Land degradation continues to be an enormous challenge to human societies, reducing food security, emitting greenhouse gases and aerosols, driving the loss of biodiversity, polluting water, and undermining a wide range of ecosystem services beyond food supply and water and climate regulation. Climate change will exacerbate several degradation processes. Investment in diverse restoration efforts, including sustainable agricultural and forest land management, as well as land set aside for conservation wherever possible, will generate co-benefits for climate change mitigation and adaptation and more broadly for human and societal well-being and the economy. This review highlights the magnitude of the degradation problem and some of the key challenges for ecological restoration. There are biophysical as well as societal limits to restoration. Better integrating policies to jointly address poverty, land degradation, and greenhouse gas emissions and removals is fundamental to reducing many existing barriers and contributing to climate-resilient sustainable development.