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Guidelines for Land Degradation Neutrality. A report prepared for the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility

Land degradation neutrality (LDN) aims to preserve the land resource base by ensuring no net loss of healthy and productive land. LDN is pursued through a combination of measures that avoid, reduce and reverse land degradation. Achieving neutrality requires estimating the likely impacts of land-use and land management decisions, then counterbalancing anticipated losses through strategically planned rehabilitation or restoration of degraded land within the same land type.
These guidelines briefly outline the key concepts, state the principles and present practical steps for applying each of these modules; they also provide a list of suggested resources (data, tools, explanatory documents). STAP/GEF

These guidelines support GEF project developers in formulating projects that contribute to the LDN ambitions of countries and in ensuring that other projects not directly targeting LDN are compatible with LDN objectives and approaches. The guidelines complement and expand the Checklist for Land Degradation Neutrality Transformative Projects and Programmes.They are intended to be applied during project development and at the problem definition and intervention design stages; they are also relevant to monitoring the achievement of LDN goals. 

  • LDN will only be achieved through concerted and coordinated efforts to integrate LDN objectives with land-use planning and land management, underpinned by sound understanding of the human-environment system and effective governance mechanisms. Therefore, these guidelines focus particularly on laying the foundation to achieve LDN by establishing enabling policies and applying integrated land-use planning, informed by preparatory assessments, as described in the Scientific Conceptual Framework for LDN (LDN-SCF).

The document was prepared in close consultation to ensure continuity with the LDN Conceptual Framework as well as guidance developed by the GM. This publication will contribute to our efforts to seed the “innovation ecosystem” building up around the LDN concept. The timing is also important, considering that land use change is the primary indirect driver behind emerging infectious diseases, and the no-net loss approach of LDN is a holistic policy response to optimizing land use decisions that can keep land in balance, in in so doing, food, energy and nature in balance. 

  •  In 2015 the UNCCD introduced the new concept of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN), which was later adopted as a target of Goal 15 of the SDGs, Life on Land: 120 countries have committed to pursue voluntary LDN targets.
  • The objectives of LDN are to: maintain or improve the sustainable delivery of ecosystem services; maintain or improve productivity, in order to enhance food security; increase resilience of the land and populations dependent on the land; seek synergies with other social, economic and environmental objectives; and reinforce responsible and inclusive governance of land.
  • The fundamental aim of LDN is to preserve the land resource base, by ensuring no net loss of healthy and productive land, at national level. This goal is to be achieved through a combination of measures that avoid, reduce and reverse land degradation. Achieving LDN requires estimating the likely cumulative impacts of land use and land management decisions, and counterbalancing anticipated losses through strategically-planned rehabilitation or restoration of degraded land, within the same land type.

These guidelines offer practical help to those developing projects which contribute to Land Degradation Neutrality.

Each of the five modules presents key concepts, principles, and practical steps for implementation.

The complete guidelines were presented in September 2019 at the UNCCD COP 14 in Delhi.

Figure illustrates the “theory of change”, developed for a study assessing the impacts of carbon farming practices in western New South Wales. The study aimed to determine whether carbon farming projects encouraging native vegetation are likely to enhance the resilience of the rangeland. The Resilience, Adaptation Pathways and Transformation Assessment (RAPTA) Framework was used to assess the resilience
of the current grazing system and the system integrating carbon farming. RAPTA facilitated a holistic assessment of the social, biophysical and economic impacts of the carbon farming in western New South Wales and improved understanding of the opportunities, trade-offs, synergies and risks. Details of the method and results are provided in Cowie et al. (2019).

Further reading on Land Degradation Neutrality from UNCCD Library

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