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High demands, little lands to share: competing claims on the common resource base

Infographic | 06-07-2017

Land, in terms of surface area and the quality of soils and vegetation, is essential for the provision of food, fibre, energy and water, for conserving biodiversity and for regulating climate. Fertile land, suitable for agriculture, is abundant in some countries and scarce in others.

Current trends suggest there will be increasing demands on land. More people and growing wealth require more land for the production of food, fibre and bio-energy, for urban settlement and for afforestation for the mitigation of climate change, while an increasing demand for nature conservation areas reduces the amount of land available for other purposes. The difficulty of balancing these competing claims on land are further exacerbated by climate change and land degradation that reduce productivity of the land.

The sustainability of future land use depends primarily on effective land management, including land-use allocation and access to land. The scope of land management is mostly local or national, whereas land itself has increasingly acquired a global dimension, through trade, foreign investment and global concerns about climate change, food security and nature conservation. Despite these emerging challenges, there is reason for hope. Improving the sustainability and efficiency of land-use management could connect many of the SDGs.

Source data

Nkonya E, Mirzabaev A and Von Braun J. (2016). Economics of Land Degradation and Improvement: A Global Assessment for Sustainable Development. Springer.

PBL. (forthcoming). Exploring the impact of changes in land use and land condition on food, water, climate change mitigation and biodiversity; Scenarios for the UNCCD Global Land Outlook. PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague.

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