Halting land degradation, holistically

For the next 10 days IUCN experts will be supporting decision makers from 195 countries as they discuss solutions to the issues of desertification, land degradation and drought which are plaguing many areas of the world.

Amboseli National Park, Kenya

The venue is the 12th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) taking place 12-23 October in Ankara, Turkey.

Desertification, land degradation and drought are among the most serious environmental and developmental threats the world faces today. They threaten global food and water security and contribute to biodiversity loss and climate change.

The inclusion of Land Degradation Neutrality in the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals reflects the growing consensus over this critical issue. Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) is a target that responds to the immediate challenge: How do we sustainably intensify the production of food, fuel and fibre to meet future demand without further degrading our finite land resources.

Globally, almost one third of all land on the planet is considered to be degraded or degrading, affecting 1.5 billion people. Many of these people live in developing countries in which the need to increase agricultural production is greatest. So land degradation lies at the heart of many development challenges, reducing land productivity and contributing to food insecurity, migration, and many other social and economic problems.

Land degradation also has a serious environmental impact. Biodiversity is essential for healthy, functioning ecosystems, and where soil is degraded, biodiversity is invariably lost. Land degradation can lead to wider ecosystem degradation and a breakdown of water and nutrient cycles, contributing to floods and droughts.

IUCN welcomes the prioritisation of land degradation as an emerging global issue and supports the move to adopt LDN target setting by the UNCCD.

IUCN recommends that:

• LDN should be achieved in a way that respects biodiversity and ecosystems.
• Progress towards LDN should be supported by significant efforts to strengthen natural resource governance and tenure security.
• LDN should be treated as complementary to existing multilateral agreements, both contributing to and benefiting from their achievement.
• LDN target setting should be carried out on the basis of evidence in the form of appropriate assessments.

IUCN in partnership with the UNCCD secretariat works towards LDN using nature-based solutions, drawing on a wide range of IUCN tools and approaches. It demonstrates the role of sustainable management of rangelands (including savannah, prairie, steppe, pampas and mountain pastures); forest landscape and watershed restoration; protected areas; Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas, and many other conservation approaches, in achieving a world that is land-degradation neutral.

Work area: 
Protected Areas
World Heritage
South America
East and Southern Africa
West and Central Africa
West Asia
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