UNCCD News Spotlights Goal for Land-Degradation Neutral World

February 2013: The latest issue of UNCCD News, which is published by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), includes a number of stories regarding the goal to achieve a land-degradation neutral world.

In his column, UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja writes about the need to ensure that "achieving a land-degradation neutral world becomes part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and is mainstreamed in the entire post-2015 development agenda." He highlights disappointment that the 2012 Doha Climate Change Conference postponed a decision on key issues of land and agriculture, and asks how much more evidence is needed, citing a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) that 25 per cent of the world's land is highly degraded and only 10 per cent is improving. He calls for achieving zero net land degradation (ZNLD) "as soon as possible and no later than by 2030."

An article on pathways to a land-degradation neutral world notes that, in November 2012, four international conferences addressed this issue: the International Conference on Food Security in Dry Lands in Doha, Qatar; the Fourth International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification at Ben-Gurion University in Israel; the European Commission's conference on Land and Soil Degradation post Rio+20; and the First Global Soil Week in Berlin. To achieve the goal by 2030, the article indicates that the UNCCD has recommended action to create a stronger institutional framework, assess and inform about the economics of land degradation, and establish a global scientific authority on land and soils.

An interview with Klaus Töpfer, former Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and current Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, suggests, inter alia: identifying test regions in order to collect hard data on land degradation; capacity building; investing in infrastructure to reduce post-harvest loss; and changing consumption and production patterns. [UNCCD News Issue 4.5/4.6]