Land Matters for Climate

At the Marrakech Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP22), scheduled between 7-18 November, the Paris Climate Change Agreement enters into force. Countries will start transforming the Paris commitment into concrete action on the ground to reduce emissions.

To contribute to this, the UNCCD calls on all countries to commit to achieve land degradation neutrality. Healthy and productive land is the natural fix to a number of pressing issues accelerated by a changing climate such as poverty, environmental migration and food/water security. By achieving land degradation neutrality, we will secure the health and productivity of the land, mitigate the effects of drought and make people and ecosystems more resilient to climate change. As the Paris Agreement is taking effect, UNCCD will work to better highlight the role of land and soil as a carbon sink and how land degradation neutrality could help communities vulnerable to climate change to adapt.

1. Land degradation neutrality supports the Paris Agreement

Achieving land degradation neutrality and improving 12 million hectares of degraded land annually up to 2030 would help deliver on the Paris agreement. Already over 100 countries, who submitted Intended National Determined Contributions, included the land use sector for either mitigation or adaptation of climate change. Likewise, over 100 countries are now setting out ambitious national plans to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030. The UNCCD will support countries’ efforts to urgently scale up the rehabilitation of degraded land and terrestrial ecosystems and will develop guidance on land as an adaptation measure.

2. Land Degradation Neutrality supports carbon sequestration

Land is the second largest carbon sink next to the oceans. Restoring the soils of degraded ecosystems has the potential to store up to 3 billion tons of carbon annually. This is equivalent to storing up to 30% of annual CO2 fossil fuel emissions.[1] That is climate change mitigation with real sustainable development benefits. Thus, investing in land degradation neutrality makes sense. The UNCCD, through its operational arm, Global Mechanism, is taking up this challenge by promoting the creation of an independent fund that will support initiatives that aim to reach LDN.

3. Land delivers real climate action

If climate change and land degradation continue at the current rate, vulnerable communities could be forced to make some disastrous choices. But land degradation neutrality can turn this vicious cycle into virtuous synergy, simply by avoiding further land degradation and recovering already degraded land in the way that communities can adapt. Sustainable land management can enhance soil water storage capacities and mitigate the risks of drought and flood.

  • Conservation agriculture is an effective way to strengthen the resilience of agro-economic systems and livelihoods while accelerating adaptation objectives. In this context, the UNCCD supports the African Agriculture Adaptation to Climate Change (“AAA”) initiated by Morocco.
  • There is an urgent need to act on the links between migration and development challenges, in particular, the consequences of environmental degradation, political instability, food insecurity and poverty. The UNCCD supports African countries to act on the impact of climate change and land degradation which ensures the continent’s sustainability, stability and security.
  • The Great Green Wall Initiative (GGWI) is expected to increase climate resilience of local populations in a region where temperatures are expected to rise by 2 to 5 °C by 2050. In the margins of the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris, Francois Hollande, President of the French Republic made a commitment to strengthen support to the GGWI and adaptation to climate change.

 

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