest additional and focused funding based on the scope of the program.

SLEM – A Brief Introduction

In the 11th Plan document, the Government of India has placed a high priority on raising agricultural productivity to achieve annual growth of more than 4.1 %. The plan acknowledges that this target cannot be achieved in the face of ongoing shrinking and degradation of the country’s natural resources; it therefore commits to conservation and to harnessing and developing the natural resource base.

The plan further acknowledges that in order to be effective, sustainable land and ecosystem management must contribute directly to poverty reduction at household and community levels, in addition to maintaining land quality and ecosystem integrity.

To contribute to the implementation of the 11th Plan, the Sustainable Land and Ecosystem Management Country Partnership Program (SLEM CPP) was developed. The overall objective of the SLEM partnership is to contribute to poverty alleviation in India by promoting enhanced efficiency of natural resource use, improved land and ecosystem productivity, and reduced vulnerability to extreme weather events, including the effects of climate change. Specifically, the partnership will support:

  1. Prevention and/or control of land degradation by restoration of degraded (agricultural and forested) lands and biomass cover to produce, harvest, and utilize biomass in ways that maximize productivity, as well as by carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable use of natural resources;
  2. Enhancement of local capacity and institution building to strengthen land and ecosystem management;
  3. Facilitation of knowledge dissemination and application of national and international good practices in SLEM within and across states; and,
  4. Replication and scaling up of successful land and ecosystem management practices and technologies to maximize synergies across the UN Conventions on Biological Diversity (CBD), Climate Change (UNFCCC), and Combating Desertification (UNCCD) conventions.

Implementation Arrangements

The Desertification Cell, MoEF is the national executing agency for the SLEM programmatic approach. ICFRE, Dehradun has been designated as the Technical Facilitation organisation for the SLEM programme. All the 7 sub projects have a full fledged Project Management Unit with a Project Manager, Project Director (a senior government officer) and Project Steering Committee (chaired by a senior government officer). However, the responsibility of coordinating the SLEM programmatic approach as a whole and, to ensure SLEM principles are appropriately integrated into our national/ state level policies and programs lies with MoEF.

SLEM NSC was constituted on 31st March 2009 with specific responsibilities and is chaired by additional Secretary, MoEF to ensure effective participation not only from the 7 sub projects but also by the concerned line Ministries of GoI and other institutions working in SLEM sector.

SLEM is a multiagency initiative supported by the World Bank, UNDP, and FAO, and is designed to engage national and state-level agencies. Through a combination of capital investments, policy and regulatory incentives, and public participation, the SLEM CPP aims to provide a critical mass of financial resources and technical knowledge to mainstream integrated and strategic approaches into investments in sustainable land and ecosystem management.

As a leading implementing agency, the World Bank brings to the partnership substantial IDA/IBRD resources under its ongoing lending program for rural and agricultural development in India. The Government of India/ State Government’s contribution to the program is substantial, in the form of co-financing of all program activities. As partnering agencies, UNDP and FAO will contribute with initiatives focusing on capacity building, knowledge dissemination, and promotion of best conservation practices that will be further scaled up through the partnership.

As mentioned above, to generate the maximum benefits from such a multi-sectoral and multi-partner approach, the SLEM CPP has established a dedicated, program-level management and coordination function in the form of a medium-size project (MSP) titled Policy and Institutional Reform for Mainstreaming and Up-scaling Sustainable Land and Ecosystem Management in India. The sharing of lessons learned and emerging results tracked by an M&E mechanism will be an integral part of each component project included in the program, as well as of the program as a whole. The M&E functions will form the basis for the outreach, knowledge base, mainstreaming, and scaling up of successful policy initiatives. If the SLEM partnership meets its objectives, a follow-up grant from the GEF will be requested. Future plans also include expanding the partnership to include other international financial institutions and donor contributions, and eventually leveraging additional donor financing.


  1. ICFRE
  2. Madhya Pradesh
  3. Nagaland
  4. NAIP
  5. Thar
  6. Uttarakhand