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Land Degradation Neutrality: Healthy Land for Healthy People

healthy land for healthy people

Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) is a paradigm shift in land management policies and practices. It is a unique approach that counterbalances the expected loss of productive land with the recovery of degraded areas. It strategically places the measures to conserve, sustainably manage and restore land in the context of land use planning. LDN aims to preserve land resources by ensuring no net loss of healthy and productive land 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. 

LDN can only be achieved through coordinated efforts to integrate its objectives with land-use planning and land management, underpinned by sound understanding of the human-environment system and effective governance mechanisms. 

With the support of the LDN Target Setting Programme, 123 countries have pledged to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality at the national or sub-national level, and as of May 2020, more than 100 countries have already set their voluntary national LDN targets, and many have secured high-level government commitment to achieve LDN. Many of the targets provide additional benefits to advance gender equality, increase women’s access to and control over land and natural resources, improve health and nutrition, reduce poverty, restore ecosystems, and minimize the negative effects of climate change.

Avoiding and reducing the negative impacts on land, as well as restoring land resources, are crucial to tackle climate change, conserve and protect biodiversity and maintain vital ecosystem services, while also ensuring shared prosperity and well-being. Healthy and productive land can play an unparalleled role as an engine of economic growth and a source of livelihoods for billions worldwide, including the most vulnerable populations. Target 15.3: 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. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the custodian agency for SDG indicator 15.3.1 (“Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area”) which was proposed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG indicators (IAEG-SDGs) and adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) in March 2017 to monitor progress towards achieving SDG target 15.3.

The UNCCD and its key partner, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), have convened an inter-agency advisory group to develop and refine the methodology and data options contained in this Good Practice Guidance (GPG) for SDG indicator 15.3.1. This Good Practice Guidance (GPG) describes the methods to process and interpret data from available sources that can be used to support countries in their assessment and quantification of land degradation. While it difficult for a single indicator to fully capture the state or condition of the land, the sub-indicators are proxies to monitor the key factors and driving variables that reflect the capacity of the land to deliver ecosystem services. In this regard, this GPG assists countries in accessing and interpreting a wide range of data sources for the sub-indicators, including Earth observation and geospatial information, while at the same time ensuring national ownership. The UNCCD reporting template includes the indicator and sub-indicators. Thus, the use of the UNCCD’s national reports provides a practical and harmonized approach by which countries can report on the indicator beginning in 2018 and every four years thereafter.


Sustainable Land Management
  • More than a quarter of the earth’s land is currently degraded, affecting the lives of 3.2 billion people, particularly smallholder farmers, those in rural communities and the world’s poorest populations (Source)
  • According to the recently published World Atlas of Desertification, approximately 20% of the Earth’s vegetated land surface showed persistent declining trends in land productivity between the years 1999 and 2013  . In addition, the Trends.Earth tool reports a global degradation of 15% between the years 2001 and 2015 ( Source)
  • SLM can support the objectives of the three Rio Conventions (UNCCDUNFCCC and the CBD), as it provides opportunities to collaborate and develop integrated approaches that can contribute to these Conventions, through its positive impacts on productivity, increased resilience to climate change, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and the conservation of biological diversity (Source)
  • SLM also contributes directly to achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including:
  • SDG 15 (life on land), which focuses on the achievement of land degradation neutrality, by providing a suite of targeted, appropriate land management practices that prevent the loss of healthy land and maintain or improve the land’s productivity;
  • SDG 1 (end to poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), and SDG 3 (good health and well-being), by enhancing food security and other livelihood benefits, and by increasing the resilience of the land and the populations depending on it;
  • SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), through its contribution to sustainable water management, and
  • SDG 13 (climate action), by increasing resilience and creating synergistic actions for climate change adaptation and mitigation, for example by increasing soil carbon stocks.(Source)
  • According to the Science-Policy brief on SLM for Climate and People, produced by the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface, to trigger large-scale adoption of SLM to the extent that it becomes successful in addressing national land management challenges, the barriers to adoption need to be addressed and tangible benefits for land users should be offered. (Source)
