• desertification;
  • Environmental Policy Integration;
  • multi-level governance;
  • Mediterranean Europe


Successfully combating desertification has proven to be a demanding endeavour. Fifteen years since the UNCCD was signed, its implementation record remains poor worldwide and in Mediterranean Europe. Desertification is a complex socio-environmental problem, which requires long-term efforts towards integrating environmental concerns in sectoral and development policies, coordination among sectors, policies, agencies and programmes as well as efficient and effective multilevel collaboration arrangements. It is not accidental that Environmental Policy Integration (EPI) and multi-level governance (MLG) are central notions in the UNCCD neither that it's poor implementation record may partly be due to the difficulties of responding to these challenges. This study explores the role of EPI in combating desertification in MLG contexts. First, it briefly negotiates desertification and the UNCCD emphasizing the EPI and MLG provisions. After presenting the conceptual and methodological framework employed, it offers a broad-brush assessment of the integration of desertification concerns into development policies at the international, EU and Mediterranean member state level and the role of governance and MLG. It concludes that the state of integrating desertification concerns in development policies at all levels is poor and the current mode of governance and MLG are far from the UNCCD ideal of ‘good governance’. The low political priority of desertification, several context-specific factors, the general and sectoral mode of governance and the complexities of contemporary MLG contexts explain this poor integration. Future research directions are suggested to advance the state of knowledge on promoting EPI in MLG contexts and provide policy support for combating desertification. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.