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Why sustainable land management matters

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Land provides vital environmental functions and ecosystem services, including provisioning and regulating services. It is also inextricably linked to human well-being and plays a role in food security and livelihoods. When land resources are over-exploited and degraded, quality of life is negatively affected and can result in food insecurity, job losses, displacement, or conflict. Improving economic, social and cultural quality of life therefore requires the management and preservation of land’s capacity to continue to provide goods and services for society.

In this regard, the UNCCD is committed to combating and mitigating the effects of desertification, land degradation, and drought (DLDD), through long-term integrated strategies that simultaneously increase land productivity and rehabilitate, conserve, and sustainably manage land resources, in order to improve living conditions and human well-being.

SLM plays a pivotal role in this process, as it represents a holistic approach to preserving the vital functions and services provided by land in a long-term, sustainable productive capacity, by integrating biophysical, socio-cultural and economic needs and values.

Furthermore, there is increasing scientific evidence of the potential advantages of SLM in providing appropriate land-based solutions to simultaneously address desertification, land degradation and drought, support climate change adaptation and mitigation, and achieve other co-benefits, such as protecting the quantity and quality of soil and water resources.

SLM can support the objectives of the three Rio Conventions (UNCCDUNFCCC and the CBD), as it provides opportunities to collaborate and develop integrated approaches that can contribute to these Conventions, through its positive impacts on productivity, increased resilience to climate change, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and the conservation of biological diversity.


SLM also contributes directly to achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including:

  • SDG 15 (life on land), which focuses on the achievement of land degradation neutrality, by providing a suite of targeted, appropriate land management practices that prevent the loss of healthy land and maintain or improve the land’s productivity;
  • SDG 1 (end to poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), and SDG 3 (good health and well-being), by enhancing food security and other livelihood benefits, and by increasing the resilience of the land and the populations depending on it;
  • SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), through its contribution to sustainable water management, and
  • SDG 13 (climate action), by increasing resilience and creating synergistic actions for climate change adaptation and mitigation, for example by increasing soil carbon stocks.