  • The brief argues that “land users and managers are more likely to adopt SLM technologies and practices if they are convinced that it maintains or enhances production and food security and if there are economic benefits or other direct incentives that ensure or enhance their livelihoods and well-being" (p.5). According to the brief, policy makers play a crucial role by creating the necessary environment at national and sub-national levels to promote large-scale adoption of SLM.(Source)
  • Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) has arisen as a response to growing competition for natural resources, to reconcile demands and interdependencies from different sectors and stakeholders in a way that is more sustainable, inclusive and effective at scale. This approach is more likely to lead to sustainable landscapes in the long term by explicitly addressing trade-offs and synergies among stakeholders and between different parts of the landscape and by building collaborative relationships. (Source)
  • Achievement of the Goals will also require substantial investment in land related sectors. Farms must increase productivity to feed at least 9 billion people by 2050 while per capita meat consumption rises.3 This could require a total agricultural production increase of over 200 million tons to reach 470 million in total.4 In developing countries, it is estimated that 80 percent of production increases will come from raising yields, while 20 percent will come from expansion of farming area.(Source)
  • The total average annual net investment in developing country agriculture required to deliver the necessary production increases is estimated to be USD 83 billion which would require an increase of about 50 percent.(Source)
  • Climate change, drought, and increasing demand for food and natural resources are making access to energy and raw materials more costly for  land-based enterprises, from small farmers  to large agribusiness. (Source)
  • Sustainable land use usually refers to action at the scale of a particular land management unit or stakeholder group — farms, production forests, protected areas — in a sustainable way.(Source)
  • Integrated landscapes, by contrast, require sustainable land management in diverse land management units that is coordinated by stakeholders to achieve the diverse landscape goals (Table 2). In the context of investment and finance this distinction can be quite significant as it calls for actors to evaluate, implement and monitor investments in a different way.(Source)
  • Asset investments create tangible value that is returned back to the investor, ideally with a profit. Enabling investments lay the institutional and policy foundation for asset investments by generating incentives for asset investments and by supporting landscape coordination. (Source)
  • Investment decisions are made by evaluating the risk-to-reward profile as well as the strategy parameters set by the institution. This is the case for all types of financiers from microcredit to pension funds to district development funds. However, for the finance decision-makers, evaluating a potential investment within its landscape context can be complex and more expensive(Source)
  • Recommendations for Scaling Finance for  Integrated Landscape Management: 1. Design standards and monitoring systems for integrated landscape investments 2. Establish landscape investment incubators 3. Establish brokering services for integrated landscape deals 4. Incorporate integrated landscape principles into public finance 5. Create frameworks for financing ILM within national SDG and green growth strategies(Source)
  • Globally, about 74% of people living in poverty are directly affected by land degradation (Source)
  • Indigenous peoples depend heavily on renewable natural resources most threatened by climate change. While they account for 5% of the world’s population, indigenous peoples steward around 22% of the Earth’s land surface(Source)
  • Land degradation threatens the livelihoods of billions of people around the world . This is particularly the case for populations living in rural areas where most of the poor people reside: estimates report that 80% of the extreme poor live in rural areas and 65% work in the agricultural sector . Land represents a key asset for the livelihoods of the rural poor, as it provides key resources such as food, energy, shelter, and fodder, among others (Source)
  • A global profile of the poor reveals that 80% of the extreme poor and 75% of the moderate poor  live in rural areas  and about 76% of the rural extreme poor and 61% of the rural moderate poor are employed in the agricultural sector, indicating that these groups are dependent on the agricultural sector for employment(Source)
  • In several countries, people in the bottom 40% of the national income distribution (the indicator related to SDG Target 10.1 on reducing inequality) tend to be located in areas with a higher percentage of degraded land. In addition, out of 2.1 billion people worldwide living in rural drylands, 444 million (or 21%) resided in degraded areas. Populations in drylands are especially affected by land degradation due to multiple factors, including low land productivity, high levels of water shortages, high population density in relation to the availability of productive land and high poverty rates.(Source)
  • 70% of child labour is in agriculture. According to the new ILO estimates, released in November 2017, 70% of child labour (108 million children) is concentrated in the agricultural sector. This is an increase of 10 million children in child labour in agriculture since the previous estimates from 2012 (Source)
  • Before the pandemic, people who suffered from extreme poverty were around 750 million. Now, another 70 million they risk sinking into this condition; in short, we will lose, with about 4 per cent of global GDP, many years in our fight. Olivier De Shutter  UNCCD panel 5 June 2020(Source)
