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Scientists struggling to put land degradation into SDGs

Author: SciDev.Net – Jan Piotrowski

Lack of data and poor communication by scientists may be keeping land degradation and desertification off the sustainable development agenda, experts warned the UN Convention to Combat Desertification’s (UNCCD) 2nd Scientific Conference last week (9–12 April).

The fear is that these challenges could cause land management issues to be under-represented in the UN’s next set of development targets, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are planned to replace theMillennium Development Goals after 2015.

“The science is not strong enough to make a case to policymakers and we need to fight to develop this area,” says Sergio Zelaya, a global policy coordinator at UNCCD.

The shortage of case studies showing the environmental and economic causes and effects of land degradation — particularly at a local level — as well as a scarcity of indicators and targets to measure the process, make it hard for politicians to include these issues in the development agenda, he tellsSciDev.Net.

His calls for more research were repeated by experts throughout the conference, including by UNCCD executive secretary Luc Gnacadja in his closing address.



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Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.