$23trn may be lost globally to poor land use by 2050 —UNCCD

UNCCD
António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

AN estimated $23 trillion would be lost by 2050 globally, as a result of land degradation, with developing nations, especially Africa, to have a lion share, if a review by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is anything to go by.

However, there was a caveat that if proactive measures are urgently taking to halt the damning warning, ‘a meagre’ USD4.6 trillion – only a fraction of the predicted losses would be required.

The outcomes of the review, according to Managing Director of the UNCCD Global Mechanism, Juan Carlos Mendoza, have been assembled into comprehensive and easy-to-use Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Country Profiles, of which 21 are already available online.

The LDN Country Profiles reveal that average losses for these 21 countries (mostly Africa and Asia), are equivalent to nine percent of GDP, which analysts urged Nigerian government to have a look at.

According to Mendoza, this figure is even higher for some of the planet’s worst affected countries, such as the Central African Republic (CAR), where the total losses are estimated at a staggering 40 percent, with Asia and Africa bear the highest costs, estimated at USD84 billion and 65 billion per year respectively.

“Healthy land is the primary asset that supports livelihoods around the globe – from food to jobs and decent incomes. Today, we face a crisis of unseen proportions: 1.5 billion people – mainly in the world’s most impoverished countries – are trapped on degrading agricultural land. This reality is fuelling extreme poverty, particularly in areas such as the Sahel and South Asia, where extreme and erratic weather events are on the rise due to the impacts of climate change,” says UNCCD Managing Director.

Mark Anunobi, an expert in agricultural development, based in Kano, also linked the current crisis between the herds men and farmers in many states in the northern part of the country to the inability to judiciously make use of land.

“Essentially, the LDN Country Profiles aim to help guide policy decisions on land use management. The profiles are based largely on the analytical work undertaken by the Center for Development Research of the University of Bonn, the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative and the International Food Policy Research Institute.

“Globally, 169 countries are affected by land degradation and/or drought. Of these, 116 countries are committed to achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) under the UNCCD LDN Target-Setting Programme that supports countries in reaching target 15.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, with Nigeria yet to adopt a workable policy in that direction”, said Anunobi.

The report stated that Target 15.3, on Land Degradation Neutrality, encourages countries to halt land degradation in order to ensure the quantity of productive land remains stable.

“The target is now also recognized as vital for accelerating other SDGs, such as: Goal 1 (No poverty), Goal 2 (Zero hunger), Goal 5 (Promote gender equality), Goal 6 (Clean water and sanitation), Goal 8 (Decent work and economic growth), and Goal 13 (Climate action).

“The 21 countries whose profiles have been released today are also engaged in the LDN target setting process, formulating targets and associated measures to avoid, reduce and reverse land degradation”, the report indicated.  For example, the Central African Republic, has committed to restore more than 1 million hectares of degraded land – equal to 15 percent of its territory –, which will limit its potential losses and economic burden nationwide.

“The LDN Country Profiles provide policy-makers with easily accessible and scientifically sound information that can help estimate the value of their investments in land restoration and make informed choices on the economic returns they can expect from taking assertive action now. Moreover, the profiles illustrate the equivalent monetary value of land degradation and its impact on the international community, while providing strong incentives for cooperation among countries,” Mendoza adds.

“While a broader picture of the economic costs of failing to act decisively and restore available land resources will emerge as additional country profiles are released, there is no mention of what majority of governments in the West African nations are doing”, concluded Anunobi.

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