  • Pandemic to push more than 34 million people into extreme poverty in 2020. Against the backdrop of a devastating pandemic, the global economy is projected to contract sharply by 3.2 per cent this year, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) mid-2020 report (Source)
  • The pandemic will likely cause an estimated 34.3 million people to fall below the extreme poverty line in 2020, with 56% of this increase occurring in African countries.  An additional 130 million people may join to the ranks of people living in extreme poverty by 2030, dealing a huge blow to global efforts for eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. The pandemic, which is disproportionately hurting low-skilled, low-wage jobs, while leaving higher-skilled jobs less affected – will further widen income inequality within and between countries. COVID-19 to slash global economic output by $8.5 trillion over next two years(Source)
  • Poverty projections suggest that the social and economic impacts of the crisis are likely to be quite significant. Estimates based on growth projections from the June 2020 Global Economic Prospects report show that, when compared with pre-crisis forecasts, COVID-19 could push 71 million people into extreme poverty in 2020 under the baseline scenario and 100 million under the downside scenario. (Source)
  • The number of people living under the international poverty lines for lower and upper middle-income countries – $3.20/day and $5.50/day in 2011 PPP, respectively – is also projected to increase significantly, signaling that social and economic impacts will be widely felt. Specifically, under the baseline scenario, COVID-19 could generate 176 million additional poor at $3.20 and 177 million additional poor at $5.50. This is equivalent to an increase in the poverty rate of 2.3 percentage points compared to a no-COVID-19 scenario. (Source)
  • A large share of the new extreme poor will be concentrated in countries that are already struggling with high poverty rates and numbers of poor. Almost half of the projected new poor will be in South Asia, and more than a third in Sub-Saharan Africa (Source) updated 12 June 2020
Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR)
  • FLR is the process of regaining ecological functionality and enhancing human well-being across deforested or degraded landscapes (see Section 1.1.4). This fits with the LDN objective of counterbalancing the expected loss of productive land through the recovery of degraded areas, where FLR specifically targets mosaic landscapes of different ecosystems and land uses. (Source)
  • Since the Bonn Challenge was launched in 2011, pledges have been made to restore approximately 170 million hectares (IUCN, 2018), of which 94 million hectares will be brought into restoration by 2020. The Bonn Challenge is underpinned by the FLR approach. Regional initiatives support this global goal, for example, AFR100 in Africa and Initiative 20x20 in Latin American and Caribbean countries.(Source)
  • Each country pledged to the Bonn Challenge has their own approach towards designing and implementing large-scale FLR activities. Countries, communities and the private sector have many reasons for implementing FLR, for food and water security, job creation and enterprise development, sustainable supply chains and rural development, to name a few. FLR interventions are therefore diverse, ranging from intensified agroforestry and silvopastoral systems, to enrichment planting, restoration of forests, wetlands and lakes, and others within a landscape context. (Source)
  • To date, 450 million hectares across 26 countries and 39 jurisdictions have been assessed with the direct support of IUCN, and a total of 160 million hectares of FLR opportunities identified. (Source)
  • The 2nd Bonn Challenge Progress Report presents results on action from in-depth application of the Barometer in a subset of countries, with some information presented on an additional 12 countries from a desk review and interviews (Dave et al., 2019). To date, 57 governments and private sector entities have pledged over approximately 170 million hectares towards the Bonn Challenge target, with potential climate change mitigation benefit of 15.66 GtCO2e. Progress is variable among countries, and much remains to be done to meet the 2020 goals and the even more ambitious target of 2030. (Source)
  • To achieve synergy between LDN and FLR, it is vital that governments recognise how Bonn Challenge commitments contribute to LDN targets and vice versa. In many countries, these commitments and targets are the responsibility of different institutions and ministries, posing a risk of disconnection.(Source)
  • Guiding principles have been developed to safeguard the outcomes of FLR (IUCN & WRI, 2014) and LDN activities. Figure 9 shows the relationship between the FLR and LDN principles. There is strong alignment between them, although the LDN principles are more detailed. Some of the LDN principles are more methodological and do not link to specific FLR principles.(Source)
  • LDN is essentially made up of three hierarchical components: avoiding degradation, restoration and/or rehabilitation and SLM (UNCCD, 2016a). Different approaches have been implemented to restore and sustain land resources (i.e. soil, water and biodiversity), such as SLM, landscape restoration and/or rehabilitation, ecosystem-based approaches and area-based conservation(Source)
  • FLR activities also encompass ecosystem restoration and other ecosystem-based approaches, SLM and conservation of natural areas. Therefore, FLR can be used to achieve LDN. (Source)
