Lesson 5: Leveraging land degradation neutrality (LDN)
(source: "Scaling up land degradation neutrality target setting," a publication prepared by the The Global Mechanism of the UNCCD)
The target setting exercise and the identification of measures provided a clear snapshot of the substantive opportunities the land degradation neutrality (LDN) target setting process brings, even though LDN implementation was beyond the scope of the pilot project. Some pilot countries identified legal instruments that will enable LDN targets to be achieved. Some went further and, as an outcome of the pilot project, have established legal mandates for the implementation of LDN. Other countries focused on tapping into the growing financing opportunities that consolidation of this process will bring and pre-identified potential financial sources for each of the established measures, including detailed budgets and lists of potential partners.
Setting a target, based on a judicious assessment of the financial feasibility and screening of the potential sources of finance, proved critical for delivering ambitious but realistic targets. Most countries went beyond identifying the measures to achieve the target. They developed detailed budgets and cost estimates for the required measures as well as projections of the measures to be covered by the national budget and those to be financed from other sources. Countries also used this exercise to decide on the level of ambition for the targets based on the financing opportunities they envisioned as a result of the LDN target setting leverage efforts.
As a result of the identification of land degradation processes and 'hot spots,' most pilot countries now have a set of potential and priority sites/ areas/ideas on which to build LDN transformative projects in order to upscale sustainable land management and restoration activities.
Country case studies
From pilot to transformative policies:
- In Indonesia, the LDN working group's efforts to showcase the benefits of achieving LDN and the economic impacts of inaction contributed significantly to the Government's decision to ban further land concessions for oil palm cultivation.
- In Ethiopia, there is a groundswell of opinion in support of LDN. The Government has recently committed to reforest 22,000 square kilometers by 2020 and has made LDN a priority.
- In Belarus, LDN is a government priority: the national action programme (NAP) is an integral part of the National Strategy of Sustainable Social and Economic Development and must be referenced by public agencies when designing national, sectoral and regional programmes.
- In Turkey, the Ministry of Forestry is committed to scaling up analysis and rolling-out corrective measures.
- The Republic of Armenia has an approved NAP and the Government is fully committed to implementing it. Resources from the national budget and the private sector (based on the polluter pays principle) are to be allocated to some NAP implementation activities.
Transformative investments for LDN, using dedicated funds and mobilizing the private sector:
- In Senegal, a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of the NAP highlighted in order to support up scaling LDN through sustainable land management, two funds are critical. The National Agricultural and Food Research Fund is an innovative public financing mechanism that funds agricultural research. The Agro-Silvo-Pastoral National Development Fund aims to mobilize public and private funds to finance agro-silvo-pastoral development. These funds could be used to finance LDN transformative projects on the ground.
Tapping into financing opportunities for LDN and sustainable development:
- Bhutan conducted a very thorough exercise to ensure that synergies and coherence with existing national initiatives were tapped into as part of the LDN target setting process. For example, the five LDN “hot spots” identified were part of a sustainable land management project under the Global Environmental Facility and the Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation that existed at the time of the pilot project. The sources of funding were already identified in the 2014 NAP, which also incorporates the five-year plan for 2013-2018. The country LDN team researched further into these financing mechanisms and presented them to the National Working Group. Payments for Environmental Services (PES) were identified as promising schemes. Three such schemes are already being implemented in Bhutan for drinking water supply. Another area with PES potential is the compensation of farmers for crop damage caused by wildlife. This could entail creating a national level fund supported by external sources, such as International Union for Conservation of Nature and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Enabling the environment for achieving the LDN target:
- In April 2015, the Government of Belarus approved the Strategy for the Implementation of the UNCCD and the 2016-2020 NAP for the Prevention of Land (and Soil) Degradation. According to the Strategy and NAP, one of the top priorities in preventing land degradation is the achievement of LDN, for which Belarus has established a national voluntary target. This decision makes the inclusion of LDN mandatory for all state and field plans at the five-year planning level, including for commercial enterprises (the Government is the major enterprise owner in Belarus). LDN indicators are included in the decision. This demonstrates that the project approach has been fully endorsed by the Government. The greatest success factor was the timing of the project (while the Strategy for the Implementation of the UNCCD was being prepared) and the opportunities this timing offered.
- At the time of the writing its country report, Costa Rica was in the process of issuing a Joint Ministerial Directive and regulation for LDN implementation in the field by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment, Energy, Ocean and Land Management. The Directive gives the Ministries the mandate to articulate and integrate programmes and budgets for LDN implementation. This constitutes a strategy for Costa Rica to implement the National Action Programme in order to comply with the preliminary targets for LDN as proposed in the country report.
Learn more about the other LDN target setting lessons: