UNCCD Stakeholders Share Their Opinions About Rio+20 Outcome on Land-Degradation Neutrality
At Rio+20, the world leaders recognized the economic and social significance of sustainable land and soil management. They reaffirmed their resolve to take coordinated action nationally, regionally and internationally, to monitor, globally, land degradation and restore degraded lands in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. Most importantly, the world leaders agreed "to strive to achieve a land-degradation neutral world in the context of sustainable development".*
We want to find out from our stakeholders, what this Rio+20 outcome means to you and what next steps should be undertaken to achieve a land-degradation neutral world. Here are the first impressions:
I welcome the adoption by the world leaders of the need to achieve a land-degradation neutral world, in line with the EU’s ambitions for Rio+20. This sets a clear challenge for us to ensure, for example, less erosion and keeping soil organic matter levels, both very important in terms of soil fertility; tackling peatland drainage, because it alters fragile ecosystems such as wetlands and because it disproportionately contributes to climate change; and containing urban sprawl, which very often happens at the expense of the most fertile soils. I want to follow up Rio with firm action so that the momentum for protecting the earth's land and soils becomes unstoppable and a key element of the world's environmental agenda. Janez Potočnik, EU Environment Commissioner.
This new global goal is a very encouraging development, and the UNCCD should be proud that it has been enshrined in the Rio + 20 declaration. I believe that it clears the way for a forward-looking, science-based approach to championing vigorous action throughout the world to regenerate land and soils, and to developing and implementing a sound assessment system for tracking progress. A land degradation neutral world is entirely possible. Rallying the positive energy to achieve it is now our mutual challenge. Dennis Garrity, UNCCD Drylands Ambassador and Distinguished Board Research Fellow, World Agroforestry Centre
Because DLDD is so closely linked to food security and poverty eradication – major focuses of the sustainable development paradigm and the MDGs; and because UNCCD at Rio+20 has reaffirmed to coordinate action nationally, regionally and internationally, it is a practicable and reachable goal. Agriculture- based economies have a stake to formulate policies, allot more finances to make the farm sector viable. However, the 2013 Sustainable Development Goals need incorporate that chemical fertilizer and pesticide as well as commercialized seeds be slowly replaced by organic and localized/ traditional seeds and practices. Much wider dissemination and sharing of success stories, practices and technologies combating DLDD - already happening - is called for. Manipadma Jena, Environmental journalist from India
Reversing soil loss is critical to achieving food security. Quality top soils with high levels of organic matter are essential to achieve good crops and for high biodiversity eco-systems. Growing as much biomass as possible is the key to restoring soils. Marginal areas need to be revegetated and agricultural lands need to have organic matter continuously recycled into the soil with composts and green manures to restore the original organic matter levels and to capture and store rain water. Andre Leu, President of the International Foundation for Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)
I believe that the world community has understood that it is extremely urgent to stop the global process of land degradation. Calculation of the value derived from land based ecosystem services and a monetarization of the loss caused by land degradation for human society could be used as strong arguments in upcoming discussion with decision makers.
Mark Schauer, GIZ, Secretariat "Economics of Land Degradation Initiative"
I think this outcome is very important for the UNCCD future and for all of us, who care for the fate of people, living in the drylands and other regions affected by land degradation, desertification and drought. The Rio+20 document gives us
a basis for our action aiming at monitoring, preserving and restoring degraded lands and water. It also emphasizes the role of cooperation and partnerships for sustainable development. We and especially scientific community need to mobilize all resources all resources to foster sustainable land management practices and restoration of degraded lands at the national, regional and global levels. The good news is that there are already good practices in different parts of the world, such as in Brazil, which can be replicated elsewhere. Prof. Antonio Magalhaes, Chair of UNCCD Committee on Science and Technology, Brazil.
