With the potential to stimulate sustained economic growth and long-term social welfare, land is at the heart of some of today's most pressing global development challenges.
Across many parts of the globe, however, degradation processes are severely undermining land's rich potential, because land degradation has long been a peripheral environmental concern. Marginalized in political decision-making and budgetary allocation processes, notwithstanding the volume of large-scale land acquisitions, investments in sustainable land management (SLM) are still limited and are, therefore, urgently needed to safeguard this precious natural resource.
Why invest in sustainable land management?
The UNCCD and the Global Mechanism (GM) believe that healthy, productive land is a key component of the planet's natural capital: productive soil, fresh water, forests, clean air, animal life and other renewable resources underpin the survival and prosperity of human communities.
Land is central to achieving macro-economic growth. In particular, land resources are integral to increasing agricultural productivity, improving access to markets for small-scale farmers and supporting broad efforts to secure long-term food security and national food sovereignty. SLM is vital in determining the quantity, quality and sustainability of agricultural production, a crucial factor in ensuring that trade in agriculture is both sustainable and profitable. Moreover, SLM is paramount in strengthening the capacity of the agricultural sector to feed the population, by supporting rural producers to generate sustainable incomes and enhancing a stable and quality supply that meets market demands.
Nurturing land, an imperative to meet global challenges, includes adaptating to and mitigating climate change and conserving biodiversity. SLM is also central in responding to emerging geo-political concerns, such as environmental migration, which is driven by degradation and resource scarcity.
Moreover, investments in land make sense from an economic perspective. There are an increasing number of economic valuations of land currently being carried out globally that highlight this very point. The GM is leading a consortium of partners in a global initiative, entitled the Economic Valuation of Land, to help countries generate evidence to support policies and investments into SLM. One recent study commissioned by the GM under this initiative indicated that countries in Central Africa could save as much as USD 5 billion every year by restoring the productivity of their degraded lands and forests. This groundwork at the country-level is greatly informing the global initiative entitled 'The Economics of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought'.
Despite the clear benefits, recent statistics show that there is a significant financing gap between current investments in land and public expenditure. Rising to the challenge of increasing investments in land requires a broad commitment to swift action by government institutions, the private sector, civil society and international organizations. Together we must strive to position land at the core of countries' political priorities, thereby unleashing its value in securing the well-being and prosperity of future generations.
Methodology for Assessing Costs of Degradation and Benefits of Sustainable Land Management (658.91 kB)
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