Joint UNCCD, Tudor Rose Publication Assesses Progress Towards SDG Target 15.3
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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The publication builds on the premise that a focus on LDN opens up opportunities for countries to strengthen and better integrate a range of policies and frameworks for the sustainable use of land and soils.

By June 2018, 118 out of 196 countries that are party to the Convention had made commitments to set and implement national LDN targets.

14 September 2018: A publication titled, ‘A Better World: Volume 4: Actions and Commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals,’ offers a compendium of articles by staff of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and partner organizations aimed at assessing progress towards SDG 15 (life on land), and particularly target 15.3 on achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN).

The publication builds on the premise that a focus on LDN opens up opportunities for countries to strengthen and better integrate a range of policies and frameworks for the sustainable use of land and soils.

In an introductory chapter setting out the case for a global LDN target, Monique Barbut, UNCCD Executive Secretary, highlights findings from a number of global assessments that reveal the economic, social and environmental impacts of land degradation. She cites, among other data: a 2015 global study by the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD), which finds that the effects of land degradation impact at least 3,2 billion people, or almost half of the global population; the Global Land Outlook (GLO) published by the UNCCD in 2017, which finds that between 2000 and 2012, about 2.3 million square kilometers of forest cover was lost, but only 0.8 million square kilometers was reforested; and the 2017 Thematic Assessment of Land Degradation and Restoration published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which characterizes 75% of global land areas as degraded and projects that over 90% could become degraded by 2050 if “business as usual” (BAU) is maintained.

Efforts to achieve multiple SDG targets must be complemented by measures to manage tradeoffs.

Arguing that the importance of Goal 15 for human survival cannot be overstated, Barbut stresses that efforts to achieve multiple SDG targets on ending poverty and hunger, and sustainably managing forests, fresh water resources, rangelands and biological diversity must be complemented by “measures to manage tradeoffs arising from the fact that the same piece of land can be used for multiple purposes that are not always compatible.”

In a chapter titled, ‘Where Do We Stand on Achieving Land Degradation Neutrality?’ the authors present a scientific framework for managing such trade-offs and monitoring progress towards LDN that was developed by the Science-Policy Interface (SPI) of the UNCCD. They report that by June 2018, 118 out of 196 countries that are party to the Convention had made commitments to set and implement national LDN targets. The chapter explains that countries are moving from the initial target-setting process phase towards developing and implementing UNCCD-initiated “Transformative Projects and Programmes” to achieve these targets. It also presents a reporting and monitoring framework finalized in 2017 that will guide future reviews of the status of the LDN target by the UNCCD Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC) as well as the Conference of the Parties (COP).

Other chapters outline diverse initiatives that aim to contribute towards the LDN target and provide an overview of complementary programmes to harness technical and financial resources in support of these initiatives. They include: intensive watershed management approaches in dryland areas of Africa; sustainable cocoa farming in post-conflict Colombia; diverse forest landscape restoration initiatives in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific; and community-led tourism to strengthen livelihood opportunities. Technical tools and financial mechanisms highlighted include: the use of earth observations to support sustainable agricultural development; the application of land-use scenario planning to assess sustainable ecosystem services at community level; and innovative financing tools for sustainable agriculture and ecosystem restoration projects.

‘A Better World’ is a series of publications developed by the Human Development Forum at Tudor Rose, each dedicated to one or more of the 17 SDGs. Since 1999 Tudor Rose has published 28 books in partnership with the UN and its agencies that cover a diverse range of subjects from disaster reduction, water management and climate science to intercultural dialogue and humanitarian assistance. The books are read extensively by the human development sector and especially by community leaders in vulnerable regions around the globe. [Publication: A Better World. Volume 4. Actions and commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals] [UNCCD News Release]

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