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From potatoes grown in recycled sacks to “more crop per drop” fruit tree varieties, climate-smart and women-led agriculture initiatives became the center of discussions at a recent interregional conference convened by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Fertile land is a precious commodity in Tajikistan, where 90% of the country's territory is covered by mountains and 60% of the population directly depend on agriculture for livelihood. Agriculture is a major part of Tajikistan’s economy. Can you spot the colors of one of its best-loved crops in the stripes of the national flag? As heatwaves, droughts and other extreme climate events become more frequent and severe across the globe, regional cooperation and knowledge sharing are becoming a priority in building drought resilience and fighting land degradation. In response to these growing challenges, representatives of Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan met in Dushanbe, Tajikistan from 1-2 July 2023 to discuss upscaling and coordinating legislative, educational, scientific and technical cooperation aimed at achieving Land Degradation Neutrality. Water is so precious in Central Asia, some say it’s worth more than gold. Burrowing deep into the soil, this well in the Gissar Valley carries water that contains trace amounts of the precious metal “Though we come from different climates and landscapes, we are united in the face of climate-induced drought and land degradation. Women who develop and test climate-smart and cost-effective solutions locally should be the ones spearheading regional and global efforts to grow and protect our food in the times of climactic stress,” participants stated. Reflecting the theme of this year's Desertification and Drought Day “Her Land. Her Rights”, discussions centered on the key role of civil society organizations, particularly those led by women, in harnessing donor financing and advancing legislative action in support of gender-responsive land restoration projects that provide sustainable rural livelihoods. Apples are the most popular fruit worldwide, and so are new ways to grow them more efficiently After attending a training series at the Youth Ecological Center in Dushanbe, Mavluda Akhmedova is using the technology of growing potatoes directly in recycled sacks on her homestead in the Dekhanabod village. This approach has proven particularly effective as more frequent and sudden heatwaves and droughts in Tajikistan raise the risk of harvest loss. Growing potatoes in sacks lets the farmers control the temperature and humidity better and is of particular use on small plots where growing space is at a premium. Greenhouses at the Agricultural University in Dushanbe use the latest technology, encouraging the students to test new approaches to efficient and sustainable crop production During a visit to an experimental farm in the Gissar District, participants learned how students from Agricultural University in Dushanbe test classroom knowledge to implement the “more crop per drop” approach on their 800 hectares under tillage, including a fruit orchard, a vineyard and pasture. Nothing tastes better than bread fresh from the oven! Farm-to-table is the way of life at the experimental farm of the Agricultural University of Dushanbe The university hopes that new investments and focus on research, smart tech and innovation will bring more female students to the classrooms and labs. Using compact varieties of fruit trees combined with drip irrigation means less water, less labour and less land are needed to produce comparable crop yields By the end of 2023, Tajikistan intends to complete the process of joining the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Target-setting programme, bringing the number of countries who set voluntary LDN targets to 130, including all Central Asian nations. Furthermore, participation in the World Bank’s RESILAND CA+ Initiative will allow Tajikistan to access the knowledge base of other engaged countries – Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan – and train forest management and rangelands biodiversity specialists. Women are expected to become the majority of RESILAND CA+ projects’ participants and beneficiaries. Photography by Didor Sadulloev via UNDP Tajikistan
Healthy food, healthy climate, healthy planet: they are all impossible without healthy soil. Soil is literally the foundation of human wellbeing on this planet. That’s why on World Soil Day we celebrate this precious and precarious layer of life-giving substance. Almost 99% of our calories come from land. So we can say soil is where our food begins. It can take up to a thousand years to produce just one inch of soil. But it only takes moments to destroy it – through flash floods or sand and dust storms that strip our fertile topsoil. Every five seconds, the equivalent of one soccer field is eroded. We must urgently change the way we care for our land and the way we feed our world of eight billion people. Diversifying cropping system, no-till farming, replacing chemical fertilizers and pesticides with organic alternatives are just some solutions that can lead to healthier soils and more nutritious foods. Beyond food, soil is a mighty ally in mitigating and adapting to climate change. More organic carbon can be stored in the soil than in vegetation and atmosphere combined. Restoring degraded land makes it a powerful carbon sink. Finally, the world’s soils are teeming with biodiversity: they are home to one trillion times more bacteria than there are stars in the universe! Fungi is an essential part of healthy soil. It breaks down organic matter so that nutrients become available for plants. And then there are over 2,700 species of earthworms. These vital but under-appreciated creatures keep our soil alive and fertile. This World Soil Day and every day, let’s celebrate our soil, let’s cherish our soil, let’s save our soil. Thank you.
