Improving the way we develop and use land and soils

Photo credit: Treble Karma


Sustainable Land Use Could Avert Crises, Add $76 Billion to World Income

At a time when environmental degradation and climate change challenge the fundamental basis for societies and economies worldwide, researchers around the world have been working diligently to put a monetary value on all the services ecosystems provide.

Aiming to better inform policymakers and the public regarding the trade-offs inherent in choosing alternative land use and development paths and allocating capital among investments, researchers working under the umbrella of The Economics of Land Degradation Initiative (ELD) have determined that improving the way we develop and use land and soils could add as much as $75.6 billion a year to worldwide income.

Not only that, effectively addressing the issue of land and soil degradation would go a long way towards avoiding humanitarian crises that would have destabilizing impacts on many nations, particularly those such as the US and EU where floods of immigrants have sparked public outcry, demonstrations and conflict. 

Avoiding forced migrations and adding $76 billion to world income

According to ELD’s ¨The Value of Land: Prosperous lands and positive rewards through sustainable land management,¨ an estimated 50 million people may be forced to abandon their livelihoods and leave their homes to seek new ones in the next 10 years.

Four years in the making, 30 prominent international research and policy institutes contributed to ELD’s 2015 report. Guiding th ELD Initiative were Hamilton, Ontario-based UN University Institute for Water, Environment and Health and CGIAR, a consortium of international agricultural research centers.


The ELD Initiative found that more than half (52 percent) of agricultural land worldwide is moderately or severely degraded. The resulting effects reach far beyond food and agriculture, however.

Read the full article: Treble Karma


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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