|Main authors:||Catherine Bowyer , Clunie Keenleyside, Silvia Nanni, Anouchka Hoffmann, Nathalie van Haren , Karin van Boxtel, Paul Wolvekamp|
|iSQAPERiS editor:||Jane Brandt|
|Source document:||Bowyer, C. et al. (2018) Initial stocktaking report on existing policy measures. iSQAPER Project Deliverable 8.1, 125 pp|
To further illustrate the interconnections between several of the SDGs, soil health and sustainable land use, in the following Sections we will look more closely at nine goals and fifteen related targets. We will also elaborate on the specifics of some of the most salient socio-economic (notably gender and land tenure aspects), ecological and governance dimensions that these SDGs bring to the fore; furthermore, we will examine how these translate into methodological approaches (e.g. in terms of measuring [levels of] environmental stress in relation to agricultural productivity and pollution) and concrete policy recommendations.
These are the land related SDGs and targets:
|SDG 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere|
|Target 1.4:||By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance.|
|Target 1.5:||By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.|
|SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture|
|Target 2.3:||By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment.|
|Target 2.4:||By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality.|
|SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages|
|Target 3.9:||By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination.|
|SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls|
|Target 5a:||Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.|
|SDG 10: Reduce inequalities within and among countries|
|Target 10.1:||By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average.|
|SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns|
|Target 12.4:||By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.|
|SDG 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss|
|Target 15.2:||By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.|
|Target 15.3:||By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world.|
|Target 15.a:||Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems.|
|SDG 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.|
|Target 16.3:||Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.|
|Target 16.7:||Ensure responsive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.|
|SDG 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development|
|Target 17.6:||Enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge-sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism.|
|Target 17.16:||Enhance the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, in particular developing countries.|
By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance.
Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure (Tier 3, Custodians: World Bank, UN-Habitat; partner agencies FAO, UNSD, UN Women, UNEP, IFAD)
By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.
Number of deaths, missing persons and persons affected by disaster per 100,000 people (Tier 2, Custodian UNISDR , partner agencies UN-Habitat, UNEP, DESA Population Division)
Direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) (Tier 2, Custodian UNISDR, partner agencies: UNEP, FAO)
Number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies (Tier 2, custodian: UNISDR, partner agency: UNEP)
The establishment of the SDGs in 2015 involved a discussion around the need to recognise land user rights in the targets and indicators , . This links to the wider debates on sustainable development in which the relevance of land user rights in social and economic rights has gained ground. The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT), adopted by the UN Committee on World Food Security in 2012, articulate the importance of land tenure rights of female and male farmers, pastoralists, customary land users, young, poor and Indigenous peoples in realising sustainable land use and the right to food, as well as the roles and responsibilities of governments, the private sector and civil society. Article 115 in ‘The Future We Want’ calls for the implementation of the tenure guidelines .
Target 1.4 and the related indicators underpin the crucial role of tenure governance in both sustainable development and ending poverty. Secure land tenure rights enable people to sustainably use their land with a long-term view . In many countries, particularly in the Global South, the majority of people do not have formally recognised rights to their land. In particular, women, pastoralists, indigenous peoples and young people often lack control over the land on which they live. This is increasingly problematic, as growing pressures caused by both demographic change and heightened demand for food, fodder, fuel and minerals (as a result of increased international trade) lead to increased competition for land and natural resources.
This ecological footprint articulates the linkages between the consumption of products in the EU and the production of these on lands in Southern countries. Consumers in EU have in this way an impact on tenure and use of land in Southern countries . Secure tenure rights may be a strong enabling factor for people to sustainably use their land, especially in an environment where they can access the right knowledge and means, which benefits soil health . Indicator 1.4.2 addresses these issues by referring to both legally recognised and perceived land (user) rights of women and men, and different tenure types, such as formal or customary rights .
