Land Degradation, Poverty and Inequality

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UNCCD Publications

Land degradation threatens the livelihoods of billions of people around the world . This is particularly the case for populations living in rural areas where most of the poor people reside: estimates report that 80% of the extreme poor live in rural areas and 65% work in the agricultural sector. Land represents a key asset for the livelihoods of the rural poor, as it provides key resources such as food, energy, shelter, and fodder, among others. Land degradation, however, constrains the supply of these ecosystem services and negatively impacts household income and consumption in many parts of the world, worsening poverty and widening inequalities.

Despite the importance of land for human well-being, land degradation continues to increase worldwide due to several factors, including the expansion of crop and grazing lands into native vegetation, unsustainable agricultural and forestry practices, climate change, urban expansion, infrastructure development, and extractive industry. According to the recently published World Atlas of Desertification, approximately 20% of the Earth’s vegetated land surface showed persistent declining trends in land productivity between the years 1999 and 2013. In addition, the Trends.Earth tool reports a global degradation of 15% between the years 2001 and 2015.