Fertile soil is a vital resource of livelihoods, prosperity and human well-being for millions across the Central Asia region. At the same time, desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD), spurred on by climate change, pose a growing threat to soil health across the region. Around 1/3 of the region's land area is degraded, one of the highest rates in the world, according to UNCCD data. In his World Soil Day message Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw remarked that “soil is literally the foundation of human wellbeing on this planet. That’s why on World Soil Day we celebrate this precious and precarious layer of life-giving substance.” To highlight the urgency of preserving and restoring soil for a food-secure future, Kazakhstan, with the support of the FAO country office, marked this year’s World Soil Day by holding a yearly scientific conference with government representatives, scientists, journalists and industry on key issues of sustainable soil management. In his opening remarks, Baglhan Bekbauov, Vice Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan, reflected that “Land resources are of exceptional importance for the livelihood, prosperity, well-being (…) and the way of life of both our contemporaries and our future generations.” In her presentation, the UNCCD RLO for CEE Nadezda Dementieva underscored the urgent need to combat land degradation, raising political momentum to activate the land restoration agenda at global, regional and national levels. She also presented the UNCCD´s flagship publication, the 2nd edition of the Global Land Outlook, which focuses on diverse pathways that countries and communities can adopt to reverse land degradation through fit-to-purpose land restoration agendas. Kazakhstan´s active engagement in the World Soil Day activities reflects the importance UNCCD places on combatting desertification across the entire region. Recognizing the key role of achieving a neutral balance of land degradation to slow down DLDD, five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – have already joined the UNCCD Land Degradation Neutrality Programme, striving to reach no net loss of healthy and productive land. Uzbekistan also holds the distinction of being the first Central Asian country to host an official UNCCD conference, the 21st session of the UNCCD Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC21) in Samarkand from 9 to 13 October 2023.
At the start of the new academic year, the United Nations Regional Information Centre in Bonn together with UNCCD, hosted a group of graduate students from Côte d’Ivoire, Germany and Kenya to discuss the Convention’s work on combating drought and desertification and the role of science in supporting good land stewardship. Two dozen students who visited UN Bonn are a part of the programme launched by the German Center for Development Research (ZEF) in 2021, together with the Universities of Cologne, Abidjan and Nairobi as part of the new DAAD Global Environment and Climate Center Initiative. The African Climate and Environment Center – Future African Savannas (AFAS), research programme focuses on nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation in African savannas. Addressing the students, UNCCD Lead Scientist Dr. Barron Joseph Orr stressed the urgency of bringing degraded lands back to health at a time when humanity has already exceeded four of the nine planetary boundaries which define our “safe operating space” – climate change, biodiversity loss, land use change and geochemical cycles, according to the recently published 2nd edition of UNCCD Global Land Outlook. Integrated land use planning that helps anticipate potential land degradation, navigate trade-offs and deliver on multiple Sustainable Development Goals is at the core of the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) concept. Developed by the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface (SPI), it provides a strong scientific foundation that supports UNCCD Parties’ work in land restoration. UNCCD Knowledge Management Officer Mr. Jeroen van Dalen explained the structure of the SPI that brings together scientists from various regions, policy makers, practitioners and civil society leaders to research a specific topic such as LDN and provide informed policy recommendations for the country Parties of the convention. Some of the visiting students who come from farming communities in Africa have witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of drought and land degradation on the rangelands and their inhabitants. Many questions from the students have been focused on UNCCD support for land restoration initiatives that benefit local communities. The students also wanted to know how youth can be engaged in UNCCD’s work. The UNCCD Communications Chief Ms. Xenya Scanlon highlighted the Convention’s work with Land Heroes and other young activists, as well as youth-led civil society organizations, inviting the students to get involved in the UNCCD Youth Caucus.
