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Managing the global land resource

"With a growing population with changing demands, competition for the global land resource is increasing. We need to feed a projected population of 9–10 billion by 2050, rising to approximately 12 billion by 2100. At the same time, we need to reduce the climate impact of agriculture, forestry and other land use, and we almost certainly need to deliver land-based greenhouse gas removal for additional climate change mitigation. In addition, we need to deliver progress towards meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, all without compromising the many ecosystem services provided by land and without exceeding planetary boundaries. Managing the land to tackle these pressing issues is a major global challenge. In this perspective paper, I provide a very broad overview of the main challenges, and explore co-benefits, trade-offs and possible solutions."

The management of land is involved with the delivery of most of the UN SDGs. For some, the link is clear (e.g. zero hunger requires food which requires land), while for others, the link is perhaps less obvious. Nevertheless, by mapping the functions provided by land/soils, and the ecosystem services they underpin—and then connecting these functions and ecosystem services with the delivery of each SDG, it is easier to conceptualize and quantify the role of land in delivering the SDGs [6]. For example, figure 2 presents a framework to map the role of soils onto the SDGs, by considering soil functions, the ecosystem services they underpin and how these functions and ecosystem services map onto each of the SDGs. Some related disciplines are shown as blue circles, and some of the global challenges are shown as yellow circles (figure 2). For each SDG, the soil functions and ecosystem service underpinning delivery of that SDG is show in the outer ring of the circle, with numbers keyed to each function/ecosystem service.

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