  • When setting LDN targets, countries should establish LDN national working groups with a wide composition of relevant stakeholders (including government representatives from multiple ministries). This will promote institutional coordination, if there are no existing FLR structures to build on, and will guide the process and foster internal coordination among national policies. (Source)
  • Since 2018, IUCN has worked with countries and partners to use the Barometer to report on FLR processes and implementation actions. The Barometer includes indicators on land brought into restoration in hectares and carbon sequestration benefits from restoration actions. These two indicators are directly relevant to the LDN’s three core indicators: land cover, soil carbon and productivity. (Source)
  • The Barometer currently only records above ground carbon, however, below ground and soil carbon can be calculated using standard methodologies and reported under this indicator (an explicit indicator on soil carbon capture on land area under restoration will be added in the next phase of the Barometer).Ideally, monitoring, reporting and verification systems for LDN and FLR targets should be established during planning and initiation of the restoration activities.(Source)
  • The Bonn Challenge Barometer will support jurisdictions that have committed to the Bonn Challenge in evaluating progress toward meeting their commitments by offering a framework to consistently and systematically take stock of hectares brought under restoration. The Bonn Challenge Barometer will also utilise a standardised set of policy, regulatory, financial, and technical components deemed important for achieving successful landscape restoration. IUCN is leading the design of the Bonn Challenge Barometer and its associated protocol, with the participation and contributions from government and non-government stakeholders in six pilot countries: Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, Rwanda, Sri Lanka and USA. (Source)
  • The Bonn Challenge Barometer protocol is structured into two main components. The first assesses key enabling conditions that are crucial to long-term success of FLR efforts. These “Success Factors” include policy and institutional arrangements, and financial and technical planning parameters. The second component focuses on progress and impacts, called “Results and Benefits,” and includes hectares under restoration including climate impacts, biodiversity impacts and socioeconomic impacts, among others. (Source)
  • Restoring degraded land offers numerous environmental, social and economic benefits, from biodiversity conservation to job creation and improved agricultural productivity.8 It is estimated that every US$ 1 invested in restoring degraded forests can yield between US$ 7-30 in economic benefits (Verdone & Seidl, 2017).(Source)
  • To achieve large-scale landscape restoration a mix of funding sources should be considered. These could include: climate finance, development cooperation, environmental funds, non-governmental funding, national budgets and resources, the private sector and non-traditional funding (e.g. crowd funding). (Source)
  • Annual funding needs for conservation and landscape restoration are estimated to range from US$ 300 to US$ 400 billion per year, indicating a massive financing gap (Credit Suisse et al., 2014; FAO & Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, 2015), and 80% of the funds that are available comes from public sources (Parker et al., 2012).(Source)
  • The LDN Fund aims to improve the connection between public and private investors. This impact investment fund blends resources from the public, private and philanthropic sectors to achieve LDN through SLM and land restoration projects implemented by the private sector.(Source)
  • A number of guiding principles have been developed to safeguard the outcomes of FLR and LDN activities. The safeguards reveal a strong alignment between LDN and FLR principles, even though LDN principles are more detailed. This underscores the observation that there is no technical reason why FLR actions cannot be counted towards LDN targets, and many LDN actions can contribute towards Bonn Challenge commitments.(Source)
  • The use of innovative LDN monitoring platforms such as Trends.Earth is increasing. Trends.Earth is a user-friendly tool for accessing best available default data from global data sources on LDN indicators and integrating relevant national datasets for LDN baseline assessment and monitoring. This platform can monitor changes in the forest cover, and as data with higher spatial and temporal resolution becomes available and is integrated, it can monitor LDN and FLR both at national and subnational levels.(Source)
  • One in three people on earth depend directly on agriculture, while nearly 80% of employed women in least developed countries report agriculture as their primary livelihood(Source)
  • Studies found that women with secure land rights benefit from having greater status within the household, an increased role in decision-making and a higher likelihood of investing in soil conservation and agroforestry. Likewise, efforts to bolster the land rights of collectively-held land users, who by some estimates hold 65% of the world’s land areas under customary systems, have led to enhanced land use and management outcomes(Source)
  • Women typically own less land and have less secure rights over land than men.  Women make up, on average, fewer than 20% of the world’s landholders, with a wide range across countries(Source)
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) estimates that if women around the world had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30% and raise total agricultural output by 2.5 to 4%, which could save 100 to 150 million people from hunger.(Source)
  • Women are central to successful efforts to manage land sustainably, build resilience and ensure food security, and they play critical roles in the agricultural value chain including the availability, access and utilization of food(Source)
