Land Degradation

Guidelines for Land Degradation Neutrality

In 2015 the UNCCD introduced the new concept of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN), which was later adopted as a target of Goal 15 of the SDGs, Life on Land: 120 countries have committed to pursue voluntary LDN targets.

The objectives of LDN are to: maintain or improve the sustainable delivery of ecosystem services; maintain or improve productivity, in order to enhance food security; increase resilience of the land and populations dependent on the land; seek synergies with other social, economic and environmental objectives; and reinforce responsible and inclusive governance of land.

The fundamental aim of LDN is to preserve the land resource base, by ensuring no net loss of healthy and productive land, at national level. This goal is to be achieved through a combination of measures that avoid, reduce and reverse land degradation. Achieving LDN requires estimating the likely cumulative impacts of land use and land management decisions, and counterbalancing anticipated losses through strategically-planned rehabilitation or restoration of degraded land, within the same land type.

These guidelines offer practical help to those developing projects which contribute to Land Degradation Neutrality.

Each of the five modules presents key concepts, principles, and practical steps for implementation.

The complete guidelines were presented in September 2019 at the UNCCD COP 14 in Delhi.

The link to a version translated into Spanish is available below.

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Sustainable Land Management for Environmental Benefits and Food Security: A synthesis report for the GEF

This report examines sustainable land management (SLM) and its potential as an integrative strategy to address multiple environmental and sustainable development objectives. It highlights the linkages between SLM and soil health, land degradation, food security, climate changes mitigation and adaptation. The report is intended to provide information and guidance on fostering SLM, to a wide range of stakeholders involved in agriculture, environmental management and sustainable development. It aims to support investment in SLM by the GEF, particularly investments in pursuit of Land Degradation Neutrality. This report:

  • explores the anthropogenic and natural drivers of land degradation, and the potential environmental and socioeconomic benefits of SLM;
  • examines the role of SLM in addressing the critical challenge of global food security
  • describes the key processes of land degradation and their impacts, as the basis for developing good practice guidance on SLM that is scientifically sound and robust;
  • proposes principles for SLM that promote soil health, productivity and ecosystem services;
  • presents a framework for identifying SLM practices suited to the context and objectives;
  • provides guidance on identifying indicators for evaluation of a site in terms of land potential and soil condition, and indicators for monitoring outcomes of SLM investments;
  • discusses the barriers to adoption of good practice for SLM; and
  • provides recommendations for developing and implementing SLM programs in ways that optimise global environmental benefits.

Recommendations are provided to guide GEF investment in support of SLM, and planning of SLM programs.



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Managing Soil Organic Carbon for Global Benefits

The natural environment is a dynamic, integrated system of processes which fuse together to create the basis of life on the planet. Soil is one of the most vital and necessary components of this system – particularly through its interactions in climate change processes, water management and terrestrial ecosystems. The STAP Publication on Managing Soil Organic Carbon for Global Benefits presents a well grounded overview of the current technical and scientific knowledge of soil organic carbon. It highlights how soil organic management should be an important component of future strategy for the Global Environment Facility and for sustainable development, both as an effective method of climate change mitigation and as a crucial component in addressing global food security. Please note however, that whilst this document may provide a scientific underpinning of the topic, it is not intended to focus on all aspects of SOC dynamics in detail. Rather it should be used as a knowledge tool in the implementation of optimal SOC Management within various agro-ecological systems. Publication Date: August 2013 Authors: Gerard Govers, Roel Merckx, Kristof Van Oost and Bas van Wesemael DOWNLOAD

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Land Degradation As A Global Issue

Asynthesis of three studies commissioned by the Global Environment Facility to strengthen the knowledge base to support the Land Degradation Focal Area. The report presents a number of recommendations for advancing the relevance of land degradation investments by the GEF, and identifies priority topics in SLM for the GEF. Some of these topics are particularly suited to achieving global environmental benefits as incremental activities in development projects and in the work of other agencies such as the CGIAR. The report urges the GEF to accept that land degradation is one of the greatest threats to the integrity of ecosystems, and to continue to capitalize on its substantial institutional advantage in funding investments in cross-focal area linkages and in further developing integrated approaches that are fully inclusive of SLM.

Publication Date: November 2006 Authors: Michael Stocking DOWNLOAD

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Title: Sustainable Land Management and Conservation of Oases Ecosystems in Libya


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Title: SIP-Community Driven SLM for Environmental and Food Security


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Title: Participatory Assessment of Land Degradation and Sustainable Land Management in Grassland and Pastoral Systems


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Title: SIP-Enabling Environment for SLM to overcome land degradation in the cattle corridor of Uganda.


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Title: Sustainable Land Management for Increased Productivity



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Title: Decision Support for Mainstreaming and Scaling up of Sustainable Land Management


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