Land degradation neutrality may be a worthy global goal, but it is one that risks being extremely disconnected from the realities of farmers around the world. To achieve real reversals in land degradation requires a much better understanding of the management strategies that promote soil formation and a much deeper respect for the local conditions under which land users operate. However, a global goal may pave the way for governments to promote more healthy land use strategies, based on improved insights into ecosystem function, over less sustainable practices. Jonathan Davies, Coordinator of Global Drylands Initiative, IUCN
Land-degradation neutrality has a double meaning. First, we need to stop erosion and loss of soil fertility wherever possible, to achieve zero-degradation. Then, compensate in each country the annual losses recorded by the equivalent of rehabilitations, reaching a zero balance. Each affected country party should include land-degradation neutrality and rehabilitation in its national action plan, with its various components: public actions at national, regional and municipal dimension, and local private actions. All major investors in agricultural land should be required to protect and rehabilitate land and pay an annual allowance of environmental protection to the host country. Finally, UNCCD needs to catch up, and display three maps at each COP: the degraded areas, the quantitative and localized objectives and the achieved progress. Christian Houdus, Evaluation and Capitalization Director, Eau Vive
The world leaders' agreement to 'strive to achieve a land-degradation neutral world' marks a historic step. The vital role of soil in preserving and nurturing life has at last been given due recognition after what appeared to be an uphill diplomatic battle. Sincerity and determination are required so that intentions embodied in the five paragraphs (205-209) on DLLD in the outcome document become a reality, All the three Rio conventions need to work closely to harness the intrinsic synergies. National and international efforts should be closely coordinated. DLLD needs to be treated in par with climate change and hence provided adequate funds to support necessary actions. No dithering, no excuses, please! Ramesh Jaura, Global Editor IDN-InDepthNews & Executive President Global Cooperation Council
Soils are the basis for life on earth. Yet, they have been taken for granted for too long. Over the last decades around one third of the worlds arable land has been prone to degradation due to misuse and mismanagement. At Rio+20 the world community finally realized that land and soil protection is essential to safeguard mankind’s future. Reaching a land and soil degradation neutral world until 2025-2030 is possible. Numerous methods and technologies to prevent soil degradation and to restore degraded soils are already available. What we need now is a coordinated global science, policy and legal approach in order to transfer this knowledge into bold action. The German Federal Environment Agency is ready to make a contribution to this end.
Jochen Flashbarth, President German Federal Environment Agency
The Rio commitment is very vague and should have been stronger. It needs to be underpinned by changes in agriculture and forestry, the main drivers of land degradation. The upcoming Sustainable Development Goals negotiations are a perfect opportunity to build on the Rio declaration and make this commitment more concrete and make agriculture and forestry more sustainable. Jürgen Maier Forum Umwelt & Entwicklung
Although the goal of a land degradation neutral future would necessitate concerted efforts to conserve and restore land, I am not convinced that a land degradation neutral world is the "future we want". In our dreams for the future, should we not strive to improve the current status of degraded lands with the aim of creating a future when our soils are more fertile then they are today? Yes this goal is ambitious and extremely challenging to achieve, but a dream is a dream, and I would hope that our dreams for the future will extend beyond our current capacity, to imagine a future more beautiful then the world we live in today. Though this goal may seem intangible, I encourage all of those working towards rebuilding the world's soils to hold onto the dream of creating healthier ecosystems.
Sasha Kramer, Ph.D, Co-founder and Executive Director of SOIL (Haiti)
Winner of the Land for Life Award
To address global insecurity through land degradation is to use the positive intimidation strategy of faith-based approach and economic motivation, especially in developing economy like Nigeria, we have used the platform of religious Leaders to promote the cultivation of Moringa Oleifera.
Pastor Dr James Movel Wuye Co-Executive Director Interfaith Mediation Centre Nigeria
It is high time and of upmost political importance to address the vital role of soils and of sustainable land management for a fair and sustainable future.However, it is essential to closely link the debate on land degradation to the fundamental questions of the global agriculture production systems and consumption patterns of food and other agricultural products. With respect to a 'land degradation neutral world' we need a lively debate on an agriculture policy which respects all planetary boundaries as well as the human rights framework. The UNCCD provides guidance for these aims but a clear political will is needed for successful implementation.
Barbara Unmüßig, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung e.V.