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Source: Small Island Developing States

6 September 2019: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) have published a book that aims to bring the “voices of land” restoration into the limelight and inspire partnerships that can deliver at scale. Success stories from Ecuador, Georgia, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar and Viet Nam presented in the publication reflect how local and global collaboration to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN) can effectively contribute to restoring the quarter of the planet’s land that is degraded.

The book titled, ‘Voices From the Land: Restoring Soil and Enriching Lives,’ highlights the impact of land degradation on the well-being of over three billion people, representing almost half of the world’s population who are directly affected by it. Through the stories of people “who decided to fight back rather than become another statistic tracking poverty, conflict or forced migration,” as Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), writes in the introduction, the publication reveals the cost-effective results that can be achieved locally and scaled up globally “when the right partners come together.”

Sustainably managing degraded land globally could save between USD 4.3 trillion and USD 20.2 trillion annually.

The book specifically focuses on multi-stakeholder projects that, among other partners, include UNEP and GEF, capturing six stories on:

  • Balancing climate, conflict and community in Kenya;
  • Ranching and restoration in Ecuador;
  • Fighting erosion in Madagascar;
  • Restoring fortune to the fields of Georgia;
  • Sustainable tea production in Viet Nam; and
  • Community land management in Jordan.

Showcasing smallholders like Khatmah who are working with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to restore traditional rangeland management in Jordan and Egypt, or tea growers like Thanh who are working with the Rainforest Alliance to restore natural soil fertility in Viet Nam, China, India and Sri Lanka, the publication makes the case for investing in the stewardship of land as an effective way to create opportunities for much wider sustainable development.

In the joint introduction, Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP, and Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, GEF, mention that efforts to restore the two billion hectares of degraded land globally have “enormous potential” to increase productivity, sequester carbon and preserve biodiversity, while boosting employment in rural areas, strengthening economies and creating opportunities for some of the most vulnerable categories of population. They note that restoring and sustainably managing degraded land globally could save between USD 4.3 trillion and USD 20.2 trillion annually through the provision of ecosystem services alone. To that end, Andersen and Ishii highlight the importance of facilitating partnerships that build capacities and link local will to global knowledge. [Publication: Voices From the Land: Restoring Soil and Enriching Lives] [UNEP Publication Landing Page] [GEF Publication Landing Page]

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