Global land outlook

Sep 2017

Land, literally the ground beneath our feet, is a finite resource composed of soil, water, minerals, plants, and animals. It is an essential part of our life support system and the key building block of our societies and economies. As we grapple with the current state of land resources – a sober reminder of past misuse and mismanagement – the first edition of the GLO presents both grounds for concern and opportunities for action.
The health and resilience of our land resources are largely determined by management practices, governance systems, and environmental changes. The transformation of our natural ecosystems, the inefficient use of water resources, and the excessive use and misuse of agrochemicals contributes to land degradation at the local level as well as increased greenhouse gas emissions, reduced biodiversity, and changes in rainfall on regional and global scales. Land degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate change are now recognized as intertwined threats to multiple dimensions of human security and contribute to a downward spiral in the productivity and availability of land resources.
The GLO provides a brief overview of how land is used today and assesses likely scenarios for how we can sustainably meet the demand for land based goods and services into the future. It focuses on broader policy and practice, the cardinal issues long requiring attention, as well as the emerging concerns that need to be considered in the global public policy agenda. The GLO is a strategic, forward looking discussion and analysis that draws upon well-documented scientific research and empirical evidence. A comprehensive global assessment of land degradation and restoration is being undertaken by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
The premise is that land, and its associated resources, comprise a stock of natural capital. The increasing demand for land-based goods and services, and the manner in which they are today produced is adversely impacting the health and future productivity of the planet. The misuse and over-exploitation of land resources are threatening human security on multiple fronts: diminishing food and water security as well as reduced soil health and ecosystem resilience make us more vulnerable to extreme weather events and the impacts of climate change, and even threaten stability and security within and between nations.
The GLO presents an overview of the status of land and a clear set of responses to optimize land use, management, and planning, and thereby create synergies among sectors in the provision of land-based goods and services. This integrated approach is the basis of the conceptual framework for land degradation neutrality, a target which is seen as the driving vehicle for the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and an important part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To read the report click here