Nearly 1 billion people do not have enough food to eat or access to clean water. Many are living directly off degraded land. The objective of a Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) is to maintain or improve the condition of our land resources. This can be achieved through the sustainable management of our soil, water and biodiversity in order to fully realize their economic, social and environmental benefits, the key dimensions of sustainable development. LDN also includes the restoration of degraded natural ecosystems that provide vital services to people and working landscapes.
LDN was born out of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) where Member States “recognized the need for urgent action to reverse land degradation. In view of this, we will strive to achieve a land-degradation-neutral world in the context of sustainable development.” At Rio+20, world leaders agreed that natural capital and in particular land resources are the foundation of our society and economic growth. It was this vision that guided the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to be ratified by the UN General Assembly on 25-27 September 2015, particularly:
Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
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,
With a global consensus on the need to reverse land degradation, a LDN target within the SDG framework provides a practical way forward. In anticipation of the LDN target, the UNCCD established an Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) to develop concrete options for achieving such a target
– one aimed at preventing and reversing land degradation through good land management and ecosystem restoration. In addition, with the generous support of the Republic of Korea, the UNCCD launched the LDN project
which aims to assist countries as they adopt their own national voluntary target to achieve LDN, and report to the COP every two years on implementation of the national programme and the progress made towards the LDN target.
Securing healthy and productive land will dramatically reduce poverty, ensure food and water security and improve the living conditions of countless people around the world. Our future depends on the land and its resources.