  • Nearly 80 per cent of employed women in the least developed countries report agriculture as their primary source of livelihood, while women comprise 43 per cent of the world’s agricultural labour force (Source)
  • According to UNCCD guidance, LDN transformative projects and programmes must include a participatory gender-responsive approach to define land-use planning, adopt equitable land management decisions, and institute evaluation and adaptative learning systems. Financial mechanisms for LDN transformative projects and programmes likewise require concerted gender analysis and concrete steps to go beyond efforts to “do-no-harm,” and to actively foster empowerment for women and affected communities.(Source)
  • Priorities for action under the UNCCD Gender Action Plan. 1)Ensuring women ́s participation in decisions taken during the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of initiatives to implement the Convention. 2)Integrating women’s economic empowerment in UNCCD implementation activities in order to eradicate their extreme poverty. 3)Strengthening women’s land rights and access to resources.4)Enhancing women’s access to improved knowledge and technologies that relate to effective UNCCD implementation.(Source)
  • The development of LDN transformative projects and programmes, including the articulation of their approach, components and activities must be based on initial gender and social analysis that includes a localized analysis of land rights, division of labour within households and farms, benefit-sharing, access to and control of resources, knowledge and incentives.(Source)
  • Ideal LDN TPPs aim to stop excessive loss of productive land and reduce gender inequality by leveraging co-benefits for optimal outcomes. Project objectives may: i) stake dedicated gender equality goals that align with the UNCCD GAP; ii) directly and explicitly target women and the structural, institutional and social barriers that exclude them from the control and management of land, productive and natural resources; or iii) narrow gender disparities and equip women as agents of change who effectively “promote and protect their rights, manage their workloads, and use their knowledge to negotiate fairer laws and policies. (Source)
  • Gender mainstreaming is required for project compliance and is a pre-requisite for projects submitted to most funding entities. (Source)
  • Land and forest rights, especially for women, are critical to effective LDN outcomes. Since project areas will likely include varied land governance regimes, project planners must account for women’s rights in different land governance regimes in the project areas, including their land and inheritance rights to communal, family, ancestral, indigenous, public and private lands, to ensure they include guarantees and safeguard for women’s rights and to ensure equal benefits from project dividends.(Source)
  • Information and data for a nuanced, gender-responsive analysis of the country context for LDN projects – particularly major political, legal and social factors that influ¬ence the realization of women’s land rights – can be accessed at the following knowledge hubs ( see page 18)(Source)
  • Examples of gender-responsive technologies and training in LDN projects ( see page 21)(Source)
  • Gender mainstreaming within the project cycle requires adequate budgetary allocations to carry out the anticipated analysis, activities, monitoring and evaluation and to resource the requisite staff needed to ensure affected men and women benefit from the intervention. A gender-responsive budgeting approach “is not about whether an equal amount is spent on women and men, but whether project/programme measures and activities are adequately funded to address men’s and women’s differentiated adaptation [or land degradation neutrality] needs” and that “both women and men benefit from the planned project/programme.”(page 28)(Source)
  • Examples of LDN project-based Gender Action Plans (page 31)(Source)
Water Security and Drought
  • Forty-eight of the 77 analysed countries (62%) connected their contribution to the UNFCCC (through their Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs) to LDN and to water security.(Source)
  • Around 36% of the world’s population is currently living in water-scarce regions,3 and a 2018 global study on water for drinking, cooking and sanitation from the United Nations concluded that water shortages could affect 5 billion people by 2050. (Source)
  • For water, the natural landscape perimeter is the watershed, and forty-eight out of the 77 countries analysed aim to use watershed management, for large basins as well as for micro-watersheds.(Source)
  • Forty-five countries explicitly address the linkage between land and water through at least one soil and water conservation measure, such as watershed reforestation (a majority of the 45 countries), gully control (Sudan and China) or terracing to combat water erosion in slopes (Eritrea and Rwanda), diversion of flood water to reduce soil salinization (Cape Verde), reduction of waterlogging (Bangladesh), and drainage (Algeria, Mauritius and Ukraine).(Source)
  • As an immediate response, 31 countries are considering initiatives to increase water harvesting, such as building dams, digging infiltration ditches, harvesting rainwater, or recharging aquifers. (Source)
  • To address food security challenges, increase national agricultural output and reduce the impacts of drought, 29 countries (38%) explicitly plan to expand irrigated areas, in some cases substantially (i.e. above 1 million ha). This percentage may be an underestimate, since a majority of countries aims to improve agricultural productivity without formally stating that they are relying on irrigation expansion for this purpose.(Source)
