Susty Stories

What Young People Need to Know about Land Degradation Neutrality

Land Degradation Neutrality, sounds like such a bogus set of words and rather too scientific and academic, but to safeguard our future, young people need to understand what this concept means.

Source: Guardian

As you may already know, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 in number, they are a set of ambitious, interconnected goals that aim to end poverty, fight climate change and ensure prosperity for all, one particular SDG which determines the survival of humans and every living thing on land is Goal 15. The goal aims to protect life of land and ensure that they are restored and used sustainably. It is in addressing this goal that issues of forest management, terrestrial wildlife ecosystem protection and also combating desertification to halt land degradation and the many impacts of Climate Change. investments in land rehabilitation can advance the achievement of other SDGs, such as poverty eradication, food and water security, biodiversity protection, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Land degradation happens where a land resource has been negatively impacted, where there has been a reduction or complete loss in its biological or economic capacity or value. It is generally caused by human activities and ofcourse worsened by natural processes and often magnified by and closely intertwined with climate change and biodiversity loss.

Land Degradation Neutrality can be defined as a state whereby the amount of healthy and productive land resources, necessary to support ecosystem services, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales – IWG.

In other words, the state of maintaining and increasing the amount of healthy and productive land resources, in line with national development priorities. These priorities can be flexible enough to be implemented at local, regional or
national scales. This is where talks on the Great Green Wall, Jatropha Plant project, reforestation and tree planting strategies come to play. In LDN;  the sovereignty of nations to manage the trade-offs and to capitalise on the synergies between biological and economic productivity are recognised.

Back to the SDG 15, one particular target of this goal speaks to Land Degradation Neutrality:

By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world

Target 15.3 responds to a serious and rather immediate challenge:
How can we sustainably produce food, fuel and fibre to meet future demand without further depleting our finite land resources? And particularly for the context of this article, why should young people be involved in this process?

Currently, the cost of land degradation reaches about US$490 billion per year, much higher than the cost of action to prevent it. Though this is a general issue, roughly 40% of the world’s degraded land occurs in areas with the highest incidence of poverty. Land degradation directly impacts the health and livelihoods of an estimated 1.5 billion people

Also, there is an intrinsic link between security and land and also between hunger and conflict. Without adaptation strategies and resilience-building devoted to responsibly managing and restoring our natural capital, land degradation, especially in places like Africa, will continue to be a significant factor that threatens rural livelihoods, triggers forced migration and aggravates conflicts over limited natural resources. It is a serious crisis destabilising communities on a global scale. — Ms Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification

Think of it this way, our health and ability to prosper are all dependent on the first contact to the environment – land and this is very critical to our future and security.

Bringing it home, climate induced dryness in Northern Nigeria has crippled its potential to have an economic bloom; the encroachment of Nigeria’s Savannah into its rainforest zone also indicates possible land degradation.


Source: UNCCD

So what is the way forward?

  • Sustainable land management practices: such as agroforestry and conservation agriculture, can reduce the yield gaps and enhance the resilience of our working landscapes while preventing further land degradation.Have you gone to check out the awesomeness at LUFASI Park, Lagos?
  • We need to explore processes like rainwater harvesting, local irrigation etc to combat issues of desertification or drought.
  • All major investors in agricultural land should be required to protect and rehabilitate land and pay an annual allowance of environmental protection to the host country
  • Get political will from the highest level; if the government knew the vital role of soils and of sustainable land management in getting a sustainable future and ensuring food security; we’ll be more prepared to achieve land degradation neutrality.
  • Plant Trees, apart from just trapping carbon in the atmosphere, trees are needed to hold our soil integrity together
  • Let us make this issue popular by disseminating information and programmes in the recently revised national environmental policy.
  • Technology can help out too, young people can build apps that show real-time land degradation, levels of erosion etc and of course use social media for good.
  • More problem-solving forums, community involvement and co-operation at all levels will help us achieve this cause and safeguard the future
Jennifer Uchendu

Jennifer Uchendu

Founder, SustyVibes

Nigerian Ecofeminist passionate about sustainable development. You would often find me talking about African women and how their development will save Africa.