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Sparking global land restoration in communities

Learning from Brazil’s innovative model to reverse desertification in Caatinga Brazil’s vast rainforest, rich in biodiversity, has captured the imagination of people around the world and attracted large-scale financing from donors committed to preserving this unique ecosystem. But what about the other, lesser-known or naturally endowed biomes?  The Caatinga drylands occupy 11 percent of the country, an area about 100 million hectares in the northeast of Brazil. It is home to over 34 million people. Preserving the unique resources in this region is vital because drylands are highly susceptible to land degradation. In 2016, Brazil established the Recovery Units of Degraded Areas and Reduction of Climate Vulnerability (URAD) initiative to address the main drivers of land degradation in the Caatinga. The project, which in the long run will be financed from the moneys generated by domestic environmental fines, received a start-up funding of USD$1 million from Brazil’s Climate Fund and US$9 million from the international community. Under the program, a recovery area is defined by its watershed. The local communities are mobilized to restore their watershed. They get support in the form of resources and training needed. The start-up cost per family for carrying out a watershed recovery is estimated at US$ 8,000. About 30 to 40 families take part in each project. The first activities aim to produce highly tangible results, such as restoring a water source. Direct results are they key to keeping the enthusiasm among community members going and to motivating them to take further actions. The first URAD community-level interventions were completed in half the estimated time. In turn, local people started to have confidence in government projects. The interest to get involved and enthusiasm in the projects grew and spread throughout other communities. But the watershed recovery project is rooted in more than providing direct benefits to communities. The participation of local communities is a guiding principle. Studies show that environmental actions that reduce the population's climate vulnerability are more likely to succeed when they involve local communities in decision-making to create sustainable value chains, generate employment and improve the quality of life. The URAD watershed recovery initiative is also founded and fully integrated in a sustainability model. The environmental, social and economic interventions are taken seriously with specific results targeted. For URAD, environmental actions aim to conserve soil, recover spring water, preserve biodiversity and improve the conditions for food production. Social actions focus on meeting the water, energy and sanitary security of the communities. Beekeeping and integrated crop-livestock-forest systems are examples of the sustainable activities being encouraged to meet livelihood needs – the economic side. The project is also designed to generate short-, medium and long-term needs. This is essential in project planning because political leaders, who are the main decision-makers, often mostly care about and invest depending on the short-term political gains or losses of what they do. Communities, on the other hand, are more willing to invest in actions that change their lives for the long haul. URAD’s short term goals were to recover water sources, contain soil erosion, reduce land degradation, mitigate the effects of drought and cut down soil and water pollution. In the medium-term, the productive capacity of the soil would recover, and help Brazil to fulfil its commitment to achieve land degradation neutrality. The conservation of the Caatinga is expected to improve the quality of life for the local people year by year, and reduce forced migration to urban areas. In the long-term term, the communities and their lands, plants, animals and natural resources are expected to adapt or become resilient to climate-change and it’s impacts. Brazil invests in the drylands because the URAD strategy has the potential to transform the reality for thousands of rural communities. With community-owned successes at the core of each intervention, the new model to reverse desertification has every chance to succeed. Learn More: Brazil sets up a novel model to reverse desertification

Sparking global land restoration in communities
The business case for regenerative land use

Currently, one in every five hectares of land on Earth is unusable and by 2050 only 10% of land could be healthy Businesses are failing to help protect the resources of healthy ecosystems they depend upon such as land for farming The good news is that initiatives like The Great Green Wall are proving that action can be taken now to reverse land degradation By 2050, 90 per cent of land could become degraded. How can businesses help restore the resources they depend upon? Land restoration, with a ballpark cost of $500 per hectare, is one of the most cost-effective ways to combat business risks. Restoring just 350 million hectares of degraded land could, by 2030, remove greenhouse gases roughly equal to half the world’s annual emissions from the atmosphere. Restoring land can earn an extra $1.4 trillion in agricultural production every year. Focusing on regenerative land use is an opportunity to safeguard businesses from the impacts of climate change and land degradation. Restoring ecosystems and soil biodiversity is among the most effective weapons against weather extremes. Restoring land can create employment and help a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. In the US, first movers have demonstrated that under certain conditions, farms with regenerative practices are an estimated 78% more profitable than those using conventional practices. Read the latest blog by the UNCCD Executive Secretary Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw for the World Economic Forum: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/01/how-businesses-can-help-restore-land-resources/ Read more: The Great Green Wall initiative Achieving Land Degradation Neutrality UNCCD science-policy blog

The business case for regenerative land use
Sustainable alternatives to tobacco growing for health and land

As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, one fact has never been more evident – our world, our planet and our lives are inextricably interconnected. There are very few issues that can be considered simply “health problems,” as nearly every aspect of life is connected to other societal, economic and environmental issues. While we recognize the negative impact of tobacco on our health, we tend to think less frequently about the economic impact of tobacco use on health costs and productivity losses. What is even less well known is how tremendously destructive tobacco cultivation and tobacco use is for the environment – on land, water and air.

Sustainable alternatives to tobacco growing for health and land
Sahel the most resilient place to global warming in the future?

There is growing evidence of regreening in the Sahel. It is widespread. It cuts across the entire area, and it’s dynamic. In fact, almost all of West Africa is experiencing this regreening that is considered the ultimate weapon in the fight against global warming. Sahelians also growing valuable trees that act as natural air conditioners, provide food and ertilize the land in the Sahel in ways that could be making a difference to resilience that is far better than elsewhere in the world.

Sahel the most resilient place to global warming in the future?
Why and how land health can prevent a future global pandemic

January 2021 marked a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, with over two million people dead. Since the new strain of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) emerged on the global stage in early 2020, an historical and unprecedented effort has been deployed to quell this global health crisis. As we settle into a new year with increased optimism following the successful development of vaccines against COVID-19, we are turning our sights toward the future, with critical policy questions in mind.

Why and how land health can prevent a future global pandemic
Chefs advocating for a change in our food systems to improve soil health

When populations experience economic growth, their appetite for more food and more resource intensive food grows. While this is welcomed in many parts of the world in which communities suffer malnutrition and hunger, the gap between the haves and have nots is growing. The Chefs’ Manifesto is championing a better food future, inspiring people to make changes in their kitchens and communities and empowering them to call on governments and companies to play their part.

Chefs advocating for a change in our food systems to improve soil health