The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development puts a strong emphasis on the integrated approach to achieving the SDGs that can harness synergies and minimize potential trade-offs. Land can play an important part in accelerating the achievement of many SDGs. Maintaining and restoring land resources can play a vital role in tackling climate change, securing biodiversity and maintaining crucial ecosystem services, while ensuring shared prosperity and well-being. Healthy and productive land can play an unparalleled role as an engine of economic growth and a source of livelihood for billions worldwide, including the most vulnerable populations. Achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN) can become an accelerator of achieving SDGs across the board.
Our future economic growth, prosperity and well-being depend on protecting and restoring working landscapes. Two billon hectares of degraded land are available to kick-start green economy and develop opportunities for employment, learning and poverty reduction.
It is also necessary to recognize the role of women as agents of positive change. Evidence shows that when women are given equal opportunities and access to resources and decision-making, communities become more prosperous and more peaceful. Women’s transformative potential can become the cornerstone for achieving LDN and fulfilling the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Estimates show that 795 million people worldwide are chronically undernourished, often as a direct consequence of land degradation, declining soil fertility, unsustainable water use, drought and loss of biodiversity. The sustainable land management (SLM) and restoration of terrestrial resources are vital to enhancing agricultural productivity especially for small-scale food producers. SLM ensures sustainable food production and resilient agricultural practices, as well as the efficient use of natural resources, thus contributing to human well-being.
Water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population and is projected to increase. SLM practices that improve water efficiency and quality in a cost-effective way, as well as the restoration of water-related ecosystems, are essential to mitigating water scarcity. This is an important precondition to achieving access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all.
Climate change requires a rethink and a bold move towards renewable energy sources. By 2030, nearly three billion people will rely on biomass for cooking and heating. The sustainable management of land and water is pivotal to ensure a reliable, affordable and sustainable energy supply for all.
By 2030, almost 60 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas. It is critical to promote integrated spatial development planning approaches to optimize the allocation of resources, on which human settlements in urban and peri-urban areas rely. Health benefits and disaster prevention are additional advantages that sustainable land use planning can provide.
Without proper consideration of the land sector, we cannot get to a 2° C stabilization pathway and deliver climate-change resilient landscapes. Improved land use and management, such as low-emissions agriculture, agro-forestry and ecosystem conservation and restoration could close the remaining emissions gap by up to 25 per cent, while reducing the risks posed by climate change and developing the resilience of key sectors.