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Practical knowledge for a fairer, safer, sustainable world. SDGs edition: 2021

The SDGs edition gives a holistic view of where things currently stand, identifying opportunities and providing tangible ways to accelerate progress. It provides a framework to understand the complex interdependencies, highlights priorities and dilemmas, and, most importantly, offers solutions. It will be relevant for sustainability practitioners in all sectors.

Restoring land. We know how to restore land, and the benefits it brings to communities, climate, and biodiversity. Countries must act on land restoration now.

Countries must prioritize land restoration. The impacts of land degradation on biodiversity and climate have sparked ambitious objectives for land restoration at national, regional, and global levels.

The benefits of land restoration for ecosystem resilience, local communities, nature, and biodiversity are broadly recognized. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimate that land restoration could contribute to over a third of climate change mitigation required to meet global al. (2020), restoring 15% of converted lands in priority areas could sequester 299 billion tons of CO2 , or 30% of the total atmospheric CO2 increase since the Industrial Revolution.

This could serve as the foundation for ambitious 2050 global conservation and climate mitigation agendas. Making land restoration a reality.

Experts, UN agencies and practitioners are broadly in agreement on what is needed and known to make land restoration possible. Implementing known sustainable land management (SLM), restoration and rehabilitation practices should be a priority for countries.

  • As the UN Convention to Combat Desertification explained in its 2017 report, SLM involves a range of technologies and practices and integrates local biophysical, socio-cultural, and economic needs and values in decisions to holistically achieve long-term productive ecosystems.

Actions for land restoration are primarily focused on soil and water conservation, including the management of vegetation cover and soils, for example through tillage practices or nutrient supply to rebuild soil carbon, and agroforestry practices. Physical methods such as building terraces in hilly and mountainous terrain can reduce erosion and sediment transport but also result in durable changes to the landscape.

The costs and benefits of SLM and land restoration greatly depend on where and how it is done. As the IPCC explains, measures that support land restoration practices include tenure reform, tax incentives, payments for ecosystem services, participatory integrated land-use planning, farmer networks, and rural advisory services. While these measures are available, their adoption is generally limited to a minority of innovative land users and practitioners.

Their implementation is restricted by economic, political, institutional, legal, and socio-cultural policy barriers. These barriers need to be addressed as a matter of urgency, Making land restoration a core part of climate strategies As part of the Paris Agreement process, countries must provide new or updated climate strategies at regular intervals. Over 80 countries have updated their climate strategies ahead of COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021.

Many have identified the land sector and land degradation as priority areas for action.

This publication features articles from world-leading experts including Amina J. Mohammed, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Preeti Sinha, Peter Bakker, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Teresa Ribera, Johan Rockström, Kirsten Brosbøl, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

SDG Action is a resource for sustainability practitioners in all sectors and brings timely analysis of the most pressing challenges. Written by world-leading experts, SDG Action identifies opportunities and provides tangible ways to accelerate progress.

You can access the full text publication here

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