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Panel session 3

Potential contribution of "zero net land degradation target" in driving the synergy agenda at all levels: best practices and successful case studies

 

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This session was facilitated by Dr. James Gambiza, Rhodes University, South Africa.

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In their joint presentation Mr. Shonisani Munzhedzi, Chief Director-Biodiversity Management in the Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa, and Ms. Julie Clarke, Programme Manager, Development Bank of Southern Africa, focused on concrete initiatives.

Mr. Munzhedzi presented the conceptual basis of the projects using the following formulae on land degradation:

    * addressing land degradation = addressing climate change;
    * addressing land degradation = land productivity, sustainable livelihoods and sustainable development;
    * people + sustainable land management + climate change = climate change solutions.

He said thetrue measure of our success should be the impact on the ground, and stressed the role of P3 - that is, partnership, partnership and partnership - between civil society and other actors as the basis of success.

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Ms Julie Clarke (PPT_Julie Clarke.pdfPPT_Julie Clarke.pdf) described the basis, role and experience of the Bank's Drylands Fund in land rehabilitation projects. She said the purpose of the Fund is to minimize the transaction costs and maximize the benefits and returns to the local communities, who are also investors. She observed that a key driver of private investments in the land restoration projects is the ability to measure. Thus, she said, the Fund has developed mechanisms to assess who wants the soil, water and tourism, and who can benefit from it, as well as ways to measure what kind of income they can get, and not simply from the carbon markets.

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Dr. Constance Neely, (PPT_Constance L. Neely.pdfPPT_Constance L. Neely.pdf) Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research Centres, focused her presentation on the restoration of the rangelands, stating that rangelands make up 50-75% of the total land area, and grasslands make up 70% the land under agriculture and store a lot of the world's carbon. She stressed the urgent need for climate-smart and development-smart pastoralism and drawing on examples from all regions, demonstrated how land restoration could be achieved generally within a period of 3 years, using livestock to mimic the behavior of large stocks of ruminants in the wild.

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Mr. Maxwell Mudhara, (PPT_Maxwell Mudhara.pdfPPT_Maxwell Mudhara.pdf) University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, presented a project involving Ghana, Morocco, South Africa and Uganda showcasing how conventional science can advance local/traditional/indigenous knowledge. The central question for the University-executed project is this: What is happening on the ground and how we can upscale it through stimulating approaches to community-development initiatives in sustainable land management? He presented three community initiatives that have been targeted for up scaling of their activities on combatting land degradation, including through embedding their institutions at the local and regional levels. Prof Mudhara underscored the importance of project identification process.

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Professor Rattan Lal, The Ohio State University, United States, participated in the session through a video message. He drew attention to the importance of science in driving land restoration initiatives, proposed ways to measure improvements in land degradation, in particular through assessing changes in the soil's biomass, and how such land restoration contributes to climate change mitigation and adaptation. He presented, inter alia, the critical limits of key soil properties that pertain to achieving a zero-net land degradation, drew attention to the reality of trade-offs, underlined that soil, as with climate change and biodiversity loss, is a crucial icon of global change, and provided 13 reasons why the loss of soil biomass is a good indicator land degradation.

The discussion focused on: how communities have been mobilized successfully; the challenges of rangeland restoration with the privatization of land and the economic, political and intellectual marginalization of the pastoral communities; how to deal with the more potent climate warming methane that would be produced by the livestock; and the differences between land degradation in the wet and dry areas.

The presenters: described the processes followed to work with communities; underlined the importance of partnerships between various actors for successful and long-term land restoration; and stressed that what the world cannot afford is bare land.

 

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