Sustainable land management (SLM) is proposed as a unifying theme for current global efforts on combating desertification, climate change and loss of biodiversity in drylands. A focus on SLM will achieve the multiple goals of the three UN Conventions (UNCCD, UNFCCC and UNCBD) and in particular will address the roots causes of poverty and vulnerability to climate change rather than a current focus on adapting to climate change. The interlinkages between land degradation, climate change and loss of biodiversity are outlined together with a proposed set of interventions to achieve multiple goals. It is argued that improved land productivity is a viable goal to reduce poverty in drylands provided it is linked to payments for environmental services and better crop and weather insurances and coupled with alternative livelihoods that are not primarily dependent on land productivity. Obstacles to the achievement of SLM are discussed and the steps necessary to overcome them are presented. It is suggested that promoting SLM would be a better focus for the UNCCD than combating desertification.

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