A group of international research organizations, supported by the Global Mechanism (GM), have responded to UNCCD country Parties by launching an initiative to develop a comprehensive methodological approach for assessing the value of sustainable land management and the costs of land degradation the costs of land degradation and at national and global levels.
The emphasis of the initiative, launched at COP9,is on generating evidence to support sustainable land management (SLM) policies and investments, by demonstrating their existing and potential contribution to national development and poverty reduction. The partners believe that SLM is a fundamental requirement for sustainable development and poverty reduction and, conversely, that existing trends in land degradation are jeopardizing the prospects of many nations for achieving their national development priorities and the MDGs.
The paradox is that this degradation persists despite our knowledge of the solutions: around the world there are examples of effective and sustainable land management practices that can and do prevent and reverse the destruction of ecosystems and livelihoods that land degradation generates. One reason for this paradox is that policies for and investments in SLM have not been perceived as a priority for the allocation of scarce institutional and financial resources in many countries. This, in turn, reflects a limited understanding of the value of land and the potential returns on investments in SLM.
The initiative intends to reverse this through three linked areas of action:
- an assessment at the global and regional levels of the inherent values of land resources, based on the appraisal of their ecosystems services potentials, together with estimates of the costs of land degradation;
- work at the national level to provide evidence to policy makers on the condition and values of land resources and their role in the livelihoods of different communities, along with the appraisal of the costs and benefits of different sustainable land management practices; and
- the development of robust and replicable methodologies for the analysis of the values of land and costs of land degradation with the intention that these methods can be adopted by UNCCD member countries for future use to generate evidence and guide policies and investment decisions.
Several discussions were held with member countries during the COPon the prospects of undertaking national level activities and extremely strong demand for these types of capabilities and analyses was expressed. The initiative will respond by preparing concrete proposals for actions in an agreed group of representative countries from different parts of the world, as well as preparing detailed proposals for the global and regional analyses and the preparation of methodologies.
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