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The Land Degradation-Migration Nexus

Land remains the most fundamental asset for the majority of vulnerable populations living in developing countries, as their livelihoods are directly linked to agriculture. Land degradation is a pervasive systemic phenomenon that can take many problematic forms, including chemical contamination and pollution, salinity, soil erosion, nutrient depletion, overgrazing, deforestation, and desertification.

Today, over 1.3 billion people live on degraded agricultural land, and most vulnerable populations tend to lack secure access to land as well as control over land’s resources.

Migration has long been one of the most important livelihood strategies available to households to cope with environmental change and relieve population pressure from drylands unable to cope with additional stress. Due to the consideration that migration may be motivated by better employment opportunities, ensuring sustainable land management and ecosystem restoration compatible with the creation of decent and attractive employment opportunities is critical in order to reduce and avoid DLDD-related forced migration. 

Taking into account these different dimensions, it is important to acknowledge that existing migration dynamics are modified or exacerbated by environmental degradation, rather than uniquely caused by it. If no urgent actions are taken to protect, restore and rehabilitate vital land resources, desertification, land degradation, and drought (DLDD) will increase poverty and inequality, leaving many with few other options than to embark on perilous out-migration journeys.


The 3S Initiative - “Sustainability, Stability and Security”                                     

The 3S Initiative is an intergovernmental action launched by Morocco and Senegal at the African Action Summit (Marrakesh, November 2016) to bring a “voice for Africa” to the debate on drivers of migration and instability on the continent.

The Initiative is supported by the UNCCD Secretariat and aims at minimizing forced migration and radicalization by creating employment options for young people, women and migrants, through a number of land-related measures: promoting restoration of degraded lands, strengthening land access and tenure rights and enhancing early warning systems to predict drought and other natural hazards and support effective responses to the forced migration of affected populations.

Find more information at the 3S Initiative webpage and see the 3S Initiative video