Nearly 670 million people will still be facing hunger in 2030 – 8 percent of the world population. This is equivalent to the population facing hunger in 2015 when Agenda 2030 was launched. What’s more, access to food is not necessarily leading to healthier eating, mainly because food and agricultural policies are not aligned with delivering healthy food. Governments need to repurpose food and agricultural policies to make healthy diets affordable. This is the conclusion of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022 (SOFI 2022) Report released Tuesday, 5 July 2022, by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). SOFI is published every year to track progress towards reaching the 2030 sustainable development goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms. The latest report presents an update on the situation of hunger and malnutrition around the world. Globally, between 720 million and 828 million people faced hunger in 2021, about 150 million more people since COVID-19 broke out. The last report identified conflict, climate extremes and economic shocks as the key drivers of hunger and malnutrition. To these, SOFI 2022 adds policies that lead to inequality. Policies are no longer having a significant effect in reducing hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms, SOFI 2022 states. And in fragile economies, there are constraints to using financial policies to transform agrifood systems. For instance, all over the world, financial support is directed mainly to produce staple foods, such as rice, sugar and meat, not fruits and vegetables. As a result, fruits and vegetables are more expensive and unaffordable. Moreover, food and agricultural policies are not aligned with the promotion of healthy diets. Further, the war in Ukraine is affecting supply chains, in turn raising the costs of fertilizer, energy, and food, such as grains, especially in the first half of 2022. Considering the unfolding challenging economic situation globally, the report states that public-private partnerships are needed to boost investment. However, partnerships require the support of a robust governance system to ensure vulnerable communities benefit, and not powerful industry players. The second edition of the Global Land Outlook (GLO2) released in April 2022 also calls attention to the issue of food insecurity. It spotlights the impacts of modern agriculture on food systems that alter the land and the impacts of globalizing food systems. Global food systems are responsible for 80% of deforestation, 70% of freshwater use, and the single greatest cause of terrestrial biodiversity loss. The disconnect between where food is produced and consumed is key. In the past, local consumption led to land degradation. Behind this rapid land use change today are the demand for food internationally and for urban communities. GLO2 urges the international community to re-think its global food systems. It calls for a turn to the sustainable management of the land, which experience shows can “both improve the productivity of the land and reduce the cost of food production.” The international community has committed to restore one billion hectares of land by 2030, an area the size of the United States or China. GLO2 points to hundreds of practical ways to carry out the desired ecosystem restoration at local, national and regional levels. This year’s SOFI report is a joint initiative of the FAO, International Food and Agriculture Development (IFAD), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The brief and full reports are now available online.
Up to 40 % of the planet’s land is degraded, directly affects half of humanity, threatens roughly half of global GDP (US$44 trillion) If business as usual continued through 2050, report projects additional degradation of an area almost the size of South America Nations’ current pledge to restore 1 billion degraded hectares by 2030 requires $US 1.6 trillion this decade – a fraction of annual $700 billion in fossil fuel and agricultural subsidies As food prices soar amid rapid climate and other planetary changes, “crisis footing” needed to conserve, restore and use land sustainably Most comprehensive report on topic ever released shortly before UNCCD’s COP15 in Africa The way land resources – soil, water and biodiversity – are currently mismanaged and misused threatens the health and continued survival of many species on Earth, including our own, warns a stark new report from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). It also points decision makers to hundreds of practical ways to effect local, national and regional land and ecosystem restoration. UNCCD’s evidence-based flagship Global Land Outlook 2 (GLO2) report, five years in development with 21 partner organizations, and with over 1,000 references, is the most comprehensive consolidation of information on the topic ever assembled. It offers an overview of unprecedented breadth and projects the planetary consequences of three scenarios through 2050: business as usual, restoration of 50 million square km of land, and restoration measures augmented by the conservation of natural areas important for specific ecosystem functions. It also assesses the potential contributions of land restoration investments to climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, human health and other key sustainable development goals. Warns the report: “At no other point in modern history has humanity faced such an array of familiar and unfamiliar risks and hazards, interacting in a hyper-connected and rapidly changing world. We cannot afford to underestimate the scale and impact of these existential threats.” “Conserving, restoring, and using our land resources sustainably is a global imperative, one that requires action on a crisis footing…Business as usual is not a viable pathway for our continued survival and prosperity.” GLO2 offers hundreds of examples from around the world that demonstrate the potential of land restoration. It is being released before the UNCCD’s 15th session of the Conference of Parties to be held in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire (COP15, 9-20 May). Says Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD: “Modern agriculture has altered the face of the planet more than any other human activity. We need to urgently rethink our global food systems, which are responsible for 80% of deforestation, 70% of freshwater