27 September 2018
“Transformative” LDN Project Shows Early Signs of Success in Brazil
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
story highlights

The Recovery Units of Degraded Areas and Reduction of Climate Vulnerability initiative was established in 2016 with the objective of financing actions to address the main drivers of land degradation in the Caatinga biome.

Early results are attributed to the project’s innovative approach, which simultaneously targets environmental, social and economic challenges associated with land degradation.

14 September 2018: A blog published on the website of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) discusses early results of a project to reverse degradation in the dryland region of north-eastern Brazil that is implemented under the framework of actions to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN) by 2030, one of the targets under SDG 15 (life on land).

The Recovery Units of Degraded Areas and Reduction of Climate Vulnerability (URAD) initiative was established in 2016 with the objective of financing actions to address the main drivers of land degradation in the Caatinga biome. With a minimum mandate of ten years, backed by a commitment of US$100 million dollars mobilized from domestic environmental fines, the project was tasked with reversing negative trends associated with land degradation. To kick-start the first two years of implementation, an additional USD$1 million was provided by Brazil’s Climate Fund, and US$9 million came from the international community.

While it is too early to measure the targeted long-term transformational change, the article points out that what has been achieved so far at the municipal level is contributing to “noticeable attitude and behavior changes in the population.” For example, community-level interventions were initially expected to take nine months but, according to the project, “all initiatives in progress have taken just four months to complete.” This is attributed to the project’s innovative approach, which simultaneously targets environmental, social and economic challenges associated with land degradation.

Communities that were initially suspicious of government projects “are starting to regain the value and respect they had in their environment.”

Examples of social initiatives that promote all three sustainable development pillars include the use of fuel-efficient stoves to reduce wood consumption and improving sanitation to reduce water and soil pollution. Economic activities promoted by the project include beekeeping and integrated crop-livestock-forest systems. However, the blog notes that this last category is the most challenging because to succeed such interventions “must match the economic potentials of the community, the land and the capacity of the rural producers.”

Citing Valdemar Rodrigues, Director of Sustainable Rural Development of Brazil’s Ministry of Environment, the article adds that while local populations were suspicious of government projects in the past, the results obtained from the implementation of URAD have not only changed this view, but “communities are starting to regain the value and respect they had in their environment.”

The URAD project is an example of transformative projects promoted by the UNCCD with the aim of contributing to the LDN target. So far, 118 out of the 196 signatories to the Convention have embarked on voluntary national LDN target-setting processes, with some countries proceeding to develop and implement a first set of LDN projects. [UNCCD Blog]

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