The consumption of the planet’s natural reserves has doubled in the last thirty years, with one third of the soils being severely degraded. This warns a report presented at the 13th United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
Presented at a meeting in Ordos, China, The Global Land Outlook points out that each year the planet loses about 15 billion trees and 24 billion tons of fertile soil.
“Smallholder farmers, women and indigenous communities are the most vulnerable populations, given the reliance on land resources, but also because of the lack of infrastructure and economic development”, the document reads.
Currently, according to the same source, more than 1.3 billion people are trapped in degraded agricultural land and dramatically increased the struggle for basic services such as food, water and energy.
Charting a scenario for land demand by the year 2050, the report also highlights that better planning and sustainable practices could help achieve many of the Millennium Development Goals.
“Land degradation and drought are fundamental challenges that are closely related to most, if not all, aspects of human security and well-being such as food security, employment and migration”, said the executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCTAD), Monique Barbut.
Achim Steiner of the United Nations Development Program also stressed in the presentation of the document that more than 250 million people are directly affected by desertification and that around one billion others are at risk in a hundred countries.
“A minority has been enriched by unsustainable use and the large-scale exploitation of land resources” and it is therefore necessary to rethink the way of planning, using and managing soils, which will determine the future of resources and the success or failure of the reduction poverty, food security and water and reducing the risks of climate change, it is said in the document.
Further, “The current pressures on the earth’s earthly resources are greater than at any other time in the history of mankind”. From 1998 to 2013, about 20% of the land surface covered by vegetation lost productivity, and poor land management practices account for 25% of greenhouse gases.
The United Nations estimates that sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa will be regions that will face major problems in the future due to land degradation, but also demographic growth, poverty, lack of water and “high losses of biodiversity “. Situations that will increase the risk of violent conflict and large-scale migration.
The report is divided into three parts, the first on the current state of land use in the world, the second on the major challenges, and the third with six proposals for producers, consumers, governments and other entities, including planning, adaptation and optimization of crops, or incentives for sustainable consumption and production.