Land Day 5 Discusses Zero Net Land Degradation Target
6 December 2011: The Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa, and the World Agroforestry Center, convened Land Day 5 in parallel to the Durban Climate Change Conference. Participants at the one-day event discussed the climate benefits from a sustainable development goal for zero net land degradation.
Among the questions asked in this respect were: How will land degradation neutrality impact climate change issues such as adaptation, mitigation and resilience building? What are the required means of implementation? and What is the potential contribution of a "Zero Net Land Degradation target" in driving the synergy agenda at all levels?
In his opening statement, Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary, called for synergy among the Rio Conventions and adoption of holistic management of natural capital. Dennis Garrity, UNCCD Drylands Ambassador and former Director-General of the World Agroforestry Center, underlined the need to make land care a grassroots movement, to classify all land with regard to degradation, stability or regeneration in order to monitor changes over time based on shifts in biomass and food security, and to accelerate low-cost land regeneration practices, among other interventions.
Among other speakers, Alexander Mueller, Assistant Director-General, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), called for reducing total food waste, post-harvest loss, and addressing the need for increased storage capacity. Noel Oettlé, Environmental Monitoring Group, in a presentation on "climate smart agriculture," suggested that, in order to support land users without harming the livelihoods of the poor, attention should be given to the design and governing aspects and, inter alia, a local vision, enabling learning, access to affordable technologies, appropriate financing and partnerships that support investment.
During a summary session, the following messages were highlighted, among others: the land degradation is a global phenomenon that cannot be resolved by a single institution, underlining the importance of partnerships; measurement, monitoring and management are the three key challenges that need to be addressed in order to curb land degradation; there is vast potential in the rangelands to sequester carbon; local initiatives need to be harnessed and up scaled; and the first step to achieving a zero-net land degradation is to be able to quantify and calculate the critical limits of tolerable changes, and develop useful indicators such as soil organic matter, as well as biological productivity.