A new reported by the United Nations shows that land degradation is steadily increasing, and the continued mismanagement and misuse of resources will only speed the processs up. This is according to the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
Many regenerative agricultural approaches, according to the report, have the potential to boost food yields and nutritional quality while lowering greenhouse gas emissions and extracting carbon from the environment, therefore aiding in the fight against climate change.
It provides an unprecedented picture of the global repercussions of three scenarios until 2050: business as usual, restoration of 50 million square kilometres of land, and restoration methods supplemented by the conservation of natural regions critical to certain ecosystem services.
“At no other point in modern history has humanity faced such an array of familiar and unfamiliar risks and hazards, interacting in a hyper-connected and rapidly changing world. We cannot afford to underestimate the scale and impact of these existential threats,” the report warns.
Something needs to change
“Conserving, restoring, and using our land resources sustainably is a global imperative, one that requires action on a crisis footing…Business as usual is not a viable pathway for our continued survival and prosperity.”
The UNCCD’s evidence-based flagship Global Land Outlook 2 (GLO2) report, developed over five years with 21 partner organisations and containing over 1,000 references, is the most comprehensive compilation of information on the subject ever assembled. Hundreds of examples from around the world are included in GLO2, demonstrating the possibilities of land restoration. It is being released before the UNCCD’s 15th Conference of Parties (COP15), which will take place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from 9 to 22 May 2022.
“Modern agriculture has altered the face of the planet more than any other human activity. We need to urgently rethink our global food systems, which are responsible for 80% of deforestation, 70% of freshwater use, and the single greatest cause of terrestrial biodiversity loss,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, executive secretary of the UNCCD.
“Investing in large-scale land restoration is a powerful, cost-effective tool to combat desertification, soil erosion, and loss of agricultural production. As a finite resource and our most valuable natural asset, we cannot afford to continue taking land for granted.”
Setting an example
Hundreds of good practise snapshots from around the world are available on GLO2, each illustrating context-specific ways to address environmental degradation, restore land health, and enhance living conditions.
These examples include rewilding in northern Portugal and the Iberá wetlands in Argentina and drought preparedness and risk reduction through national programmes in Mexico, the United States, and Brazil. Other examples include sand and dust storm source mitigation in Iraq, China, and Kuwait; and gender-responsive land restoration in Mali, Nicaragua, and Jordan. There are further examples of integrated flood and drought methods, as well as high-value crop forest landscape restoration.
“The case studies from around the world showcased in GLO2 make clear that land restoration can be implemented in almost all settings and at many spatial scales. This suggests that every country can design and implement a tailored land restoration agenda to meet their development needs,” says Thiaw.