UNCCD’s Global Mechanism Reflects on LDN Target Setting, Recommends Transformative Action
Photo courtesy of Graciela Metternicht
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The UNCCD Global Mechanism report describes support to help over 120 countries identify land degradation drivers and trends, define a land degradation baseline, and establish LDN targets.

The report identifies a need for countries to better connect the ways that LDN targets can contribute to progress across the SDGs.

It recommends developing transformative LDN programmes and projects to help countries transition from setting targets to implementing concrete actions.

7 September 2019: The Global Mechanism (GM) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) released a report on its Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Target Setting Programme, which aims to achieve LDN and contribute to achieving SDG 15 (life on land). The UNCCD launched the report at the 14th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNCCD.

The report titled, ‘Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting: initial findings and lessons learned,’ describes the Programme’s support to help over 120 countries identify land degradation drivers and trends, define a land degradation baseline, and establish LDN targets and measures to assess and achieve voluntary LDN targets. The primary reasons for land degradation are the loss or depletion of forestland and inadequate agriculture practices; consequently, many countries aim to tackle land degradation by halting deforestation, restoring forest land, improving the health and productivity of degraded forests, and improving agricultural practices. Other LDN targets focus on implementing sustainable management of protected areas (PAs) or wetlands, ending illegal mining and controlling urban expansion.

LDN target setting process was the first time many national actors had systematically analyzed the causes and effects of land degradation to inform evidence-based decisions on appropriate and achievable targets.

The report states that the LDN target setting process was the first time many national actors had systematically analyzed the causes and effects of land degradation to inform evidence-based decisions on appropriate and achievable targets. The brief emphasizes that countries’ efforts to identify achievable solutions, priority actions and monitor baselines has helped to shape a “data-driven approach to tackling land degradation.”

The report identifies a need for countries to better connect the ways in which LDN targets can contribute to progress across the SDGs. For example, although land-based solutions could contribute to approximately one-third of the emissions reductions needed to achieve the Paris Agreement on climate change, few countries connected LDN and emissions reductions when setting their targets. Similarly, the report finds that countries expressed interest in expanding food production but did not have access to national data to estimate soil organic carbon stocks or land productivity. The report therefore recommends countries create stronger synergies between LDN efforts and other SDGs.

The report recommends developing transformative LDN programmes and projects to help countries transition from setting LDN targets to implementing concrete actions. The report recommends countries mainstream gender dimensions within LDN efforts and explore opportunities for stronger integration of livelihoods and other co-benefits within LDN strategies and targets. To support this transition, the Global Mechanism has released an operational guide to help countries and their partners develop programmes and projects. The guide, ‘Land Degradation Neutrality Transformative Projects and Programmes: Operational guidance for country support,’ shares ideas for how countries can target a range of funding sources to support LDN programmes and projects, including the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The report also suggests countries pursue innovative financing, such as carbon payments, blended finance or different types of bonds, and ecotourism.

Additional report recommendations focus on, inter alia: continued government leadership for LDN implementation; increased focus on entry points for LDN, such as land use plans and national and local budgets; coordination among institutional and technical environments for implementing LDN target setting; and a strengthened enabling environment, such as by including LDN in the drafting of new bills and upcoming amendments. [UNCCD Press Release] [Publication: Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting] [IISD RS Coverage of UNCCD COP14]


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