use, and the single greatest cause of terrestrial biodiversity loss.” “Investing in large-scale land restoration is a powerful, cost-effective tool to combat desertification, soil erosion, and loss of agricultural production. As a finite resource and our most valuable natural asset, we cannot afford to continue taking land for granted.” Future scenarios The report predicts the outcomes by 2050 and risks involved under three scenarios: Baseline: Business as usual, continuing current trends in land and natural resource degradation, while demands for food, feed, fiber, and bioenergy continue to rise. Land management practices and climate change continue to cause widespread soil erosion, declining fertility and growth in yields, and the further loss of natural areas due to expanding agriculture. By 2050: 16 million square kilometers show continued land degradation (the size of South America) A persistent, long-term decline in vegetative productivity is observed for 12-14% of agricultural, pasture and grazing land, and natural areas – with sub-Saharan Africa worst affected. An additional 69 gigatonnes of carbon is emitted from 2015 to 2050 due to land use change and soil degradation This represents 17% of current annual greenhouse gas emissions: soil organic carbon (32 gigatonnes), vegetation (27 gigatonnes), peatland degradation/conversion (10 gigatonnes). Restoration: Assumes the restoration of around 5 billion hectares (50 million square kilometers or 35% of the global land area) using measures such as agroforestry, grazing management, and assisted natural regeneration. (Current international pledges: 10 million square kilometers). By 2050: Crop yields increase by 5-10% in most developing countries compared to the baseline. Improved soil health leads to higher crop yields, with the largest gains in the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, and subSaharan Africa, limiting food price increases. Soil water holding capacity would increase by 4% in rainfed croplands. Carbon stocks rise by a net 17 gigatonnes between 2015 and 2050 due to gains in soil carbon and reduced emission Biodiversity continues to decline, but not as quickly, with 11% of biodiversity loss averted. Restoration and Protection: This scenario includes the restoration measures, augmented with protection measures of areas important for biodiversity, water regulation, conservation of soil and carbon stocks, and provision of critical ecosystem functions. By 2050: An additional 4 million square kilometers of natural areas (the size of India and Pakistan); largest gains expected in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America. Protections would prevent land degradation by logging, burning, draining, or conversion. About a third of the biodiversity loss projected in the baseline would be prevented An additional 83 gigatonnes of carbon are stored compared to the baseline. Avoided emission and increased carbon storage would be equivalent to more than seven years of total current global emissions. See below for additional scenario projections and information Other key points in the report include: $US 44 trillion – roughly half the world’s annual economic output – is being put at risk by the loss of finite natural capital and nature’s services, which underpin human and environmental health by regulating climate, water, disease, pests, waste and air pollution, while providing numerous other benefits such as recreation and cultural benefits. The economic returns of restoring land and reducing degradation, greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss could be as high as $US 125-140 trillion every year - up to 50% more than the $93 trillion global GDP in 2021 Repurposing in the next decade just $US 1.6 trillion of the annual $700 billion in perverse subsidies given to the fossil fuel and agricultural industries would enable governments to meet current pledges to restore by 2030 some 1 billion degraded hectares – an area the size of the USA or China – including 250 million hectares of farmland Restoring land, soils, forests and other ecosystems would contribute more than one-third of the cost-effective climate change mitigation needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C while supporting biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, human health and other key sustainable development goals Many traditional and modern regenerative food production practices can enable agriculture to pivot from being the primary cause of degradation to the principal catalyst for land and soil restoration Poor rural communities, smallholder farmers, women, youth, Indigenous Peoples, and other at-risk groups are disproportionately affected by desertification, land degradation, and drought. At the same time, traditional and local knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, proven land stewards, represent a vast store of human and social capital that must be respected and can be used to protect and restore natural capital Immediate financial support is needed to fund conservation and restoration in those developing countries with a greater share of the global distribution of intact, biodiverse, and carbon-rich ecosystems Restoration projects and programs tend to have long-term multiplier effects that strengthen rural economies and contribute to wider regional development. They generate jobs that cannot be outsourced, and investments stimulate demand that benefits local economies and communities Bringing together national action plans currently siloed under the UNCCD, Convention on Biological Diversity, and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change represents an immediate opportunity to align targets and commitments to implement land restoration, realize multiple benefits, and maximize returns on investment Land and