Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

In 2014 the ELD Initiative successfully launched its first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) with more than 1500 registered participants. A subsequent and equally successful course was offered in 2015.

The MOOCs are web-based intensive courses with flexible participation, video lectures and offline reading material.

While all information and materials of the courses are still openly accessible and free of charge, it is not possible anymore to hand in assignments or receive certificates.


  • There are no participant prerequisites for this type of online course beyond interest in the topic
  • MOOCs are entirely free of charge, and open to any interested party
  • Participants can be located anywhere, work in any sector, and have any background

MOOC 1 - The Economics of Land Degradation – Assessing the socio-economic benefits of land ecosystems


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The first ELD MOOC brought together decision-makers, managers, supervisors, seniors as well as education and research professionals from international organizations, governments, private sector and NGOs etc. The course demonstrates how to assess the economic benefits of land as a first step towards preventing degradation. It introduces methods of economic analysis and valuation to help manage land sustainably and efficiently. Course participants learn problem-solving using economics approaches and methods.


Module 1: What is the value of your land?

Module 2: Which services does your ecosystem provide?

Module 3: Who benefits? Who pays?

Module 4: Economic tools for valuation

Module 5: Your new scenario

Module 6: A research plan

Module 7: Carry out the research

Module 8: Continue your research

Module 9: Your Choice

Module 10: Finalizing your project

After finishing the course, participants are able to: 

  • Explain why economic analysis can be a useful tool for decision-makers
  • Describe the steps behind each valuation method, underlying assumptions and methodological and empirical limitations
  • Identify a suitable method for valuation of a non-marketed good or service
  • Critically assess the choice of valuation method, its application and results for an existing valuation study
  • Run simple cost-benefit-analyses
  • Develop simple research designs for economic assessments

Recordings of the course webinars are still openly accessible!


MOOC 2 - Options and pathways for action: Stakeholder Engagement


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In continuing to support the ELD Initiative capacity-building endeavours, a second ELD MOOC 'Options and pathways for action: Stakeholder Engagement' was offered by the Initiative in 2015. Building off the 2014 ELD MOOC, which focused on performing cost-benefit analyses to promote sustainable land management, the 2015 ELD MOOC addressed the importance of working with relevant stakeholders to implement sustainable land management choices effectively and sustainably. The course introduced approaches to identify options and pathways for action, methods to identify stakeholders, and how to establish a basis for initiating engagement and discussion. 


Module 1: Stakeholder engagement and the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative

Module 2: Options and pathways for action and stakeholder engagement

Module 3: Basics of stakeholder analysis

Module 4: Setting up effective communication

Module 5: Stakeholder engagement plan

Module 6: Conditions and skills required for ‘successful‘ stakeholder engagement

Module 7: Measures of stakeholder engagement success

Upon completion of this course, participants are able to: 

  • Describe examples of possible options and pathways for the adoption of sustainable land management;
  • Clarify the objectives of stakeholder engagement;
  • Identify the main stakeholders involved in land management;
  • Undertake a stakeholder analysis;
  • Identify most appropriate stakeholder engagement instruments in specific cases;
  • Prepare material for engagement and discussion with stakeholders;
  • Critically assess conditions and skills required for successful stakeholder engagement, and
  • Develop a stakeholder engagement plan

The live recordings are still openly accessible to any interested party!