Policy Seminar

Economics of Land Degradation and Improvement

A Global Assessment for Sustainable Development
Dec 3, 2015 - 05:15 pm to 06:45 pm EST

With: Joachim von Braun, Director of the Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, and Professor for Economic and Technological Change | Rattan Lal, Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science and Director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, The Ohio State University, and Adjunct Professor of University of Iceland | Alisher Mirzabaev, senior researcher at the Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn | Ephraim Nkonya, senior research fellow, IFPRI.

This seminar features findings in a new book that deals with land degradation, which is occurring in almost all terrestrial biomes and agro-ecologies, in both low and high income countries. It is stretching to about 30% of the total global land area. About three billion people reside in degraded lands. However, the impact of land degradation is especially severe on livelihoods of the poor who heavily depend on natural resources. The annual global cost of land degradation due to land use and cover change (LUCC) and lower cropland and rangeland productivity is estimated to be about US$300 billion. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for the largest share (22 %) of the total global cost of land degradation.

The results indicate that reversing land degradation trends makes economic sense, and has multiple social and environmental benefits. On average, one US dollar investment into restoration of degraded land returns five US dollars. The findings of the country case studies call for increased investments into the rehabilitation and restoration of degraded lands, including through such institutional and policy measures as strengthening community participation for sustainable land management, enhancing government effectiveness and rule of law, improving access to markets and rural services, and securing land tenure.