The Journey towards Land Degradation Neutrality
The Soil Leadership Academy (SLA) is a new special initiative of the United Nation’s Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). In particular, the organization is working to support public and private decision-makers in achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN). LDN, which is part of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), represents the idea of maintaining and eventually increasing the level of healthy and productive soil resources — effectively reversing the current trend of increasing soil degradation across the world.
How Desertification and Degradation Affect the Planet
Desertification is defined as the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems down to a state wherein soil loses all moisture and nutrients. It is a huge global problem, and will only intensify as climate change progresses. Desertification mostly affects those living in the poorest regions, which also happen to be the most vulnerable to climate change.
The scale of the problem is already enormous and continues to grow. Nearly half of the planet is considered dryland, and about one-third of the population lives on drylands. Already, somewhere between 10 and 20% of existing drylands are degraded, and are at risk of full desertification.
How to Achieve Land Degradation Neutrality
One of the goals of our bioenergy project development work with our partner EnMassEnergy is to promote sustainable farming practices and produce sustainable fertilizer to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve soil quality and resilience.
Sustainable farming practices need to comprise a landscape approach, wherein food is produced without degrading land and soil quality. Using sustainable farming practices can also help prevent desertification and reverse degradation. This is critical, because restoring degraded land will help us feed a growing global population. In fact, restoring just 12% of degraded land could help feed an additional 200 million people. At the same time, restoration would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and increase local resilience to drought.
A landscape approach to farming could include either agro-forestry or conservation agriculture. The overall goal should be to manage land sustainably and restore ecosystems so that land, water, and forest resources work as an integrated system to meet food security needs and deliver ecosystem services. But perhaps most importantly, a landscape approach needs to factor in the daily practices of local people, ensuring that communities are involved in the land management and restoration processes.
How much will it cost?
Sustainable land management practices for achieving land degradation neutrality tend to be community-based and labor-intensive — and therefore can be implemented at relatively low cost. Some estimates have put total restoration costs at as little as $20 per hectare per year.
Who will fund these efforts? Multilateral funding from various sources, including the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) or the Green Climate Fund (GCF), could play a huge role. Both for- and non-profit private organizations can also play a role in the development of small projects that focus on local hiring. These organizations can be financed by a combination of public and private venture capital sources. 501Carbon working with EnMassEnergy is an example of a collaboration between non-profit and for-profit organizations working together to achieve land degradation neutrality and combat climate change.
Want to learn more about 501Carbon’s efforts to achieve the UN’s SDGs and reverse land degradation? Contact us today.