The global potential for land restoration: Scenarios for the Global Land Outlook 2

04-06-2021 | Rapport

Land restoration has the potential to deliver multiple environmental and societal benefits simultaneously, making it a highly integrated solution for sustainable development. This study quantifies the potential effects of land restoration for soil, food, water, biodiversity and climate change  at the global and regional levels, using three global land-use scenarios up to 2050.

Photo Paramos Ecological Restoration Project, Colombia, 2020

Land restoration: multiple benefits

Land restoration has the potential to deliver multiple benefits simultaneously, making it a highly integrated solution for sustainable development. The way that land is used, managed and protected is central to achieving the goals of the UN Conventions on land degradation and desertification, climate change and biodiversity, as well as many of the Sustainable Development Goals. This is because the choices, synergies and trade-offs between sustainability ambitions often materialise on land. Over the past years, attention to and ambitions for restoration have gained momentum, culminating in the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030).

Potential effects: scenarios

This study quantifies the potential effects of land restoration at the global and regional levels. Three global land-use scenarios up to 2050 were constructed and analysed to provide a view of the extent and risks of land degradation, and to estimate the potential of land restoration compared to a future without restoration. These three scenarios are the Baseline, Restoration and Restoration & Protection scenarios. The effects of land restoration were assessed for natural area, biodiversity, soil organic carbon, agricultural yields, water regulation and carbon storage.

Restoration commitments

Current global restoration commitments cover around one fifth of the potential area that can be restored in scenarios. Implementation of these commitments costs an estimated 300 to 1600 billion US$. The stimulation of land restoration measures requires countries to integrate restoration into existing policies and institutions. Land restoration and protection measures provide an important part of the solutions to realise internationally agreed goals, but need to be combined with changes to production, supply chains and consumption patterns to bring these goals within reach.

Global Land Outlook 2

This PBL study on global restoration scenarios was carried out at the request of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which was established to combat land degradation, desertification and drought. The Convention addresses the improvement of living conditions of people in drylands and the restoration of degraded land and soils. This PBL study is a central component of the Global Land Outlook, 2nd edition that will be published late 2021.

The unformatted edited final full report can be requested from the authors. The full formatted report will be available shortly online.

Nature-based Solutions and Scenario website

This report also features in the Nature-based Solutions and Scenario website. This website informs decision-makers about the potential of nature-based solutions in addressing global sustainability challenges. By linking potential global pathways to 2050, solutions and inspiring cases, this website showcases how global sustainability goals can be connected to local level actions that help to not only conserve and restore nature but also build back better and greener in an uncertain world.