Lesson 3: Setting land degradation neutrality (LDN) targets and associated measures

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Lesson 3: Setting LDN targets and associated measures

(source: "Scaling up land degradation neutrality target setting," a publication prepared by the The Global Mechanism of the UNCCD)

Key lesson

Understanding the importance and value of setting a target was pivotal to making land degradation neutrality (LDN) a reality. Most of the pilot countries were able to set preliminary targets endorsed by their governments and to communicate and disseminate them openly and transparently at the national and international levels. Although the established targets are part of a pilot experience and should therefore be considered preliminary rather than definitive, the pilot countries will continue to fine-tune their targets as their capacities increase and their understanding of the process evolves. Different elements and approaches were taken into consideration when deciding on the targets’ level of ambition.

Key takeaways

During the pilot project, most countries also analyzed the financial feasibility of the measures required to meet the proposed targets. Some countries set several targets with different levels of ambition, according to their respective capacities and potential financing opportunities. In the identification of measures to achieve the targets, the selection of “bright spots,” that is, areas that are a focus of positive trends, in addition to the conventional “hot spots,” appears to be beneficial and, if successful, is an innovation from which others can learn. Countries can use “bright spots” as success stories for further learning and dissemination of how to address land degradation and “hot spots” as areas for priority intervention.

Country case studies

Different approaches to setting LDN targets:

  • Senegal took a top-down approach when defining a target for improving five per cent of the land under degradation each year for 15 years, based on an assumption of stable or increasing capacity. Senegal used data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Land Degradation Assessment for Dryland Areas project, which is considered to be a ‘pessimistic’ estimation of the levels of degradation. Therefore, its target of a five per cent improvement per annum for 15 years is considered ambitious and could possibly address the entire area currently under degradation.
  • Turkey did not set a national target because it believed the data provided lacked the necessary resolution. It will work from the bottom up through a gradual process of implementing remedial measures in pilot areas and will build a broader picture of land degradation by applying medium resolution data to other areas, focusing on grasslands and croplands.
  • Bhutan’s LDN champions faced challenging questions at the beginning of this process, such as the level at which to set LDN targets, the resources that are potentially available and whether or not decision-makers could be convinced to make LDN a priority. However, not only were they able to answer these questions, but they also concluded that the target set in expectation of limited resources was in fact limiting options. The target was therefore revised to be more ambitious.  

An innovative approach for prioritizing LDN action:

  • In Senegal, the chosen sites include one ‘conventional hot spot,’ an area that is a focus of negative trends, and also one ‘bright spot’, where the actions of the Natural Resources Management Department of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development appear to have improved the quality and productivity of the land. A third site, which is both a hot spot and a bright spot, has also been included as a focus area. New hot spots in the North-eastern and South-eastern regions may possibly be added to this list during the LDN target setting process.

Learn more about the other LDN target setting lessons:

Lesson 1Lesson 2Lesson 4Lesson 5

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