Experts Propose Shortlist of Global Land and Soil Indicators to Support SDGs
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An international expert workshop convened by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) to develop a set of indicators to contribute to the Global Land Indicators Initiative (GLII) and the post-2015 development agenda has proposed a "shortlist" of three land and soil management indicators.

The indicators aim to support the achievement of multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

iass_global_soil_forumMarch 2015: An international expert workshop convened by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) to develop a set of indicators to contribute to the Global Land Indicators Initiative (GLII) and the post-2015 development agenda has proposed a “shortlist” of three land and soil management indicators. The indicators aim to support the achievement of multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The workshop’s outcome document, titled ‘Proposal for land and soil indicators to monitor the achievement of the SDGs,’ identifies three “tiered” global indicators – land cover/land use change, land productivity change and soil organic carbon change – all of which can be further enriched at the national and sub‐national level.

The proposal asserts that land and soil resources underpin key services, such as the production of food, feed, fiber and fuel, the sequestration of carbon, nutrient cycling, protection of biodiversity, and water regulation. The proposal supports targets on land and soil quality and land degradation neutrality, as proposed by the Open Working Group on the SDGs. It also highlights the links between good governance of land and soil resources, and the proposed SDG on peaceful and inclusive societies.

Noting that the workshop built on ongoing efforts by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Secretariat to explore common land indicators across the Rio Conventions, the experts’ document describes their three shortlisted indicators as “measurable and essential in capturing a minimum of land characteristics that are globally comparable,” and calls for their inclusion in the list of proposed SDG indicators being developed by the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC).

With regard to next steps, the proposal calls for using readily available global data sources to measure the three indicators in order to limit data collection efforts at the national level, “while placing greater emphasis on data quality improvement and interpretation.” The experts note that while the proposed shortlist has been “substantially discussed within global relevant fora (principally the UNCCD)” and there is currently “no international consensus on an alternative proposal,” there are concerns about the ability of these indicators “to properly grasp” the complexity of land and soil degradation. The proposal recommends continuous monitoring and validation of the indicators “within the context of broader monitoring and accountability strategies,” to ensure their relevance, especially at the national and sub-national levels.

The workshop convened on 5-6 February 2015, in Copenhagen, Denmark, and brought together experts from diverse international and national research and policy institutions. [IISD RS Sources] [Proposal for land and soil indicators to monitor the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)] [IASS Publications] [GLII Website]

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