ELD Initiative launches its first report for decision makers
Investment in Sustainable Land Management pays off
WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA - A study by the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative reveals that the actions to prevent or reverse land degradation can be financially rewarding while also bringing benefits to the environment and contribute in the alleviation of poverty, especially in rural areas. The report, launched at the UNCCD COP-11 in Windhoek, Namibia on 24 September, 2013, highlights the power of a ‘total economic approach to tackling global land degradation. As an example, it demonstrates that applying known sustainable land management practices can increase crop yields by 2.3 billion tonnes of food annually at a value of about $1.4 trillion.
The report details why land is chronically undervalued: The practice of emphasizing short-term economic gains leads to intensive, unsustainable resource extraction, and ultimately to land degradation. Focusing solely on agricultural or forestry values ignores the many other valuable contributions of land uses and services to society (e.g., carbon sequestration, recreational values, or nutrient cycling). Globally, over ¼ of usable land on earth has already been degraded, and the situation is an on-going crisis, affecting billions. The ‘rural poor’, 1.2 billion people who depend directly on degrading lands for sustenance and daily living, are directly affected. This issue is even more urgent in light of the combined trend of decreasing crop yields and the exponentially growing human population.
By providing the scientific community, governments, and the private sector with a scalable, adaptable toolbox for total economic valuations, the ELD Initiative aims to aid the prevention and reversal of land degradation globally. This is a necessary prerequisite to reduce social tensions arising from this issue, in recognition of the limits of finite natural resources. Sustainable land management can provide environmental, economic, and social benefits for the greater good on a long-term scale, and this objective can be arrived at with the assistance of the tools and methodologies outlined in the report. An inclusive total economic valuation approach will allow for the clearest picture of land and land service values. The results from the ELD approach will provide a foundational platform to guide land use, and investment and equitable planning decisions that do not result in the further impoverishment of rural farmers or degradation of land.
The ELD interim report contains a preliminary analysis of the global status of research in this arena. It shows that there is a serious lack of capacity within developing nations to perform their own research and implement their own solutions to land degradation. ELD also identifies the global failures to actually get communities to adopt sustainable land management. The ELD initiative emphasizes the importance of engaging local stakeholders in sustainable land management, offering practical applications to ensure adoption of these practices.
ELD is developing a case study database, which already has been made publicly available by the initiative for independent research, and further contributions are welcome. More detailed reports aimed at the scientific community, governments, and the private sector, will become available within the next two years.