UN Environment, IPBES Reports Assess Land Degradation and Use
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) gave an update on its land degradation and restoration assessment.

UN Environment’s International Resource Panel (IRP) presented its report titled, ‘Unlocking the Sustainable Potential of Land Resources: Evaluation Systems, Strategies and Tools’ and accompanying ‘Summary for Policymakers’.

12 September 2017: During the first week of the thirteen session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) gave an update on its land degradation and restoration assessment. In addition, UN Environment’s International Resource Panel (IRP) launched a report seeking to answer how future demand for food, fuel and fiber can be sustainably met without further depleting finite land resources.

During a presentation to the UNCCD Committee on Science and Technology (CST), two IPBES co-chairs, Bob Scholes and Luca Montanarella, briefed delegates on progress towards the IPBES global assessment on global land degradation and restoration. The assessment is due to be launched at the 6th IPBES Plenary session in March 2018. They reported that inputs were collected from more than 100 international experts over a three-year period, with the objective of providing a global analysis of the effects of land degradation on the quality of life, as well as what drives land degradation, its impacts, responses and the best methods to tackle its causes.

The assessment will support countries by examining the implications of land degradation and restoration in order to achieve global commitments.

Anne Larigauderie, IPBES Executive Secretary, explained that the assessment will support countries by examining the implications of land degradation and restoration in order to achieve global commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the target on LDN, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Welcoming the progress made, UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut looked forward to adding to the “engaging and dynamic evidence base that clearly links the health and productivity of land to overarching human security, so that we can all make better decisions.”

In another research endeavor, UN Environment’s International Resource Panel (IRP) presented its report titled, ‘Unlocking the Sustainable Potential of Land Resources: Evaluation Systems, Strategies and Tools’ and accompanying ‘Summary for Policymakers’. The report explores how different land stakeholders can make use of existing land evaluations to, inter alia: decouple increased agricultural production from additional land use change and land degradation, while adapting to climate change; minimize the social economic and environmental risks of land use change; and promote innovation and knowledge sharing.

The report notes that detailed, high quality land evaluations based on the Food and Agriculture of the UN (FAO)’s Global Agro-Ecological Zones and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Land Capability Classification system have been completed for many areas and “can be rescued from the cabinets” for combining with other soil information sources at global, national and local scales. It also highlights the increasing availability of point-scale evaluations on the ground supported through mobile apps such as ISRIC’s SoiGrids and the Land-Potential Evaluation system (LandPKS).

Several other scientific outputs and initiatives were showcased at the CST, diverse COP 13 side events, the Rio Conventions Pavilion and the first-ever ‘Technology for Sustainable Land Management Fair.’ The Tech Fair aims to demonstrate a variety of innovative and appropriate technologies, serving as a meeting place to facilitate exchanges among land users, policy makers, research institutions and the private sector. As part of the fair, the UNCCD Knowledge Hub has convened daily training and peer learning sessions on a variety of topics, including on data management in the LDN target-setting process. [UNCCD COP 13 Side Events] [IPBES Primer on Assessment of Land Degradation and Restoration] [IISD RS Coverage of the UNCCD COP 13] [Unlocking the Sustainable Potential of Land Resources: Evaluation Systems, Strategies and Tools]


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