Land restoration has tremendous potential to help the world limit climate change and achieve its aims for sustainable development, according to a new study by the International Resource Panel (IRP).
Hot on the heels of the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which found that climate change was reducing land’s ability to sustain humanity, the IRP projects forward to examine the likely results if we rehabilitate land. In doing so, the IRP found positive spin-offs to support all 17 Sustainable Development Goals agreed to by the world’s nations as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“It is clear that a huge step-up is required on all fronts if the world is to achieve sustainable development and reverse the climate and nature crises,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
“Landscape restoration will bring obvious climate, biodiversity and livelihood benefits, and investing in nature’s infrastructure will provide a key ingredient for planetary security,” she added. “The Panel’s work shows how well-planned restoration at a landscape scale not only halts degradation, but also generates positive results. It is time for innovation, holistic thinking and ambitious action to put us on the path to sustainability.”
Key findings of the new study include:
- Land restoration and rehabilitation can have significant co-benefits for all Sustainable Development Goals.
- The extent of restoration co-benefits, and potential risks and trade-offs, varies widely among the Goals and their respective targets.
- The co-benefits of the restoration process are often very different to that of the restored land, and often work at different temporal scales.
- Quantitative and qualitative modelling, including scenario development, at local to global scales, can help guide future investments and coordinate projects.
- An integrated landscape approach, including targeting investments, is key to increasing the total return on land restoration investments.
Chapter 4 of the new report, authored by Sara J. Scherr and Louis Wertz of EcoAgriculture Partners, highlights how integrated landscape approaches to planning and implementing restoration programs are critical to cost-effective strategies to achieve the sustainable development goals.