UNEP Report Details Transformation in Land Use

UNEP24 January 2014: A report titled 'Assessing Global Land Use: Balancing Consumption with Sustainable Supply,' which was produced by the International Resource Panel, was presented by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) at the 2014 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. The publication details the impacts of global trends such as population growth and increasing consumption on land-use dynamics. Through a look at consumption and production patterns and other global factors, it details a "dramatic transformation" in land use that has taken place in recent decades.

The report finds that 23 percent of global soil has been affected by widespread biodiversity loss and environmental degradation, attributed to increasing pressures on land by the growth of crops for protein-rich diets and for biofuels and biomaterials. Available data indicate that competition for land and food insecurity will only increase in the future, due especially to the displacement of small-holder farmers by international investors. Furthermore, the report notes that the global trend towards urbanization and urban sprawl often leads to the deterioration of agricultural lands and soils.

In presenting the report at the WEF event, Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, said, "Recognizing that land is a finite resource, we need to become more efficient in the ways we produce, supply and consume our land-based products." He looked to the policy recommendations provided in the report as important for the creation of goals, targets, and indicators for sustainable development.

The recommendations include: ensuring better land-use planning to prevent the loss of high-value nature; setting up economy-wide resource management programmes, and instruments to "trigger sustainable supply and demand"; upholding land tenure and ownership rights;  reducing food loss at the production phase and food waste at the consumption phase; and de-linking food and fuel markets.

Synergies across different levels of policy-making, as wells as dynamic learning processes, are recommended as important relationships to foster through policy design. Finally, the report calls on countries and governments to monitor and control the effects of their consumption on global land use.

The International Resource Panel is a consortium of 27 scientists, 33 national governments and other entities hosted by UNEP. [Publication: Assessing Global Land Use: Balancing Consumption with Sustainable Supply] [Report Summary] [Report Fact Sheet] [UN Press Release] [UNEP Press Release]