– Suruchi Bhadwal, Senior Fellow, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi; Lead Author IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL)
A critical resource, LAND is elemental for sustaining life forms on Earth. IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land concludes that land acts both as a source and sink of the climate. Activities like agriculture, food production, and deforestation are major drivers of climate change. On the other hand, tremendous pressure induced by climate change and anthropogenic factors have undermined the capability of the land and its potential to deliver in certain cases. Climate change exacerbates land degradation in many different ways. Dryland areas are particularly sensitive to degradation.
Climate change impacts affecting land quality has huge implications for food security in various parts of the world. Food security will be increasingly affected through yield declines, increased prices, reduced nutrient levels and quality, and supply chain disruptions with variations in different parts of the world. Impacts on crop yields are likely to be higher in the tropics compared to other regions. The continued increase in greenhouse gas emissions is likely to further aggravate conditions. Security also linked to issues of food loss/ waste. Around 25-30% of food produced is lost or wasted, mostly wasted in the developed world and losses in the developing world.
While measures to restore land and its functionaries can be explored especially in case of drylands, there are limits to what can be done to restore it in certain cases and also in some cases desertification might be irreversible.
There is enough land to feed all. However, requires early far-reaching actions across several fronts. Coordinated action on climate change and land may address issues of food security, nutrition, and hunger. A targeted mix of policies may be the solution. The multiplicity of local actions can achieve a global solution to the problem. Diverse production systems are likely to reduce the risks of land degradation. Better land management can assist in tackling climate including making land available for afforestation and bioenergy.