Land matters for climate: Reducing the gap and approaching the target

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has published a brief titled, ‘Land matters for climate: Reducing the gap and approaching the target,' ahead of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Paris, France. The publication states that additional commitments contained in the UNCCD's Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) target − which envisages rehabilitating 12 million hectares of degraded land globally each year − could help close roughly 25% of the estimated emissions gap of 13 gigatonnes of equivalent CO2 (GtC02e), and amounts to “two-thirds of the expected emissions reduction pledges of all INDCs [Intended Nationally Determined Contributions] in the year 2030.” This brief presents three pathways for striving to achieve the LDN target that could also translate into meaningful climate action, namely through: protecting natural carbon sinks like forests, grasslands and wetlands; adopting and scaling up sustainable land management (SLM) practices that reduce emissions, increase productivity and prevent further land-use changes; and restoring degraded ecosystems for improved resilience and long-term carbon storage. The publication stresses that some of the proposed actions “need not be expensive or complex,” noting that it can take “as little as US$20” to rehabilitate one hectare of farmland in Africa using traditional agroforestry, water conservation, and livestock management practices.