History

The pilot-phase 2007–2010

The Land Restoration Training Programme was founded in 2007 through an agreement between the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA), the Agricultural University of Iceland (AUI) and the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland (SCSI), as a part of the government’s development cooperation efforts. The Programme was evaluated thoroughly by an external evaluator during the pilot phase. The positive evaluation result was one of the important milestones in becoming the United Nations University Land Restoration Training Programme (UNU-LRT).

During the pilot phase, the six-month training programme, the backbone of our activities, was developed and established. Altogether 17 fellows completed a training at the Programme in Iceland in the pilot years, from Egypt (1), Ethiopia (1), Ghana (1), Mongolia (3), Namibia (3), Tunisia (1), Uganda (6) and Uzbekistan (1).

UNU Land Restoration Training Programme (UNU-LRT) from 2010 through 2019

The United Nations University Land Restoration Training Programme (UNU-LRT) was established in February 2010 through an agreement of cooperation between the United Nations University (UNU), the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA), the Agricultural University of Iceland (AUI) and the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland (SCSI) The Programme ran as a UNU training programme from 2010 through 2019. During this period, 122 fellows graduated from the six-month training programme held annually in Iceland. The graduating fellows came from Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho, Namibia, Niger, Malawi and Uganda in sub-Saharan Africa, and Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in Central-Asia. Throughout those years the six-month training programme was further advanced and short courses were developed and delivered in cooperation with our partner institutions in Mongolia and Uganda. Altogether 124 specialists attended the Programme’s short courses in those countries. Granting of scholarships to former fellows for Master and PhD studies was also initiated and one scholarship recipient finished an MSc degree at the Agricultural University of Iceland.

After a long and successful collaboration with the UNU, the Land Restoration Training Programme joined hands with the other three UNU training programmes in Iceland, on Fisheries, Gender Equality and Geothermal Energy, to form GRÓ: the International Centre for Capacity Development - Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Societal Change, a UNESCO Category 2 Centre.

GRÓ Land Restoration Training Programme (GRÓ-LRT) since 2020

On 1 January 2020 the Programme became a part of the GRÓ Centre, the International Centre for Capacity Development – Sustainable use of Natural Resources and Societal Change, which is a UNESCO Category 2 Centre in Iceland. LRT is mainly funded by the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs as a part of the government’s development cooperation efforts. LRT continues to run the training and scholarship programmes in collaboration with the respective host institutions: the Agricultural University of Iceland and the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland.

LRT is built on the knowledge and expertise gained within Iceland, which faced severe land degradation problems in the beginning of the 20th century. Nationally concerted efforts for over 100 years, aimed at halting soil erosion and restoring lost and degraded woodlands, has created a considerable body of knowledge and experience which is of great relevance to a number of countries in all parts of the world.