  • Amongst the 77 LDN target setting countries analysed, 34 (44%) highlighted the need to improve water-use efficiency in the agriculture sector, using for instance modern irrigation techniques.(Source)
  • Eight countries refer to the ‘polluter pays’ principle, and 11 mention payment for ecosystem services (PES) as sustainable sources of funding for LDN projects. Several of these PES schemes are related to water security and defined at watershed level, such as Viet Nam’s aim to reach 70% high-quality forest cover in upper watersheds and 40% in lower watersheds. Namibia explores innovative funding mechanisms, such as an increase or decrease in taxes in relation to land degradation activities and private sector funding. Direct water relevant subsidies include those to improve hydraulic systems (in the Dominican Republic) or to promote water-saving appliances (in Jordan and in the Philippines).(Source)
  • Most of the 77 countries experienced a decline in wetland areas, while increases were observed in a few countries and a handful of countries indicated stability in wetland area, most likely because of lack of new data. Forty-three countries analysed in this study identified wetland conservation and restoration measures, such as reducing the rate of conversion, establishing a preservation policy, or restoring part of the degraded wetlands, while 15 of these countries had a direct target on no net loss of wetlands. (Source)
  • In addition, 24 countries have taken steps to protect rivers and lakes from run-off, pollution and river bank degradation through the conservation or restoration of forest galleries and other riparian forests (Belarus, Benin, Ghana, Jordan, Moldova, Togo), river bank protection and stabilization (Burkina Faso, Malawi, Saint Lucia, Eswatini, Seychelles, Tanzania), prevention of river bank cultivation (Zimbabwe), establishment of buffer strips and regulation of discharge in water bodies (Egypt).(Source)
  • By 2030, demand for freshwater is projected to exceed supply by 40 percent. Estimates suggest agricultural production will need to go up by more than 70 percent by 2050 to feed a population of 9 billion people. The total average annual net investment in developing country agriculture required to deliver the necessary production increases is estimated to be USD 83 billion, an increase  of about 50 percent.(Source)
  • The wellbeing of 3.2 billion people is impacted by land degradation. (Source)
  • Nearly one-quarter of the global land surface has reduced productivity due to land degradation. (Source)
  • About 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. (Source)
  • At least 680 vertebrate species have gone extinct since the 16th century. (Source)
  • he average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. (Source)
  • One-third of the solution to the climate crisis can be found through restoration, conservation and other land management actions.(Source)
  • By 2050, land degradation and climate change combined could cut crop yields by some 10%.(Source)
  • Pollution, over-extraction and other factors mean that four fifths of the world’s population live in areas where water security is threatened. Land degradation can also increase the risk of diseases, displacement and disasters.(Source)
  • While biodiversity is not directly captured in the three main LDN indicators, the LDN framework encourages countries to use additional indicators where appropriate, including those for biodiversity. These can refer to any other nationally relevant indicators that may address some of the drivers or consequences of land degradation (for example soil salinization or soil erosion) or indicators related to specific biodiversity values that are relevant to the country. On this basis, achieving LDN strongly implies, and likely requires, successful biodiversity conservation.(Source)
  • The affinity between LDN and biodiversity conservation is evident from a comparison of the overall objectives of LDN and the CBD. Both aim to halt the loss of natural ecosystems, especially forests, and further the sustainable management of our limited natural capital.(Source)
  • LDN Transformative Projects and Programmes should be designed and implemented in ways that contribute to LDN and biodiversity goals as well as multiple SDGs, involve all relevant stakeholders, consider gender issues, and reflect a balance between the different social, economic and environmental priorities and interests at stake. Significant financial support should be directed for this purpose, and the 2021-2030 UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration represents a unique opportunity to mobilize the resources needed. (Source)
Mountain Ecosystems 
  • High climate variability and extreme meteorological events disrupt agricultural activities in the assessed countries, affecting approximately 60 million people in mountain regions, 16 million of whom are vulnerable to food insecurity. Four million mountain people are located in areas at high risk from extreme climate events and with limited access to basic services, living approximately 3-4 hours’ driving distance from the closest food market. The coping capacity of these communities is heavily compromised by the combined effects of adverse weather and isolation that endangers both their assets and livelihoods (Source)
  • Between 2012 and 2017, the rural mountain population vulnerable to food insecurity increased from 307 to 346 million people (i.e., more than one person out of two), an increase of 12% within five years. (Source)
  • 50 million people currently live in remote rural mountain areas where their ability to access basic health, education, water, and supply services is limited, and their trading capacity constrained; 17 million of these people are also vulnerable to food insecurity.(Source)
