News Release

UN report calls for improved land evaluation

Time:2016-06-22 Browse Number:922 Source:Xinhua

BEIJING, June 17 (Xinhua) -- A report aiming to "unlock the sustainable potential of land resources" was released in Beijing Friday to mark the World Day to Combat Desertification.

According to the International Resource Panel (IRP), each year sees a loss of 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil and 15 billion trees. Current land evaluation needs to be improved to reverse the alarming pace of degradation.

The panel is a consortium of 34 scientists, over 30 national governments and other groups hosted by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

The report said erosion, nutrient depletion, acidification, salinization, compaction and chemical pollution have left 33 percent of the world's soils either moderately or highly degraded.

As the global population expands, climate change intensifies and more people move to urban areas, it will become increasingly difficult to sustainably produce enough food, fuel and fibre to meet demand without further depleting the world's finite land resources.

Under the title "Unlocking the Sustainable Potential of Land Resources: Evaluation Systems, Strategies and Tools," the report looks at a series of tools that can help policy makers and land managers use land more efficiently.

"Land potential evaluations must be completed and applied before changes in land use or management are implemented," said the report, adding that a better understanding of the potential of land resources - at farm, watershed, country and regional levels - could raise food productivity, promote biodiversity, and increase resilience to climate change.

According to the IRP, land evaluation could increase productivity while adapting to climate change, minimize social, economic, and environmental risks of land use change, increase the success of restoration and biodiversity conservation, and promote innovation and knowledge sharing.

Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, said "we will need to get the best we can out of the land" to feed the world's people.

And to make sure that the environment stays in a healthy state, so that future generations can also feed their people, breathe clean air, build resilience to climate change, and use the resources nature provides to enrich their lives, "we need to do the best we can for that land," said Ibrahim Thiaw.

One of the pivotal targets of the Sustainable Development Goals is achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030, which requires countries to maintain or increase the amount of healthy and productive land available today by preventing future land degradation while increasing the efficiency of current land management practices.

Evaluating the land's potential to ensure sustainable development in the right places, using the right practices is key to achieving this, said Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.