New UNCCD report on global land degradation and drought
The second edition of the Global Land Outlook report, GLO2: Land Restoration for Recovery and Resilience, has found that the world’s land area is now 40% degraded, and accelerating. The report states that if the current trend continues, a further 11% of the world’s land surface could be degraded by 2050.
The Global Land Outlook (GLO), the UNCCD flagship publication, underscores land system challenges, showcases transformative policies and practices, and points to cost-effective pathways to scale up sustainable land and water management. GLO2 sets out the rationale, enabling factors, and diverse pathways by which countries and communities can reduce and reverse land degradation.
Land degradation and drought are global challenges that are “intimately linked” to food security, migration and employment, among other factors. $700 billion is spent annually in nature-harming fossil fuel and agricultural subsidies. Such sectors are responsible for most global emissions and thus environmental impacts, global inequalities and climate change. Such subsidies also dwarf the current level of commitment by nations to restore 1 billion degraded hectares by 2030, that will need $US 1.6 trillion across the decade. Additionally, the rises in food prices due to rapid climate and other planetary changes mean that a “crisis footing” is needed to conserve, restore and use land sustainably.
The report reveals positive feedback loops that are possible between changes in societal attitudes (i.e., more responsible corporate and consumer behaviour, strengthened policy, regulation and supply chains, short-term incentives, and long-term planning) and increased levels of capital investment in land and ecosystem restoration. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is galvanizing indigenous peoples and local communities, governments, the private sector, and civil society as part of a global movement to undertake all types of restoration, across all scales, marshalling all possible resources.
A diverse range of regenerative approaches are outlined in GLO2 that can improve food production, water management, climate action, green infrastructure, job creation, and inclusive governance. These pathways can be bundled to suit national and local circumstances, offering the prospect of immediate action resulting in such tangible benefits as food and water security, improved human health and livelihoods, disaster risk reduction, and climate mitigation and adaptation.