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SDG indicator 15.3.1

SDG15.3.1 map

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 promotes “Life on Land” and SDG target 15.3 states: ‘By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation–neutral world.’ This page explains why and how to monitor progress towards the target, and what resources are available for countries to do so.

The indicator at a glance

SDG Indicator 15.3.1 measures the proportion of land that is degraded over total land area.  

The UNCCD defines land degradation as “the reduction or loss of the biological or economic productivity and complexity of rain fed cropland, irrigated cropland, or range, pasture, forest and woodlands resulting from a combination of pressures, including land use and management practices” (UNCCD 1994, Article 1). 

Under this definition, the extent of land degradation for reporting on SDG Indicator 15.3.1 is calculated as a binary - degraded/not degraded - quantification using its three sub-indicators which are:

  • Trends in land cover
  • Trends in land productivity, and
  • Trends in carbon stocks (above and below ground), currently represented by soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks

Essentially, any significant reduction or negative change in one of the three sub-indicators is considered to comprise land degradation.

The indicator allows countries to assess the extent of land degradation. This assessment is useful not only for national reporting to the UNCCD and reporting on SDG indicator 15.3.1, but also for tracking progress towards voluntary Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets and for the development of plans of action to redress degradation, including through the conservation, sustainable management, rehabilitation and restoration of land resources.

The UNCCD is the custodian agency for SDG indicator 15.3.1. Information on this indicator has been regularly collected by the UNCCD through its national reporting and review process since 2018, and every four years thereafter.

Indicator SDG 15.3.1 has been upgraded to Tier 1 in October 2019.

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