  • 311 million people – approximately half of the mountain population in thedeveloping countries – live in areas exposed to progressive land degradation,178 million of whom are considered vulnerable to food insecurity (approximately 27% of the mountain population in 2017). Of this 178 million,74 million live in areas registering important land degradation increases during the assessed period (46 million of whom live in croplands).(Source)
  • The vast majority of the populations in rural areas of developing countries vulnerable to food insecurity reside in croplands (249 million, 72% of the entire vulnerable population), where arable farming is likely to be the dominant economic activity. (Source)
  • Africa, particularly Eastern Africa, has seen an alarming increase in vulnerability to food insecurity in rural mountain areas (23% from 2012 to 2017), especially where land is rapidly degrading, putting agricultural production and livelihoods at risk. The situation is further exacerbated by population pressure, with the population in Eastern Africa increasing by nearly 1.5% over a period of five years, a dramatic increase when compared to the global average.(Source)
  • The most relevant information emerging from this study is the increase in the number of rural mountain inhabitants living in developing countries that are vulnerable to food insecurity. The 2017 estimates show an increase from 307 to 346 million people over a five-year period, 2012 to 2017 (see Figure 1). Overall, the population exposed to food insecurity in mountain areas has increased by 12.5% over five years, surpassing the rate of increase of non-vulnerable peoples (12.2%).(Source)
  • African mountain regions, especially in Eastern Africa (the Great Rift Valley range), present the highest population growth rate and increase in vulnerability to food insecurity in the five years to 2017 (22.8%), affecting 132 million people, 24 million more than in 2012. Between 2012 and 2017, out of the 132 million mountain people vulnerable to food insecurity, 86 million lived in areas characterized by limited to very extensive land degradation changes, and 27 million of those lived in areas where the rate of land depletion was moderate to very high.(Source)
  • Between 2012 and 2017, the Asian mountain population increased from 535 to 579 million (8.1%) while the number of people vulnerable to food insecurity registered a decline in growth, settling at 7.5% against the 26% increase registered from 2000 to 2012. Despite this progress, Asia remains the world’s most populated continent with the highest increase in the number of vulnerable people (at 44 million; see Figure 6).Asian countries show mixed trends, with both increasesand decreases of vulnerability occurring when land degradation change intensifies (see Figure 5). In theIndian mountains for example, the number of vulnerable people in 2017 was approximately 30 million (12% increase from 2012), 13 million of whom were living on land that had progressively degraded over the same period.(Source)
  • The Latin America and Caribbean region was the world’s fastest-growing source of international migrants from 1990 to 2010. According to institutes such as the World Bank and UN Population Fund (UNFPA),2 the complex macroeconomic crises and political uncertainty that hit the largest countries in the region created the conditions for a very modest population growth rate. Vulnerability to food insecurity follows the same path, showing a very modest increase of less than 2%. According to IFAD, many small-scale farmers live in poverty and are food insecure, with limited access to markets and services. This study confirms the presence of isolated pockets of vulnerable populations distributed along the Andes and Caribbean islands (see Figure 8) affected by intense climate variability and land degradation.(Source)
  • Vulnerability to food insecurity in Oceania is generally low. However, a study conducted by the Asian Development Bank and IFPRI reports that Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands need to invest in the agriculture and fisheries sectors to improve their ability to combat the detrimental effects of climate change on food security and poverty, considering that climate change is expected to have significant negative impacts on agricultural output in these countries. Climate change will also negatively impact food consumption levels, calorie availability and the severity of child malnutrition. The poor will be the most adversely affected by these changes, with potential increases in the number of people vulnerable to food insecurity (see Figure 7).(Source)
  • The Pacific islands, on average, are more heavily affected by natural hazards relative to other small states in other regions. The Pacific has experienced about 2,400 tropical cyclones in the last 60 years (World Bank) and their occurrence has increased overtime, in-line with global trends. For example, the probability of natural hazards occurring in Papua New Guinea is about 20% a year, based on historical frequency. (Source)
  • The analysis of the infrastructural constraints and remoteness highlights that access to food and basic services is a challenge for several communities living in mountain regions. As a result of these factors, 32 million mountain people in developing countries are vulnerable to food insecurity and live in areas where the combined effect of stressors is most intense (medium to high levels) and where accessibility to markets, infrastructure and basic services is scarce. This makes them particularly exposed to food insecurity because of low resilience and their poor adaptive capacities.(Source)
Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
  • So far, 24 SIDS have committed to establishing LDN targets and baselines, and identifying and mapping leverage opportunities and LDN Transformative Projects and Programmes. (Source)