Indicator 1.4.2. is categorized in Tier 3, meaning there are not yet suitable methods or instruments to effectively measure the progress on this indicator . The understanding of the indicator and its concepts is based on the VGGT, as the international leading guidelines on land tenure. As custodians, the World Bank and UN Habitat will stimulate the use of existing administrative data on registered lands and household surveys for monitoring purposes and assisting national governments. Yet, both are researching what additional data are needed and how these can be obtained.
Progress on indicator 1.4.2. will be measured by dealing with the data in two complementary ways: firstly by measuring the incidence of people with secure tenure rights over land among the total population; secondly by focusing on the perceived secure rights to land among the population or communities . A difficulty to measure the progress on this indicator is that countries are not obligated to monitor progress. For example, the Netherlands has stated that it almost completely complies with indicator 1.4.2 and that the indicator is not applicable to the country . Data and understanding of the challenges and how they vary globally will, however, not exist in the absence of a commitment to report. A challenge remains to urge governments to report on the progress of the indicator.
Target 1.5 also has a strong, albeit indirect, land component. Without secure tenure rights, most farmers are reluctant to make the kinds of long-term investments in and improvements to their land that foster environmental resilience . Land tenure security can increase farmers’ decision-making power and choices to implement farming techniques that include investing in soil health that are more resilient to climate change. Investing in strong community forest tenure security has also been shown to be a cost-effective measure for climate-change mitigation when compared with other mitigation measures. For example, China’s forest land tenure reforms have increased forestry’s contribution to household income and reforestation, and have improved the ability of China’s farmers to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
3. SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment.
Volume of production per labour unit by classes of farming/pastoral/forestry enterprise size (Tier 3, custodian: FAO)
Average income of small-scale food producers, by sex and indigenous status (Tier 3, custodian: FAO, partner agency World Bank)
By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality.
Proportion of agricultural area under productive and sustainable agriculture (Tier 3, custodian: FAO, partner agency UNEP)
The second SDG links hunger, food and nutrition security with sustainable agriculture , which illustrates the connection between environmental sustainability and social inclusion in the SDGs. While Target 2.3 focuses on the nexus of agricultural productivity and social inclusion, Target 2.4 zooms in on the relationship between agricultural productivity and the environment. This attention is also translated into Indicators 2.3.1 and 2.3.2, which focus on income and increased production per land user (not per hectare), and Indicator 2.4.1, which aims to grasp the area under productive and sustainable agriculture. There is tension between the volume produced per unit of labour by classes of enterprise size (2.3.1) and the area under productive and sustainable agriculture (2.4.1). Because the former may imply intensified agricultural production, the question that is next raised is, how can production be intensified sustainably? In addition, the three targets may suggest that land users or workers per area will decrease so that the produced volumes per unit of labour will increase (bulk-wise, not the nutritional value), while at the same time, the income of land users will be monitored. These targets might influence the creation of policies that promote large-scale agricultural systems (monocultures and bulk production), where only a small number of people will find employment.
Olivier De Schutter, the former Special Rapporteur on the right to food, argues that agricultural techniques that both have a low level of external inputs and preserve agricultural biodiversity, such as agroecology, have shown increased food production ratios at different farms and in various areas . The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) confirms that food production can especially increase when diversified agro-ecological methods are applied in situations of environmental stress due to climate change (such as drylands or soil degradation) .
The challenge posed in realising SDG 2 is balancing productivity increases, environmental sustainability and social inclusion in agricultural and food systems, especially in the long run. From this perspective, the interconnectedness of SDG 2 with other goals, like SDGs 3, 12, 15 and 16, becomes very relevant.
FAO is custodian of the indicators 2.3.1, 2.3.2 and 2.4.1. The FAO Statistics division, together with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank, are developing a harmonised programme of Agricultural and Rural Integrated Surveys (AGRIS). These surveys can form the basis for the collection of data on several land-related SDG indicators. The AGRIS programme will provide methodological guidelines on how to conduct surveys in agriculture .
