IPBES Authors Present Drivers, Solutions to Land Degradation
Photo courtesy of Graciela Metternicht
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The paper highlights the links between land degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss, and notes that land degradation is both avoidable and often reversible.

It outlines five reasons for the systemic failure to protect lands.

The paper then presents 10 solutions to overcoming these five drivers of land degradation, especially given the context of the upcoming UN Decade on Land Restoration.

In the paper titled, ‘How to Halt the Global Decline of Lands,’ the lead authors of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) ‘Assessment of Land Degradation and Restoration’ present five systemic policy barriers to land restoration and propose 10 solutions for overcoming them.

The paper published in Nature Sustainability (10 February 2020) notes that “Land degradation has negatively affected the living conditions of at least two-fifths of the people on Earth and it is estimated to be reducing global economic output by a tenth.” It also highlights the links between land degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss, and notes that land degradation is both avoidable and often reversible.

Land degradation is estimated to be reducing global economic output by a tenth.

The paper outlines five reasons for the systemic failure to protect lands. It highlights a lack of urgency in addressing land degradation, especially by those benefiting from its exploitation. Secondly, it notes that there is “little agreement on standardized ways of measuring land degradation,” and thirdly, notes that policymakers and consumers are often disconnected by space and time from the impacts on land of their decision making on land resources. Fourth, the paper underscores the multiplicity of forces affecting land health as well as the difficulty of teasing them apart. These include, inter alia, natural, cultural, demographic, economic, educational, technological and political forces. And finally, the paper calls out the impacts of limited institutional capacity and motivation to take action to address land degradation.

The publication then presents 10 solutions to overcoming these five drivers of land degradation, especially given the context of the upcoming UN Decade on Land Restoration, set to commence in 2021. Solutions include:

  1. Recognizing that the benefits generated by healthy and productive land are a global good;
  2. Setting clear, quantifiable, legally binding and ambitious targets;
  3. Regularly collecting and evaluating information on the state of the land;
  4. Promoting local action to tackle land degradation based on local contexts and needs;
  5. Building on all pertinent knowledge sources, and not exclusively on conventional science;
  6. Taking into account all the substantive costs and benefits when making decisions that impact land;
  7. Reducing human demands for services delivered by land to match the capacity of the land to supply those services sustainably;
  8. Encouraging responsible trade and consumption;
  9. Strengthening judicial institutions for environmental action by citizens; and
  10. Providing a foundation for more sustainable relationships between people and land.

The publication calls on public and private sector decision makers, scientists and citizens to each play their role in protecting and restoring land. [UNCCD Press Release] [UNCCD Library] [Publication: How to Halt the Global Decline of Lands]

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