Back to search

How does land degradation neutrality contribute to sustainable development?


Land in Balance, a science-policy brief prepared by the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface (SPI)

Scientific Conceptual Framework for Land Degradation Neutrality, report prepared by the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface (SPI)


Land degradation neutrality (LDN) contributes to sustainable development in multiple ways:

  • Managing land degradation can contribute simultaneously to climate change mitigation, adaptation, and the protection of biodiversity.
  • Interventions for LDN (sustainable land management practices and land rehabilitation/restoration/reclamation) enhance soil organic matter levels and often increase biomass, sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.
  • Reducing land clearing is a key component of LDN, contributing to protection of carbon stocks and forest biodiversity.
  • Building soil organic matter in agricultural systems supports soil biodiversity, and enhances the resilience of ecosystems, through improved retention of nutrients and water.
  • LDN addresses the key environmental concerns that threaten ecosystem functions.

Avoiding, reducing and reversing land degradation thereby underpin the maintenance and enhancement of land-based ecosystem services, key to meeting the sustainable development goals.

The land-based indicators identified for LDN monitoring are relevant to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity. There is potential for synergies through coordinated monitoring and reporting to the three Rio conventions.

LDN monitoring can also contribute to reporting on SDG target 15.3: the same indicators are applicable for monitoring SDG indicator 15.3.1 “Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area”.

Neutrality is monitored through change in values of a specific set of consistently measured indicators of land-based natural capital and ecosystem function.

Read more: