In 2015 we celebrated world leaders’ recognition of the foundational and strategic role that sustainable land management must play to advance biodiversity conservation and climate resilience.
Six years after the SDGs were set in motion and more than a third of the way into their implementation timeframe, it is important to assess how far we have come: what have countries done to address their ambitious but critical cross-cutting commitments to combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world? This assessment is particularly timely given that the 2021 High Level Political Forum reviewed progress toward SDG 13 on climate action and considered the integrated, indivisible, and interlinked nature of the SDGs. As such, we studied progress towards land-focused elements of reports on SDG 13 as well as SDG 15 to “protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and half and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. ”
There are indeed countries that have advanced their SDG land degradation and restoration commitments. Some have undertaken thoughtful planning or allocated new resources. Others have augmented or strengthened land restoration and sustainable land management practices in an inclusive way. A few have introduced ambitious reforms, established new national programs, or drafted new legislation to ensure long-term efficacy. However, our review suggests that many countries have yet to prioritize land degradation neutrality in their national development agendas and most have not undertaken significant action. Even those who have acted decisively have a long way to go before their new laws, policies and strategies are fully implemented, or their programs reach the necessary scale
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