resource rights, secured through enforceable laws and trusted institutions, can transform underperforming land assets into sustainable development opportunities, helping maintain equitable and cohesive societies Inclusive and responsible land governance, including tenure security, is an effective way to balance trade-offs and harness synergies that optimize restoration outcomes Grasslands and savannas are productive, biodiverse ecosystems that match forests both in their global extent and their need for protection and restoration. Equally important are wetlands, which are in long-term decline averaging losses at three times the rate of global forest loss in recent decades. Sustaining their capacity to absorb and store carbon is key to a climate-resilient future Intensive monocultures and the destruction of forests and other ecosystems for food and commodity production generate the bulk of carbon emissions associated with land use change If current land degradation trends continue, food supply disruptions, forced migration, rapid biodiversity loss and species extinctions will increase, accompanied by a higher risk of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19, declining human health, and land resource conflicts GLO2 offers hundreds of good practice snapshots from around the world that illustrate context-specific measures to combat environmental degradation, restore land health, and improve living conditions. Many regenerative agriculture practices have the potential to increase crop yields and improve their nutritional quality while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and drawing down carbon from the atmosphere, it says. Examples include rewilding – reducing the human footprint to allow natural ecological processes to re-establish themselves – in the Greater Côa Valley in northern Portugal and the Iberá wetlands in Argentina; drought preparedness and risk reduction through national programmes in Mexico, the USA, and Brazil; sand and dust storm source mitigation in Iraq, China, and Kuwait; and gender-responsive land restoration in Mali, Nicauragua, and Jordan. There are also cases of integrated flood and drought strategies as well as forest landscape restoration using high-value crops. Good practices can involve terrace and contour farming, conserving and restoring watersheds, and rainwater harvesting and storage. In addition to their economic benefits, these measures improve water retention and availability, prevent soil erosion and landslides, reduce flood risk, sequester carbon, and protect biodiversity habitat. Africa’s Great Green Wall, meanwhile, which aims to restore the continent’s degraded landscapes, exemplifies “a regional restoration initiative that embraces an integrated approach with the promise of transforming the lives of millions of people,” says the report. “The case studies from around the world showcased in GLO2 make clear that land restoration can be implemented in almost all settings and at many spatial scales, suggesting that every country can design and implement a tailored land restoration agenda to meet their development needs,” says Mr. Thiaw. Many of the cases, he adds, underscore the value of education, training, and capacity building, not just for local communities, but also for government officials, land managers, and development planners. Linking local engagement to national policies and budgets will help ensure a responsive and well-aligned restoration agenda that delivers tangible outcomes for people, nature, and the climate. Preventing, halting, and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide is the focus of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), which calls for a broad and balanced response, addressing all ecosystems and their connectivity to reestablish a healthy landscape mosaic. These efforts are closely aligned with SDG target 15.3, which calls on countries to strive to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by 2030. “Hope remains as the decade of restoration has begun,” says Mr. Thiaw. “Now is the time to harness political will, innovation, and collective action to restore our land and soil for short-term recovery and long-term regeneration to ensure a more stable and resilient future.” By the numbers, GLO2: 50%: Proportion of humanity affected by land degradation $US 7-30: benefits returned for every dollar invested in restoring degraded land Four: planetary boundaries (used to define a ‘safe operating space for humanity’) already exceeded: climate change, biodiversity loss, land use change, and geochemical cycles, breaches directly linked to human-induced desertification, land degradation, and drought 40%+: global land area occupied by agriculture 15%: proportion of the $US 700 billion paid out in commercial subsidies each year that positively impact natural capital, biodiversity, long-term job stability, or livelihoods 70%+: Tropical forest cleared for agriculture between 2013 and 2019 in violation of national laws or regulations 1%: Farms that control more than 70% of the world’s agricultural land 80%: Farms smaller than two hectares, representing 12% of total farmland 50%: Reduction of degraded land by 2040 pledged by G20 leaders in November 2020 115+: countries that had made quantitative, area-based commitments by the end of 2021, collectively a pledge to restore 1 billion hectares of farms, forests, and pastures 100+: Countries with plans for Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by 2030: ‘frameworks for action’ by local and national authorities, civil society, and the private sector 130: Countries that reaffirmed in the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use (Nov. 2021) their respective individual and collective commitments under the three Rio Conventions – on Desertification (UNCCD), Biological