In September 2017, at the 13th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 13), UNCCD have launched the first edition of the Global Land Outlook (GLO) in Ordos, China. The GLO comes up with overview of global land resources condition, its trends, and agenda for action.
From 1998 to 2013, around 20 per cent of the Earth’s vegetated surface indicates decreasing trends in productivity, mainly because of degraded natural and managed ecosystems. The decline is alarming in facing demand for land-intensive crops and livestock. In the preface, the Executive Secretary of UNCCD, Monique Barbout, stated the importance of land’s health and productivity to counter the concerned trends.
The report differentiates two different kinds of factor affecting land’s health and productivity. Direct factors include deforestation, overgrazing, and the expansion of agricultural, industrial, and urban areas. Meanwhile, indirect ones are demographic trends, land tenure, inconsistent consumer demand for land-based goods and services, macro-economic policies based on rapid growth, and inequitable governance systems.
In intensive agriculture, land degradation increases the vulnerability of the poor, women, children, and small-scale farmers. Smallholders’ aggravated pressure come with insecure tenure and a globalized food system that likely favours large-scale and highly mechanized farms. Approximately 25 per cent of global cropland area now produces exported commodities for land-poor but cash-abundant countries.
A regional assessment identifies that falling fallow periods and competing uses for organic inputs are major causes of reduced soil organic carbon (SOC) in Asia and parts of the Pacific. Farmers, as the manager of soil carbon, have a play in addressing challenges of biodiversity loss, climate change, and land degradation to integrate agriculture and environmental management.
The GLO indicates a scenario analysis on land-use change and land degradation forecasting that South Asia, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and to a lesser extent, South-east Asia will face the greatest challenges resulting from high population growth, increased biodiversity losses, limited options for agricultural expansion, low per capita GDP, and rising water stress.
The report also highlighted the needs of harmonization between land biological and economical productivity to resolve degraded land issue. Land has a finite quantity that the adoption of sustainable practices will be the key settlement to sufficient land. Addressing land issue can help to alleviate societal and political tensions since soil loss, crop declines, desertification, and water scarcity triggers peace and security matters.
To guide the member states in preventing the loss of healthy land, the UNCCD set an initiative targeting for land degradation management, namely the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN). The efforts to attain the LDN target through integrated conservation, land and water management, and restoration are also key factors to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Countries need to assess the cumulative impact of land use decisions, take measures to restore degraded land, and offset anticipated losses in order to achieve the LDN.
More information on Global Land Outlook platform are available on the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)'s website.
This report review was prepared by Dwi Fitriah Arrisandi, Junior Research Consultant, CAPSA