Sustainable Land Management and Restoration: An SDG Accelerator

 Photo: GC-RED

Land degradation is a barrier to sustainable development. It is a serious problem that is destabilizing communities on a global scale, with 40% of the world’s degraded land occurring in areas with the highest incidence of poverty. Adoption of sustainable land management (SLM) policies and practices helps promote sustainable development in a number of ways, contributing to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15: Life on Land as well as other related goals, including SDG 1: No Poverty, SDG 2: Zero Hunger, SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, and SDG 13: Climate Action.  As such, UNDP considers SLM to be an “SDG Accelerator” which provides options to simultaneously meet these goals in a cost effective and ecologically sound manner.

GC-RED seeks to build social and ecological resilience in drylands and other fragile ecosystems. Drawing on decades of experiences and expertise, the Centre supports programme countries in scaling up their SLM and ecosystem restoration efforts, using a three-pronged approach through:  

  • Capacity development, advocacy and policy advice;
  • Adoption and demonstration of evidence-based, locally-appropriate technology and techniques; and
  • Enhanced access to environment and climate finance.  


Land Degradation Neutrality

 Photo: BES-Net

SDG Target 15.3 states: By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world.” 

Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) is defined as “a state whereby the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems.” It is a positive aspirational goal that aims to maintain and improve the amount of healthy and productive land resources over time and in line with national sustainable development priorities. A LDN approach was developed based on the belief that a reversal of current trends is indeed possible. There is an improved understanding of the kinds of actions that can halt and reverse a great deal of the damage done. New opportunities to manage land in a fundamentally new way are also emerging. In particular, land management options that sequester carbon can provide enormous ecological and economic benefits in the fight against climate change. More >

In partnership with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Governments of Germany and Turkey and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), UNDP helps countries achieve LDN or SDG Target 15.3 by 2030. More specifically, UNDP is providing technical and financial support for:

  • Organization of regional capacity building workshops on LDN target setting for the UNCCD Country Parties in Africa, Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States regions.
  • Voluntary LDN target setting in five pilot countries in Africa and Asia (i.e. Kenya, Mauritius, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan and China). 

A side event was organized in partnership with the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD and the governments of China, Kenya and Lebanon during the 13th Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD to showcase good practices and lessons learned from the process of establishing LDN targets under different policy, institutional and socio-ecological environments.  More >


Global Land Outlook

 Photo: UNDP Bangladesh

The Global Land Outlook (GLO) is an ambitious policy initiative led by the UNCCD Secretariat to determine the future course of land policies and land management practices across the globe. The GLO consists of a comprehensive report on the status and trends in the use and management of land resources to better inform relevant policy and planning processes. 

GC-RED, as a key partner of the GLO, provided technical and financial support for the development of the relevant working papers and background documents for the GLO report. These include the working paper on land and climate which was integrated into a brochure titled Land Matters for Climate: Closing the Gap and Approaching the Target and launched at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP21). It argues that the adoption of more sustainable land management, rehabilitation and restoration, up till now largely untapped, would provide a rapid and low cost reduction in emissions that would not only help close the emissions gap but also provide significant co-benefits to the rural poor and other vulnerable communities.

The first edition of the GLO was launched in Ordos, China, at the UNCCD COP13. During the launch event, UNDP stressed the institution's commitment to continually support the implementation of the GLO recommendations on the ground. More >


Economics of Land Degradation

 Photo: UNDP Bangladesh

The Economics of Land Degradation (LDN) Initiative is a global assessment on the economic benefits and costs of land and land-based ecosystems. The Initiative highlights the value of sustainable land management and provides a global approach for analyzing the economics of land degradation. It aims to make the economics of land degradation an integral part of policy strategies and decision-making by increasing the political and public awareness of the costs and benefits of land and land-based ecosystems. 

Since 2014, UNDP, through GC-RED (and previous Drylands Development Centre or DDC), has been a partner of the ELD Initiative. UNDP has provided support to the Options and Pathways to Action work group of the ELD Initiative to help engage stakeholders at the country level in close collaboration with the UNDP Country Offices to contribute to ensuring the policy relevance of ELD Initiative outputs. In this context, GC-RED facilitated consultations with a broad array of relevant stakeholders in four selected countries in Africa (i.e. Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Tanzania) introducing the ELD Initiative and generating concrete feedback and guidance on the possible application of the ELD Initiative approach on the ground.

Findings from these consultations contributed to the final ELD Initiative reports which were launched in 2015: i) The value of land, prosperous lands and positive rewards through sustainable land management; ii) a report for policy and decision makers, Reaping economic and environmental benefits from sustainable land management; and iii) The economics of land degradation in Africa: benefits of action outweigh the costs.

The consultations in Kenya, Sudan and Tanzania were funded by the Government of the Republic of Korea, channeled through the UNCCD Secretariat; while consultations held in Somalia were funded by the Government of Germany/GIZ. Project activities were implemented under the framework of UNDP’s Integrated Drylands Development Programme and carried out by GC-RED in close collaboration with the UNDP Country Offices in the selected countries and the Options and Pathways to Action working group of the ELD Initiative headed by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). More >

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