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Global Land Outlook report

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Environment, conservation


Source: TH


Context: According to the 2nd edition of the Global Land Outlook (GLO) report, humans have breached four out of nine planetary boundaries.



  • It is a United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification’s (UNCCD) flagship publication, whose 1st edition was launched in 2017 at the UNCCD COP13 (China).
  • It underscores land system challenges, showcases transformative policies and practices, and points to cost-effective pathways to scale up sustainable land and water management.


Highlights of the report:

 Importance of Land: It is the operative link between biodiversity loss and climate change, which means restoring land is crucial to solving interconnected crises.


What are planetary boundaries?

  • The environmental thresholds that establish a “safe operating space for humanity” are known as planetary boundaries.
  • The nine planetary boundaries are:
    • Biodiversity loss
    • Land-use change
    • Climate change
    • Nitrogen and phosphorus (geochemical) cycles
    • Freshwater use
    • Ocean acidification
    • Chemical pollution
    • Atmospheric loading
    • Ozone depletion



  • Humans have already altered more than 70% of the earth’s land area from its natural state.
  • Of the 9 planetary boundaries, climate change, biodiversity loss, land-use change, and geochemical cycles have already been exceeded.



  • Worldwide, food systems (including agriculture) are responsible for 80% of deforestation and 70% of freshwater use and are the single greatest cause of terrestrial biodiversity loss.
  • Land degradation, desertification and drought pose a great risk to global food security as well.
    • Land degradation is the reduction or loss of biological and economic productivity of land and its constituents: soil, water, and biodiversity.


Impact: This has contributed significantly to global warming and environmental degradation → leading to a rise in poverty, hunger, inequality, zoonotic disease transmission, etc.



Effective land restoration:

  • The report defines land restoration as a continuum of activities that
    • Avoid (By eliminating practices that degrade the environment, ranging from land and ecosystem conversion to socio-economic inequalities)
    • Reduce (By adopting sustainable land and water management practices) and
    • Reverse (By revitalising soil, watersheds, and other elements of natural ecosystems) land degradation with the explicit objective of meeting human needs and improving ecology.
  • The global annual cost of land restoration is expected at ~$300 billion by 2030.
  • Each dollar invested is estimated to return between $7 and $30 in economic benefits, moving towards an equitable and sustainable future.


Achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN): LDN is a state whereby the quantity and quality of land resources required to maintain ecosystem functions and services and improve food security are steady or growing.


Integrated land use planning:

  • Identifying the best combination of land uses → sustainably meeting the needs of the stakeholders as well as preserving the land resources.
  • A cost-effective approach is to identify landscapes while maximising benefits, such as in global restoration hotspots.


Regenerative agricultural practices: Like terrace farming and rainwater harvesting → help restore land, increase crop yields, reduce GHG emissions, sequester atmospheric carbon, and create meaningful livelihoods.

Inclusive and responsible governance: It is crucial to facilitate the shift to sustainable land use and management practices.

Initiatives of Land Restoration
The Bonn Challenge (2011) is a global effort to restore 350 million hectares of the world’s degraded and deforested lands by 2030.Currently, 97.85 million hectares (mha) of land – an area 2.5 times the size of India’s largest state Rajasthan, has already been degraded.
UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration: The Decade (2021-2030) is being championed by the UNEP and FAO.In 2019, India raised its land restoration target (under the Bonn Challenge) from 21 million hectares to 26 million hectares by 2030.
The G20 Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation and Enhancing Conservation of Terrestrial Habitats: Launched in 2020, it aims to prevent, halt and reverse land degradation and reduce degraded land by 50% by 2040.Now, MGNREGS is to fund work to reverse land degradation.


Some best practices in India:

  • Holiyas: These are water management systems in Gujarat, which store rainwater below the land surface. The groundwater can be accessed and distributed using solar pumps when there is scarcity.
  • Plantopathy: It is a unique nature-based solution that can limit the impact of plant diseases on yields without pesticides or chemicals.
  • Zero budget natural farming (ZBNF): It combines traditional and emerging practices to reduce costs (i.e., zero budget) while boosting yields and overall farm health by using organic inputs sourced locally (i.e., natural farming).


Conclusion: Land restoration is a shared responsibility. Hence, governments, scientists, civil society, and private sector players need to work together to set land and ecosystem restoration goals that transform land-use systems.


Insta Links:

Forest landscape restoration