Indicator 2.3.1 has a Tier 3 classification. FAO comments that sources of information can either be agricultural surveys or agricultural modules in integrated household surveys (e.g. LSMS-ISA) organised by national statistical agencies, with necessary support of the World Bank, the FAO and other international agencies, to ensure methodological rigour .
For Indicator 2.3.2: Average income of small-scale food producers, by sex and Indigenous status, FAO has not yet developed a methodology.
FAO defines Indicator 2.4.1 as follows:
% of land under productive and sustainable agriculture = (Area under productive and sustainable agriculture) / (Agricultural area)
Where: agricultural area = arable land + permanent crops + permanent meadows and pastures
The denominator agricultural area is a well-known and established indicator that is collected by national statistical offices and compiled internationally by FAO. These data are available from the FAO’s database, FAOSTAT.
The numerator which is the area under productive and sustainable agriculture captures the environmental, economic and social dimensions of production. The farm surveys, which is the proposed measurement instrument, will give countries the flexibility to identify issues that are most relevant to their priorities and challenges within these three sustainability dimensions.
Land under productive and sustainable agriculture is thus those farms that satisfy the indicators selected across all three dimensions. The main points on which the numerator is based are as follows:
- Maintain the natural resource base in order to ensure sufficient productivity for the foreseeable future.
- Ensure a sufficient level of income in order to keep the livelihood of the entire family steadily above the poverty line and in accordance with the development objectives of the country.
- Provide access to safety nets, ensure flexibility in the face of both market and natural shocks and ensure clear ownership and tenure rights, with no discrimination on the basis of gender .
By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination.
Mortality rate attributed to unintentional poisoning (Tier 2, custodian: WHO, partner agency World Bank)
Healthy lives and well-being for all involve many aspects and topics. Target 3.9 specifically links human health to environmental health, such as air, water and soil. Since the Green Revolution began in the 1960s, agrochemicals have increasingly been used as pesticides (herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, insect growth regulators, nematicides, miticides, molluscicides, rodenticides, etc.) and fertilisers to improve agricultural yields .
However, the Green Revolution came at a high social and environmental cost, including the depletion of soils, the pollution of groundwater, and increased inequalities among farmers. Furthermore, the productivity gains were not always long-term sustainable and relied heavily on agrochemicals . The runoff and infiltration of these agrochemicals, which contain toxic substances and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, affect the air, water and soil health, and therefore human lives . In addition to the impacts that pollution has on communities and the ecosystem, the health of farmers and workers using these agrochemicals, due to direct contact or long-term exposure, is also impacted; in fact, the agrochemicals may lead to unintentional poisoning (see Indicator 3.9.3).
Although awareness on the impacts of agrochemicals has risen throughout the years, the challenge remains to reduce their usage in order to ensure healthy lives and well-being for all. In this regard, it is also important to look at SDG 14 on oceans, where Target 14.1 states: By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution. The corresponding indicator (14.1.1) is: Index of coastal eutrophication and floating plastic debris density. This indicator also makes the wider connection to nutrient pollution associated with inputs to agricultural land and systems.
The Special Rapporteur on the right to food, together with the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, argues:
"Today, hazardous pesticides are in excessive use, inflicting damage on human health and ecosystems around the world, and their use is poised to increase in the coming years. Safer practices exist and can be developed further to minimise the impacts of such excessive, in some cases unnecessary, use of pesticides that violate a number of human rights. A rise in organic agricultural practices in many places illustrates that farming with less or without any pesticides is feasible."
Ferew Lemma of the Ethiopian Ministry of Health turned this issue around during her intervention at Global Soil Week 2017 by stating:
"Nutrition starts in the soil. Whatever grows is what we eat: microminerals in our foods come from our soils. Soil is the foundation of nutrition and health and ultimately our food security. Take care of the soil and the soil will take care of you."
