The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative works at the science-policy interface, bringing a large global network of scientists, academics, business leaders, politicians, decision-makers and other relevant stakeholders together to identify solutions for land management. It mobilises different kinds of expertise ranging from ecosystem services to economics, stakeholder participation, communications and other topics related to land management and policy. The Initiative provides economic information on the benefits of sustainable land management to interested parties, capitalising on intellectual capital to promote better land management.
The international network was initiated in 2012 by the European Commission, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The partners’ vision of Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative is to transform global understanding of the value of land and create awareness of the economic case for sustainable land management that prevents loss of natural capital, secures livelihoods, preserves ecosystem services, combats climate change, and addresses food, energy, and water security, and to create capacity for the utilisation of economic information for sustainable land management.
The aim of the ELD Initiative is to increase and strengthen awareness of the economics of land degradation and sustainable land management in the scientific, political and public discourse. Through research, capacity-building, and active knowledge exchange, it seeks to ensure that the economics of sustainable land management are understood and useful for decision making processes.
A globally valid approach for the analysis of the economics of land degradation is at the heart of all ELD activities. The goal of the Initiative is to ensure that economic valuation of ecosystem services becomes an integral part of policy strategies and decision-making.
The central purpose and role of the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative is that through an open inter-disciplinary partnership:
- We work on the basis of a holistic framework built upon a recognized methodology to include the economic benefits of sustainable land management in political decision-making;
- We build a compelling economic case for the benefits derived from sustainable land management from the local to the global level while applying a multi-level approach;
- We estimate quantitatively the economic benefits derived from adopting sustainable land management practices and compare them to the costs of these practices;
- We develop the capacities of decision-makers and land users through innovative formats to adapt and build their knowledge into national frameworks and action on the ground;
- We stimulate the transformation towards land uses that provide fulfilling and secure livelihoods to all while growing natural capital, enhancing ecosystem services, boosting resilience and combating climate change;
- We increase the awareness of the total value of land with its related ecosystem services;
- We mainstream the full benefits of land in international and national land use strategies and action programmes by proposing effective solutions, tailored to country- or region-specific needs, including policies, and activities to reduce land degradation, mitigate climate change and the loss of biodiversity, and deliver food, energy, and water security worldwide.
What are economics of Land Degradation?
Economics of land degradation look at the true costs of degrading land and land-based ecosystems as well as the benefits that derive from sustainable management of land and land-based ecosystems.
Valuing land comprehensively is no easy feat, and thus the ELD Initiative provides ground-truthed tools and assessments that will allow other parties to undertake cost-benefit analyses of land and land use through total economic valuation. This approach helps to shine a light on the hidden values of land that are very often not considered when taking decisions about its management (e.g., nutrient cycling, water retention, storm protection). The Initiative also recognises that some aspects of land are invaluable in that the very existence of humanity depends on the land and thus has infinite value. Nevertheless, economic information is used by decision makers for land use, land use change and management. Fully informed economic valuations are a central component of these decision making processes, especially as economics provide a common language for different stakeholders to discuss their needs, costs, and gains, and come to optimal, mutually beneficial sustainable land management strategies.