  • Nearly 83% of the SIDS set LDN commitments to minimize land degradation from ridge to reef, and to manage artificial areas, by applying LDN-specific land use planning policies and urban design guidelines (such as the ratio of tree cover and/or green area to built-up environment/infrastructure, plot coverage, etc.) as part of the national development strategy. (Source)
  • Out of the 65 million people living in SIDS, 50% within the working age group are female (2017) (Source)
  • The GEF recognizes that there is a need for targeted capacity building for SIDS, which includes mainstreaming LDN into national development frameworks. For its GEF-7 programming cycle, US$233 million has been allocated to SIDS. (Source)
  • By 2017, the Adaptation Fund had allocated US$110.4 million to 15 concrete adaptation projects in 14 SIDS. (Source)
  • Overall, the 39 SIDS countries spread across three regions have received USD1,380 million from multilateral climate funds between 2003 and 2017. In 2017, USD228 million was approved for projects in SIDS. A full 50% of this is programmed by the Green Climate Fund Altogether, 17 SIDS countries have received support from the Adaptation Fund (including from the Readiness and Project Formulation Grants).(Source)
  • With a budget of EUR30 million over a 4-year period, Adapt’Action will support 15 countries, with a priority focus on Africa and particularly LDCs and SIDS, which are among the most vulnerable countries to climate change.(Source)
New Social Contract with Nature
  • The UNCCD secretariat put together a brief  and a report to explain how the convention can support its Parties as they develop their response and recovery plans. Actions based on the clear understanding of rights, rewards and responsibilities of land management can help address the COVID-19 fallout by tackling one of the primary environmental drivers of emerging infectious disease outbreaks. At the same time, strengthening the resilience of our food and water systems, can help reduce the effects of the pandemic on global poverty and food insecurity. (Source)
  • The fact that COVID-19 emerged as a result of the destruction of nature has prompted increased awareness of the relationship between nature and human health. Conservationists and human health experts have long recognised links between and human health, and the pandemic has seen these conversations break out further into the mainstream.(Source)
  • The world is at a critical point in the road. COVID-19 demonstrated that when a threat is clear, accepted and communicated, people are willing to make extraordinary and immediate changes to the way they live.(Source)
  • A sound future can be built on a social contract for nature that will lead to a new normal that puts us in harmony with the environment, one that minimises the outbreak of zoonotic epidemics, revives a profitable economy and ensures that ecosystem services are available for everyone.(Source)
  • More than 70% of the ice-free land surface has been altered significantly already. By 2050, land-use change will affect 90% of the Earth’s land systems if we continue with business as usual, according to the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. If we carry on the same path, a future pandemic could be even more deadly and costly in terms of lives and livelihoods.
  • We can, however, create a new normal with the kind of transformative changes that will enable us to re-craft our relationship with land, biodiversity and the climate system. (Source)
  • Nature provides “ecosystem services” that are essential for life. Food. Water. Pollination. The very air we breathe. Ecosystem services are worth at least $125tn (£102tn) per year. This is about 1.5 times the gross domestic product of all countries, according to the WWF and Axa Report Into the Wild: integrating nature into investment strategies.Investing in land-based ecosystem services, for instance, could save up to $50bn, according to the report. The associated cost of doing nothing could be equal to 7% of global GDP by 2050.(Source)
  • The impact of COVID-19 has reinforced the need to shed light on the uneven access to opportunities. Policy design needs to take into account that gaps can be present throughout life.See page 28, Figure 17. Policies for Enhancing Access to Opportunities (Source)
  • Political leaders are assessing their next moves as the world slowly emerges from a global pandemic. It is widely accepted that returning to normal is not viable in view of the unmatched social, economic and environmental implications of the COVID19 pandemic. Normal got us here in the first place. But the decisions taken in the coming months will lock in development pathways for decades to come. It is time to rethink our relationship with Nature (Source)
  • To help address the COVID-19 crisis, and to identify and prepare for elements for further consideration by UNCCD Parties, the Convention Secretariat and the Global Mechanism are focusing their response around the following framework for action comprising three tracks, namely (i) addressing the health dimensions of the global crisis, (ii) safeguarding people’s lives and their livelihoods and (iii) building back better, smarter and stronger.(Source)
  • The COVID-19 crisis is hitting national economies hard; the equivalent of 305 million full-time jobs will have been lost globally by the end of the 2nd quarter of 2020 (10.5% lower than in the last pre-crisis quarter). For many extended families around the world, healthy land acts as a safety net in times of crisis, including sustenance. In times of crisis, it is crucial to secure availability of and access to healthy land for the most vulnerable.(Source)
  • Policymakers must do everything in their power to promote a more inclusive recovery, one that benefits all segments of society. (Source)