The World Health Organisation (WHO) as custodian of Indicator 3.9.3 has proposed a guideline for measurement. It suggests:
"The methods used for the analysis concerning causes of death depend on the type of data available from countries. For countries with a high-quality vital registration system, including information on causes of death, the vital registration that member states submit to the WHO Mortality Database can be used, with adjustments where necessary, e.g. for the under-reporting of deaths. For countries without high-quality death registration data, the causes of death estimates can be calculated using other data, including household surveys with verbal autopsies, samples, sentinel registration systems, special studies and surveillance systems. In most cases, these data sources are combined in a modelling framework."
(a) Proportion of total agricultural population with ownership or secure rights over agricultural land, by sex; and (b) share of women among owners or rights-bearers of agricultural land, by type of tenure (Tier 2, custodians FAO, UN Women, UNSD, partner agencies UNEP, World Bank, UN-Habitat)
Proportion of countries where the legal framework (including customary law) guarantees women’s equal rights to land ownership and/or control (Tier 3, FAO, World Bank, UN Women)
Target 5 of SDG 5 integrates gender, land use and tenure rights. While mainstreaming gender in various parts of policies and practices is often a challenge, gender commitments within the SDGs are not limited to one goal. Gender and women’s rights are also integrated into other SDGs, for instance, through sex-segregated indicators or targets.
Women and men play different roles when it comes to land use. On a global scale, women produce more than half of all the world’s food. In sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, they grow up to 80 per cent of basic food. In Asia, they provide from 50 to 90 per cent of the labour for rice cultivation. In China, women provide over 50% of all agricultural labour. In addition, women are primarily responsible for preparing, storing and processing food. They also handle livestock, gather food, fodder and fuelwood and manage the domestic water supply, as well as providing most of the labour for post-harvest activities.
Despite this, it is men that regularly have more direct access to land tenure and land-related assets (see Figure 1). For example, across Europe, women typically own less than 30 per cent of landholdings, with only Italy, Austria, Romania and the Baltic States faring better. In China, women are legally guaranteed land tenure rights equal to men. However, a 2011 survey of over 1,700 households across 17 provinces indicated that only 17.1% of the existing contracts and 38.2% of the existing certificates include women’s names. Compared to men, women often participate less in decision-making processes at both the community level and in broader political processes. In the spirit of the SDGs to leave no one behind, it is, therefore, important to monitor access to ownership and control over land, as incorporated in Target 5a and the related indicators .
Indicator 5.a.1 (a) and (b) on women’s ownership of or secure rights to agricultural land is already disseminating by the FAO through the FAO Gender and Land Rights Database. The indicator is classified as Tier 2 and FAO is together with UN Women, UNSD custodian of the indicator. As of May 2015, the database included 83 country profiles, which contain key information on women's land rights and information about customary land tenure and gender and land-related policies. The database has a tool for assessing the extent to which national legal frameworks enable gender-equitable land tenure, assessing 30 legal indicators in different countries .
For indicator 5.a.2, a guideline for measurement has been developed by the FAO. Indicator 5.a.2 is classified as Tier 3. The data is currently being collected through FAO’s Legal Assessment Tool for gender-equitable land tenure. Indicator 5.a.2 collects policy objectives, draft provisions, existing legal provisions and implementing legislation which reflects good practices and that guarantee women’s land (user) rights. Information is then classified by stage of incorporation into the policy and legal framework, using a scale from 0 to 4:
- Stage 0: Absence of all proxies in the legal framework
- Stage 1: A draft policy document provides for the adoption of one or more proxy
- Stage 1.5: A formally adopted policy document provides for the adoption of one or more proxy
- Stage 2: A bill contains one or more proxy
- Stage 3: Primary law contains one or more proxy
- Stage 4: Secondary legislation contains one or more proxy .
Twenty-three countries are currently assessed through the Legal Assessment Tool, namely Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tunisia and Uruguay .
By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average.