Diversity (CBD), and Climate Change (UNFCCC), supported by unprecedented corporate and donor pledges. It also includes commitments to facilitate trade and development policies that avoid deforestation and land degradation, especially regarding internationally-traded agricultural commodities, such as beef, soy, palm oil, and timber. Land degradation: The persistent or long-term loss of land-based natural capital. It gives rise to poverty, hunger, and environmental pollution, while making communities more vulnerable to disease and disasters like drought, floods, or wildfires. This is especially true in the drylands that cover more than 45% of the Earth’s land surface, home to one in three people. Land restoration: A continuum of sustainable land and water management practices that can be applied to conserve or ‘rewild’ natural areas, ‘up-scale’ nature-positive food production in rural landscapes, and ‘green’ urban areas, infrastructure, and supply chains. Regenerative land use practices employed to boost soil health or recharge groundwater also enhance our ability to cope with drought, floods, wildfires, and sand and dust storms. Comments “The second edition of the Global Land Outlook is a must-read for the biodiversity community. The future of biodiversity is precarious. We have already degraded nearly 40 % and altered 70 % of the land. We cannot afford to have another “lost decade” for nature and need to act now for a future of life in harmony with nature. The GLO2 shows pathways, enablers and knowledge that we should apply to effectively implement the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.” Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary, UN Convention on Biological Diversity “Land is the operative link between biodiversity loss and climate change, and therefore must be the primary focus of any meaningful intervention to tackle these intertwined crises. Restoring degraded land and soil provides fertile ground on which to take immediate and concerted action.” Andrea Meza Murillo, Deputy Executive Secretary, UNCCD “As a global community we can no longer rely on incremental reforms within traditional planning and development frameworks to address the profound development and sustainability challenges we are facing in coming decades. A rapid transformation in land use and management practices that place people and nature at the center of our planning is needed, prioritizing job creation and building vital skill sets while giving voice to women and youth who have been traditionally marginalized from decision making.” Nichole Barger, report steering committee member, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, USA “Just as COVID-19 vaccines were developed, tested, and rolled out at unprecedented speed and scale, so too must land restoration and other nature-based solutions be undertaken to prevent further environmental decline and ensure a healthy and prosperous future. We can reduce the risk of zoonotic disease transmission, increase food and water security, and improve human health and livelihoods by managing, expanding, and connecting protected and natural areas, improving soil, crop, and livestock health in food systems, and creating green and blue spaces in and around cities.” Barron Orr, Lead Scientist, UNCCD “Restoring long term health and productivity in food landscapes is a top priority to ensure future sustainability. Much as an investor uses financial capital to generate profits, regenerating a forest or improving soil health provides returns in the form of a future supply of timber or food.” Louise Baker, Director, Global Mechanism, UNCCD “Indigenous Peoples and local communities are proven land stewards. The recognition of their rights and their involvement in the long-term management of their lands and of protected areas will be vital to success.” Miriam Medel, Chief, External Relations, Policy and Advocacy, UNCCD “By designing an innovative, customized land restoration agenda that suits their needs, capacities, and circumstances, countries and communities can recover lost natural resources and better prepare for climate change and other looming threats.” Johns Muleso Kharika, Chief, Science, Technology and Innovation, UNCCD GLO2: Baseline Scenario projections By 2050: 16 million square kilometers show continued land degradation (the size of South America) A persistent, long-term decline in vegetative productivity is observed for 12-14% of agricultural, pasture and grazing land, and natural areas – with sub-Saharan Africa worst affected. An additional 69 gigatonnes of carbon is emitted from 2015 to 2050 due to land use change and soil degradation This represents 17% of current annual greenhouse gas emissions: soil organic carbon (32 gigatonnes), vegetation (27 gigatonnes), peatland degradation/conversion (10 gigatonnes). A slowing in the growth of agricultural yields While agricultural yields are still projected to rise in all regions, land degradation will curb increases, especially in the Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. The loss of soil organic carbon and the soil’s ability to hold water and nutrients, such as phosphorus or nitrogen, will be primarily responsible for this slowing, while the associated risks of drought and water scarcity are expected to increase. The demand for food, expected to rise by 45% between 2015 and 2050, will have to be met by further intensification and expansion of agricultural land, resulting in the further loss of 3 million square kilometers of natural areas (the size of India), mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Other contemporary scenario analyses explicitly consider factors such as environmental governance, land distribution, and access to resources. Restoration Scenario projections The restoration scenario assumes that land restoration is done on a massive scale – across a potential 50 million square kilometers (5 billion hectares) with measures such as: Conservation agriculture (low- or no-till farming) Agroforestry and silvopasture (combining trees with crops, livestock, or both) Improved grazing management and grassland rehabilitation Forest plantations Assisted natural regeneration Cross-slope barriers to prevent soil erosion The restoration scenario envisions these measures applied to roughly 16 million square kilometers of cropland, 22 million of grazing land, and 14 million of natural areas. Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are estimated to have the largest areas with the potential for land restoration. Compared to the baseline scenario, restoration means by 2050: Crop yields increase by 5-10% in most developing countries compared to the baseline Improved soil health leads to higher crop yields, with the largest gains in the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, and subSaharan Africa, limiting food price increases. Soil water holding capacity would increase by 4% in rainfed croplands. Carbon stocks rise by a net 17 gigatonnes between 2015 and 2050 due to gains in soil carbon and reduced emissions. This is the balance of a net increase in soil organic carbon, increased carbon in agroforestry, and a continued loss of vegetation carbon due to land conversion. It does not account for the potential carbon storage gains above ground from forest restoration. Soil carbon stocks would be 55 gigatonnes larger in 2050 compared to the baseline, with the largest gains in Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Latin America, while the biggest losses would be avoided in sub-Saharan Africa. Slowed biodiversity decline and loss of natural areas. Globally, the extent of natural areas continues to decline due to the expansion of agricultural and urban areas, except in Latin America where natural areas are projected to increase by 3%. Biodiversity would continue to decline, but not as quickly, with 11% of biodiversity loss averted. Restoration and Protection Scenario projections This scenario includes the restoration measures, augmented with protection measures expanded to cover close to half of the Earth’s land surface by 2050 – a threefold increase on the current coverage. These protected areas are important for biodiversity, water regulation, conservation of soil and carbon stocks, and provision of critical ecosystem functions. However, significantly increasing the extent of protected land would limit the expansion of agriculture. Under this constraint, current yields would have to be 9% higher by 2050 than in the baseline scenario to meet expected demand. Nonetheless, food prices are projected to increase, particularly in South and Southeast Asia, where a scarcity of agricultural land is already impacting food security. Under this scenario, most of the new protected areas would have to be in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. When compared to the baseline, the restoration and protection scenario means by 2050: An additional 4 million square kilometers of natural areas (the size of India and Pakistan). With the largest gains expected in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America, protected areas would prevent land degradation by logging, burning, draining, or conversion. While biodiversity would continue to decline, about a third of the loss projected in the baseline would be prevented under restoration and protection measures. An additional 83 gigatonnes are stored compared to the baseline. Avoided emission and increased carbon storage would be equivalent to more than seven years of total current global emissions. Additional resources: The global potential for land restoration: Scenarios for the Global Land Outlook 2 https://www.pbl.nl/en/publications/the-global-potential-for-land-restoration-scenarios-for-the-global-landoutlook-2 Restoration Commitments and Scenarios Goals and Commitments for the Restoration Decade: A global overview of countries’ restoration commitments under the Rio Conventions and other pledges https://www.pbl.nl/en/publications/goals-and-commitments-for-the-restoration-decade Images, video (credit: UNCCD): High-resolution video of northern Kenya drought https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FOU5Z-F6Q9cQsXjKxtghC5zFDqX1XYS5/view?usp=sharing https://drive.google.com/file/d/1QNe57V1wCStw5kSLAebmYc0MYH2ZY3Dn/view?usp=sharing Photos and captions: https://bit.ly/3rRSpY2 Social Media Assets Infographics / related social media assets (credit: UNCCD): https://trello.com/b/sAbqXGl2/global-land-oulook-2nd-edition The GLO2 summary for decision makers is available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pG5dDn8cyWGGXZ6hZIZx-vfNMZS2HKOy/view?usp=sharing The full report is available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NfxqrezhaB30eh1FUPrXpka4-SQAjBWp/view?usp=sharing Two new regional reports, covering Central and Eastern Europe and Southern Africa, will also be released at COP15. COP15 programme, registration and other media information: https://www.unccd.int/cop15 About the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD.int) The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the global vision and voice for land. We unite governments, scientists, policymakers, private sector and communities around a shared vision and global action to restore and manage the world’s land for the sustainability of humanity and the planet. Much more than an international treaty signed by 197 parties, UNCCD is a multilateral commitment to mitigating today’s impacts of land degradation and advancing tomorrow’s land stewardship in order to provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people in an equitable and inclusive manner.