Ensuring long-term sustainable use of the land

August 14, 2014

Monique Barbut  (executive secretary of the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification) reminds us that “despite mankind’s many accomplishments, we still owe our existence to a 15 cm layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains.”

Land is essential for food security. That is why thirteen out of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals are linked to land use. Strong pressure from a growing population and changing lifestyles, coupled with competing demands for prime land, are imposing the adoption of sustainable farming practices. Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR), agroforestry and conservation agriculture are just few examples of affordable approaches that minimize water use and increase yield of farmland. Additionally, strengthening land rights is crucial to ensure long term investment on the land, which ultimately will benefit the poorest farmers while reducing the costs of adaptation to climate change. Finally, improving land management by restoring degraded agricultural land and forests will allow us to meet the growing demand for food while preserving those areas threatened by intensive agricultural use.