Growth rates of household expenditure or income per capita among the bottom 40 per cent of the population and the total population (Tier 1, Custodian: World Bank )
Land ownership and land tenure are critical factors in determining levels of inequality within countries, and thus has a direct bearing on achieving target 10.1. Even in an era of hyper-globalisation, land retains primary importance as a factor of production, store of wealth, and source of status.
This is especially true in predominantly agrarian societies. Land plays a central role in sustaining rural livelihoods and income generation, and the allocation of land holdings influences the ability of households to exploit farm assets and invest in farm technologies. A relatively even distribution of land holdings therefore tends to correlate with a narrower gap in extremes between rich and poor households.
Source: Rights and Resources International http://rightsandresources.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Secure_Community_Land_Rights_Women_SDGs-1024x687.jpg
At the same time, insure secure land rights limits investment and the up-take of new approaches, practices and technologies in agriculture and undermines sustainable land management. Insecure land rights are thus a major source of social and economic inequality around the world. Increasing tenure security can allow rural households – even those producing on relatively small parcels of land – to invest in their farms through adopting longer-term measures such as soil erosion controls, agroforestry systems, fishponds and the introduction of new experimental technologies. These types of investments typically increase the overall incomes and long-term resilience of small farms, helping to close the gap between household earnings.
Within households, increasing land tenure security for women – who in many countries are the primary food producers – is a vital strategy for enabling rural women to achieve income parity with men, and to raise their social status (also relating to target 5.a).
By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.
Number of parties to international multilateral environmental agreements on hazardous waste, and other chemicals that meet their commitments and obligations in transmitting information as required by each relevant agreement (Tier 1, Custodian: UNEP)
Hazardous waste generated per capita and proportion of hazardous waste treated, by type of treatment (Tier 3, Custodian: UNSD, UNEP, partner organisations: OECD, Eurostat)
As food production and consumption lead to substantial environmental and human health impacts, Target 12.4 aims to reduce the release of chemicals and waste to the air, water and soil. This target relates to Target 3.9 to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination. There are currently more than 40 international multilateral environmental agreements worldwide .
However, not all of these agreements have been ratified by every country. Furthermore, the efficiency of the agreements depends on the extent to which they are implemented in each country’s legal framework and in practice . There are four international multilateral environmental agreements on chemicals or waste, namely:
- The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (into force in 1992).
- The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (into force in 2004).
- The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (into force in 2004).
- The Minamata Convention on Mercury (not yet in force).
Measuring Indicator 12.4.1 thus covers a commitment of states, not the actual implementation of it. Indicator 12.4.4 is classified as Tier 1.
Statistics for the overall hazardous waste generated per capita, as Indicator 12.4.2 refers to, have already been collected at the international level by United Nations Statistics Division, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Eurostat.
However, the concepts and definitions behind these statistics are not all described by internationally agreed methodologies and are not entirely harmonised among these entities, therefore Indicator 12.4.3 is classified as Tier 3. The United Nations Environmental Programme and the United Nations Statistics Division expect to have a methodology developed by the end of 2017 .
8. SDG 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.
Progress towards sustainable forest management (Tier 2, custodian: FAO)
By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world.
Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area (Tier 3, custodian: UNCCD, partner agencies: FAO, UNEP)
Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems.
Official development assistance and public expenditure on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems Tier 1/3, Custodians OECD, UNEP, World Bank)
Goal 15, relating to the protection and restoration of terrestrial ecosystems, has several crucial land-related components. Target 15.2, which concerns the protection of forests and efforts towards reforestation, is arguably impossible to achieve without parallel efforts to secure the land rights of forest-based communities.
