Up to 40% of planet’s land degraded: United Nations

Up to 40% of planet’s land degraded: United Nations
Representational ImageFile/ GK

New Delhi: The way land resources -- soil, water and biodiversity -- are currently mismanaged and misused, which threatens the health and continued survival of many species on the earth, including our own, a stark new report from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) warned on Wednesday.

It also points decision makers to hundreds of practical ways to effect local, national and regional land and ecosystem restoration.

UNCCD’s evidence-based flagship Global Land Outlook 2 (GLO2) report, five years in development with 21 partner organisations, and with over 1,000 references, is the most comprehensive consolidation of information on the topic ever assembled.

It offers an overview of unprecedented breadth and projects the planetary consequences of three scenarios through 2050 -- business as usual, restoration of 50 million square km of land, and restoration measures augmented by the conservation of natural areas important for specific ecosystem functions.

It also assesses the potential contributions of land restoration investments to climate change mitigation, bio-diversity conservation, poverty reduction, human health and other key sustainable development goals.

The report warns: “At no other point in modern history has humanity faced such an array of familiar and unfamiliar risks and hazards, interacting in a hyper-connected and rapidly changing world. We cannot afford to underestimate the scale and impact of these existential threats.”

“Conserving, restoring, and using our land resources sustainably are a global imperative, one that requires action on a crisis footing. Business as usual is not a viable pathway for our continued survival and prosperity.”

The GLO2 offers hundreds of examples from around the world that demonstrate the potential of land restoration. It is being released before the UNCCD’s 15th session of the Conference of Parties to be held in Abidjan, CA’te d’Ivoire (COP15, May 9-20).

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