Striking UN report makes strong call for sustainable land management to save human health


The protected Kent Falls and Park in Connecticut, USA. The GLO2 report calls on governments to build parks and restore wetlands to improve citizens’ quality of life. Credit: Alison Kentish/IPS
  • by Alison Kentish (dominica
  • Inter Press Service

The landmark Global Land Outlook, released on April 27, paints a sobering picture of the state of land on Earth and calls for ambitious sustainable land use plans to protect human health.

The report, compiled in five years in collaboration with 21 partner organizations, is considered the most comprehensive meta-analysis of land issues to date. Known as GLO2, it builds on the 2017 land survey report, which assessed the impacts of deforestation and widespread unsustainable agricultural practices on human and ecosystem health, food security and stable livelihoods.

“We have already affected almost 40% of the land and changed 70% of the land. We cannot afford to have another “lost decade” for nature and must act now for a future of living in harmony with nature. The GLO2 shows pathways, capabilities and knowledge we need to apply to effectively implement the Global Biodiversity Framework beyond 2020,” said Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary, UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

With a reminder that land is a finite resource, the report warns that current management and use increase the risk of “widespread, abrupt and irreversible environmental change.”

It also has a strong focus on solutions – especially the protection and restoration of land, soil, forest and other ecosystems.

“The report highlights the importance of protecting the remaining tropical forests, especially managing wildlife and biodiversity in a much more careful way, protecting and restoring to recover some of the damage that has been done. It highlights the tremendous opportunity that exists globally for the restoration of landscapes around the world, the potential to help improve food production, protect biodiversity, store carbon and provide livelihoods. There are huge employment opportunities associated with these activities, which in turn help make our economies more resilient,” said Tropical Forest Ecologist Dr. Nigel Sizer vs IPS.

Sizer, the executive director of Preventing Pandemics at the Source Coalition, says the report gives the world the wake-up call it needs to take urgent action to end forest destruction and human health. to protect.

“Our relationship with nature is so broken. We have heard a lot about climate change and the extinction of animal and plant species. What people didn’t realize is that pandemics are primarily a result of wildlife spillover viruses, often related to species trafficking, deforestation, and other exploitative aspects of our relationship with nature. This report highlights the massive amount of land degradation, forest loss and biodiversity loss that is underway worldwide, and offers a very important call to address those challenges, especially to governments,” he said.

The GLO2 is calling for increasingly ambitious land recovery targets, with the largest emitters of greenhouse gases helping developing countries to restore their land resources.

“As a global community, we can no longer rely on incremental reforms within traditional planning and development frameworks to address the profound development and sustainability challenges we will face in the coming decades. A rapid transformation is needed in land use and management practices that put people and nature at the heart of our planning, prioritizing job creation and building essential skills, while giving a voice to women and young people who have traditionally been marginalized in decision-making,” said Nichole Barger, report steering committee member, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado.

Sizer agrees.

“We urgently need to see governments commit to protecting what remains to restore much of what has been lost in forested forests, wetlands, freshwater systems and coastal ecosystems. This is absolutely essential to protect our food production systems, restore soils and provide livelihoods, especially in rural communities,” he told IPS.

The GLO2 has been released in what is expected to be a turning point for action on land and biodiversity, including hosting the 15th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (COP 15), planned for May 9-20 in Ivory Coast. That event is expected to focus on the revival of degraded lands and soils worldwide.

“Now that we are coming out of the pandemic, it is a great opportunity to rebuild after the economic impact this has had and the opportunity to create many jobs by restoring nature and managing the land in a more responsible way. to achieve greater sustainability, recover faster from this pandemic and reduce the risk of future pandemics,” said Sizer.

And what does not act mean?

According to the GLO2, an additional area the size of South America will be affected by 2050 if the world continues on its current path.

Report of the IPS UN Office

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© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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