A growing body of evidence underscores that secure land rights for forest communities are the best defence against forest destruction. This reflects the growing recognition of the limits of centralised state natural resource management and the role strengthened and devolved land rights for communities plays in the conservation and stewardship of natural resources. Conversely, the maintenance of forests is vital to the food and livelihood security of rural farming households in the Global South. For example, one comprehensive global study in 2014 revealed that forests contribute almost as much to rural incomes as agricultural crops, with about 28 per cent of total household income derived from forests and other natural areas. The FAO is the custodian agency providing guidance on Indicator 15.2.1, which was upgraded in 2016 from a Tier 3 to a Tier 2 indicator.
Target 15.3 is designed to galvanise action to combat land degradation and desertification. Out of the world’s 192 UN Member States, 169 have declared that they are affected by land degradation. Indicator 15.3.1 is classified as Tier 3. The UNCCD is the custodian to give guidance on Indicator 15.3.1.
One concept that has gained traction as a way of assessing, controlling and countering land degradation (including soil loss) is Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN). The purpose of LDN is to maintain or even improve the amount of healthy and productive land resources over time and in accordance with national priorities for sustainable development. LDN is a goal that can be achieved at local, national and even regional scale. At the heart of LDN are sustainable land management (SLM) practices that result in sufficient yield and enhance the resilience of the land and land-dependent communities, while simultaneously avoiding land degradation. Because the SDGs primarily encourage national level action, striving to achieve a land degradation neutral world has been interpreted as, “a world where nations individually strive to achieve land degradation neutrality”.
The focus and aim of LDN is to maintain and improve the productivity of the land through sustainable management and the restoration of the soil, water and biodiversity, while contributing to SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 13 (climate action) and the implementation of the VGGT. According to UNCCD:
"LDN does not advocate for market-based offset or compensation schemes, which have been proven to be complex, problematic and generally ineffective."
LDN encourages inclusive and participatory land use planning at local, national and regional levels through disaggregated targets for SLM and ecosystem restoration. It provides the flexibility to establish baselines for monitoring, to evaluate trade-offs and to prioritise action on the ground at the appropriate scale .
The metrics for LDN are:
- Land cover (land cover change through nationally-refined FAO Land Cover Classification System (LCCS)classes).
- Land productivity (net primary productivity, tDM/ha/yr).
- Carbon stocks (soil organic carbon, tC/ha, to 30 cm).
If any of the three metrics shows significant negative change, it is considered a loss, or degraded land. Conversely, if at least one metric shows a significant positive change and none show a significant negative change, the result is considered a gain, or restored land .
Indicator 15.a.1 is classified as Tier 1 and 3 as it is compiled out of different components (Official Development Assistance and Public Expenditures). It is defined as the gross disbursements of the total official development assistance (ODA) for biodiversity from all donors (e.g. donors in the Development Assistance Committee of OECD, other donors and multilateral organisations). The sum of the ODA flows from the donors to the developing countries quantifies the public effort for biodiversity in these countries. The ODA marked for biodiversity is captured via the biodiversity marker in the Creditor Reporting System of the OECD; this marker was introduced to this system in 2002. The ‘ODA’ part is therefore classified as Tier 1. The ‘public expenditures’ part is classified as Tier 3 and has no work plan yet .
Indicator 15.a.1 does not include private sector resources; as these will be increasingly mobilised (for instance, through the LDN Fund), monitoring these resources and determining the ways in which they contribute to LDN would also be very interesting.
Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.
Proportion of victims of violence in the previous 12 months who reported their victimisation to competent authorities or officially recognised conflict resolution mechanisms (Tier 2, Custodian UNODC, partner agencies UN Women, UNFPA, WHO)
Ensure responsive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.
Proportion of population who believe decision-making is inclusive and responsive by sex, age, disability and population group (Tier 3, Custodian UNDP)
Insecure land rights are a major source of conflict around the world. Land is inextricably tied to the use and management of natural resources; including oil and gas, precious metals, minerals, timber and water. In many countries, uncertainty of land ownership has resulted in competition for control over these valuable resources, driving localised land grabbing and creating conflict between individuals, companies, communities and the state. In many cases, governments play an active role in this process, both by failing to adequately define and protect customary land rights and informal user rights, and by conducting land deals that violate the rights of communities. An estimated 93% of concessions granted to investors in emerging economies for extractive activities are already occupied, setting the stage for widespread expropriation and violence. A study of civil conflicts since 1990 has shown that land was at the root of the majority of them.
