Good stewardship of the land is vital to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and to help the global community stay on track to meet the Paris Agreement targets. UNCCD’s goal is to make land-based ecosystems and communities more resilient and better able to adapt to the effects of global heating.
A stark 2019 IPCC special report on climate change and the land lays bare the problems. Human activities directly influence some 70 percent of the world’s ice-free land. Population growth and increases in resource consumption are causing unprecedented levels of human-induced land degradation. There are already indications that some important carbon sink regions – like the Amazon rainforest – are becoming net emitters of carbon as land degradation advances.
New findings from IPCC and IPBES reinforce the vital role of healthy land in protecting livelihoods, climate and biodiversity. Positive changes to the way we use land have enormous potential to help the world reach net zero. Changes to agricultural and resource extraction practices must be founded in sustainable land management (SLM) and land restoration techniques.
Restoring degraded land globally could lock away three billion tonnes of atmospheric carbon into the soil every year – offsetting around ten percent of the world’s current annual energy-related emissions. Overall, actions to avoid, reduce and reverse land degradation can provide over one-third of the climate mitigation needed to keep global warming under 2° by 2030.
Such actions – and the resultant healthy land – can provide positive and lasting contributions toward societal well-being and sustainability, like food security, employment, disaster risk reduction, ecological benefits, and improved public health. Already, UNCCD countries have pledged over 450 million hectares – and counting – of land to be restored by 2030. Over 250 million hectares of these pledges are farmland.
If we can achieve this ambitious target, we will ensure land degradation neutrality plays a fundamental role in addressing climate change and delivering a 21st century in which all of humanity can thrive.
billion tons of carbon could be stored annually if degraded ecosystems were restored
million hectares of land have already been pledged by UNCCD countries to be restored by 2030