A study by the Global Mechanism of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has examined how SDG target 15.3 on achieving a land degradation neutral world contributes to the strategic objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The study identifies several layers of convergence between the two Conventions.
Titled, ‘Land Degradation Neutrality for Biodiversity Conservation: How Healthy Land Safeguards Nature,’ the study highlights synergies linked to both Conventions’ focus on: halting the loss of natural ecosystems, especially forests; the sustainable management of land and natural capital; and protecting the livelihoods of the most affected and vulnerable communities through ensuring their fair access to natural resources, and their sustainable management. The discussion builds on lessons learned so far from implementing voluntary land degradation neutrality (LDN) targets that have been set by more than 120 countries, and the CBD National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs).
Underscoring that the bulk of the CBD’s 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets will not be met, the report makes the case for joint, and scaled up action, by observing that land degradation and biodiversity loss are among the most pressing environmental challenges facing humanity. Citing data from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the report notes that land degradation has reduced the productivity of nearly one-quarter of the global land surface, impacted the well-being of about 3.2 billion people and costing approximately 10% of annual global gross domestic product in lost ecosystem services. The report also highlights links to the third Rio Convention — the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) — notably an IPBES conclusion that one-third of the solution to the climate crisis can be found through restoration, conservation and other land management action.
The report draws on country case studies showcasing “LDN in action for biodiversity,” from Benin, Chile, Jamaica, Moldova, Namibia, and the Philippines, to explore how coordinated implementation can simultaneously address the drivers of land degradation and biodiversity loss, while protecting ecosystems, and supporting climate action.
The report identifies the ongoing negotiations for a post-2020 biodiversity framework, as well as the commencement of the 2021-2030 UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, as important opportunities for achieving greater synergies in programme design, financing, and implementation of the Rio Conventions. It calls for the design and implementation of ‘LDN Transformative Projects and Programmes’ that, inter alia, contribute to multiple SDGs, involve all relevant stakeholders, consider gender issues, and reflect a balance between the different social, economic and environmental priorities and interests at stake.
The report concludes with a number recommendations addressed to various stakeholders at different levels, including:
- In order to achieve ambitious global goals, parties to international agreements, including the UNCCD and the CBD, should develop their instruments, objectives, and programmes in ways that recognize and take advantage of their many co-benefits and synergies.
- As the process of defining the post-2020 global biodiversity framework moves forward, country parties should recognize and harness the potential that LDN and area-based targets offer to address the priorities of both the CBD and the UNCCD in an effective, complementary and mutually supporting manner.
- International organizations should strengthen the technical and capacity-building support provided to governments and other LDN stakeholders to help maintain the strong momentum created to date and optimize LDN’s contributions to biodiversity conservation goals.
- Governments should continue to strengthen coordination among ministries and departments with areas of authority relevant to LDN and biodiversity to ensure that policies and strategies build on the synergies and savings available through integrated planning and prioritize prevention.
- Financial support for governance and capacity building should be used to enhance the ability of countries to craft policies and programmes for LDN, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable use and other national priorities that have wide stakeholder support and promote integrated planning and action.
The study is one of the actions taken by the Global Mechanism (GM) of the UNCCD in response to an evaluation of the LDN Target Setting Programme in April 2019, which called for increased knowledge sharing on LDN target setting and implementation. The GM has undertaken a series of complementary studies on other thematic areas, including: forest and landscape restoration, poverty and inequality, food insecurity in mountain regions, and gender equality.
Further studies are under development focusing on how LDN targets contribute to the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable agriculture and food security, water security, and land-use planning. [UNCCD Announcement] [Publication: Land Degradation Neutrality for Biodiversity Conservation: How Healthy Land Safeguards Nature] [UNCCD Briefing Note: Land Degradation Neutrality for Biodiversity Conservation]