The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has issued the second edition of its flagship report titled, ‘Global Land Outlook: Land Restoration for Recovery and Resilience’ (GLO2). The publication outlines various future land scenarios, and highlights the potential contributions of land restoration investments to climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, and human health, among other SDGs. GLO2 shares evidence-based strategies and “flexible pathways for countries and communities to design and implement their unique land restoration agenda.”
According to the report, land resources, such as soil, water, and biodiversity, “provide the foundation for the wealth of our societies and economies,” with approximately USD 44 trillion of economic output – more than half of global annual gross domestic product (GDP) – being “moderately or highly reliant on natural capital.” Yet, GLO2 warns, four of the nine planetary boundaries, which define a “safe operating space for humanity,” have already been exceeded. Breaches related to climate change, biodiversity loss, land use change, and geochemical cycles are also “directly linked to human-induced desertification, land degradation, and drought.”
In light of “a confluence of unprecedented crises” affecting our climate, biodiversity, and land, all exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the report urges “moving to a crisis footing” to conserve, restore, and use our land resources sustainably. It recommends that land restoration – a “continuum of sustainable land and water management practices” that can be used to conserve natural areas, boost nature-positive food production, and “green” infrastructure and supply chains – be integrated with measures to:
- meet future energy needs while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions;
- address food insecurity and water scarcity while shifting to more sustainable production and consumption patterns; and
- accelerate a transition to a circular economy that reduces waste and pollution.
We cannot stop the climate crisis today, biodiversity loss tomorrow, and land degradation the day after. We need to tackle all these issues together.
— UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw
GLO2 emphasizes that land is the “operative link between biodiversity loss and climate change” and as such, “must be the primary focus of any meaningful intervention to tackle these intertwined crises.” The report recommends measures to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN) by transforming food systems while “putting people front and center,” safeguarding land rights, and redirecting investment and incentives towards regenerative land management solutions, noting that these must be tailored to local contexts. “More than 130 countries have adopted LDN targets to avoid the future loss of land-based natural capital by scaling up sound stewardship and restoration practices,” notes UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw in a foreword.
The report further underscores the need for coordinated measures to “slow or reverse climate change, land degradation, and biodiversity loss” for better health and livelihoods, food and water security, and a sustainable legacy for future generations. The UN, it argues, could use its convening power to “activate the land restoration agenda,” “motivate the global community, … and help secure finance for land restoration at scale.”
GLO2 recognizes land restoration as a shared responsibility, and notes that the 2021-2030 UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is uniting Indigenous Peoples and local communities, governments, the private sector, and civil society in a global movement to undertake restoration across all scales. It emphasizes, however, that “countries that are disproportionately responsible for the climate, biodiversity, and environmental crises must do more to support developing countries as they restore their land resources.”
GLO2 is the product of a joint effort led by the UNCCD secretariat and the GLO2 steering committee, in collaboration with partners, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and UN-Habitat, as well as stakeholders from governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), among others. GLO2 was released on 27 April 2022, two weeks before the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the UNCCD kicks off in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
In the lead-up to the publication, UNCCD had commissioned a series of eight working papers on the key topics addressed in GLO2. The authors explored how land restoration can support sustainable recovery from the pandemic, and address linkages between land restoration and food security, land tenure, urbanization, and gender. They also discuss the role of youth engagement in, and suggest ways to counter perverse incentives for, land restoration.
GLO’s first edition was launched five years ago, in September 2017, at COP 13 in Ordos, China. It focused on the wide-ranging drivers, risks, and impacts of persistent land degradation. [Publication: Second Global Land Outlook] [Summary for Decision Makers] [GLO Landing Page] [UNCCD Media Advisory]