Land restoration for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

An International Resource Panel think piece
Land use land management Conservation Sustainable development

This think piece from the International Resource Panel (IRP) was developed based on IRP scientific studies and assessments including “Unlocking the Sustainable Potential of Land Resources: Evaluation Systems, Strategies and Tools” and other relevant literature. It provides science-based reflections to policymakers, academics and practitioners highlighting the strategic importance of land restoration efforts for the achievement of every single sustainable development goal included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was prepared under the leadership of Jeffrey Herrick with Tanya Abrahamse (members of the International Resource Panel), Hala Razian (UNEP) and the support of Maria Jose Baptista (UNEP), Simone Retif (UNEP), Moira O’Brien-Malone (UNEP) and written inputs from 27 chapter authors and co-authors listed on the acknowledgements page of this document. Chapter authors responded to an open call from the International Resource Panel to ensure a diverse and interdisciplinary perspective, a first of its kind on this topic.

The final document also benefited significantly from the suggestions of three independent reviewers, and comments from both the UNCCD and UNEP staff.

In this think piece, the authors recognize that land is one of Earth’s most important and limiting resources, that its inefficient and inappropriate use continues to result in degradation, and that degradation does and will have dire consequences on human well-being and the earth systems we depend on. Rather than dwelling on the problem, however, we explore solutions: opportunities to exponentially change the way we engage with this most fundamental resource. The report is driven by the authors’ explorations of the inextricable links between land stewardship through restoration and rehabilitation and almost all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (figure 1.1). It is also consistent with and supports many of the messages included in the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) publication, “A natural fix: A joined-up approach delivering the global goals for sustainable development”, which focuses explicitly on land degradation neutrality (SDG target 15.3. UNCCD 2016).

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