Two targets within Goal 16 relate directly to these concerns. Target 16.3 directs states to “Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all”. Upholding and implementing existing international and domestic laws would have a significant positive impact on community land tenure; while ensuring equal access to justice would enable millions of displaced people to get redress for past injustices. Target 16.7, meanwhile, encourages “participatory and representative decision-making”. This relates to the concept of “free, prior and informed consent”, enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the VGGT with regards to the right of indigenous communities to maintain control over decisions regarding if, when and how their traditional lands are used by others. It also relates directly to Principle 6 of the VGGT, which states the responsible governance of land should include consultation and participate of stakeholders affected by potential land use changes. In addition, land deals in regions of weak governance are often associated with corruption . As such, efforts to “substantially reduce corruption in all its forms”, as set out in Target 16.5, would have a hugely positive impact on land governance.
10. SDG 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
Enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge-sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism.
Number of science and/or technology cooperation agreements and programmes between countries, by type of cooperation (Tier 3, Custodian: UNESCO-UIS)
Enhance the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, in particular developing countries.
Number of countries reporting progress in multi-stakeholder development effectiveness monitoring frameworks that support the achievement of the sustainable development goals (Tier 2, Custodians OECD, UNDP, Partner agency UNEP)
The above-mentioned goals are ambitious in striving for a sustainable world. Realising responsible governance of land, sustainable management and use of land, as well as ensuring healthy soils by 2030, require the commitment of various stakeholders. As SDG 17 points out, the SDGs are not solely a matter of the UN Member States; instead, there is a need for close collaboration with and between civil society organisations, scientists, academics, the private sector, citizens, local authorities, national governments and international organisations. These partnerships aim to develop and exchange expertise, knowledge and technology, as well as the mobilisation of financial resources.
The emphasis on multi-stakeholder partnerships is not new and has been incorporated in previous initiatives related to sustainable development and land. The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, for instance, stress that ‘responsible investments […] should be made working in partnership with relevant levels of government and local holders of tenure rights to land, fisheries and forests, respecting their legitimate tenure rights’ . The guidelines also strongly encourage states to organise multi-stakeholder platforms in local, national and international settings in order to implement the guidelines.
In addition, the 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development points to the importance of cooperation to mobilise sufficient financial means for the realisation of the SDGs; furthermore, this agenda stimulates stakeholders to set up platforms through which capacities can be strengthened and scientific developments, technologies and innovations can be exchanged .
Indicator 17.6.1 is classified as Tier 3 and its custodian is UNESCO-UIS. It is at the moment of writing not clear when a measurement methodology will be developed.
Indicator 17.16.1 is classified as Tier 2 and its custodians are OECD and UNDP. It assesses the number of countries that report progress on multi-stakeholder monitoring frameworks, which track effective development cooperation for the achievement of the SDGs. This indicator is presented as the global aggregate number of countries. According to OECD and UNDP:
"For any country reporting on one (or more) multi-stakeholder development effectiveness framework(s), it is considered to be reporting progress when, for the year of reference, the number of indicators within the framework(s) that experienced a positive trend is greater than the number of indicators that experienced a negative trend (relative to the previous reporting round)…
The design of the indicator has practical benefits: (a) the indicator allows for relevant monitoring frameworks to be updated in line with evolving commitments and country specific context without affecting the spirit of the indicator; (b) the indicator does not presume a globally-set multi-stakeholder framework, acknowledging the diversity of complementary efforts supporting effective development cooperation; (c) the indicator allows participating countries to choose whether they would like to report as a provider of development co-operation, as a recipient, or both."
Note: For full references to papers quoted in this article see