The value of land: Prosperous lands and positive rewards through sustainable land management

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About the ELD Initiative

The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative is an international collaboration that provides a global assessment of the economics of land degradation, and highlights the benefits of sustainable land management. Working with a team of scientists, practitioners, policy-/decisionmakers, and all interested stakeholders, the Initiative endeavours to provide a scientifically robust, politically relevant, and socio-economically considerate approach that is economically viable and rewarding.

Ensuring the implementation of more sustainable land management is of critical importance considering the vast environmental and socio-economic challenges we are collectively facing – from food, water, and energy security and malnutrition, to climate change, a burgeoning global population, and reduction in biodiversity, ecosystems, and ecosystem services.

Understanding the cost of inaction and beneftis of action are important in order for all stakeholders to be able to make sound, informed decisions about the amount and type of investments in land they make. Even though techniques for sustainable land management are known, many barriers remain and the financial and economic aspects are often put forward as primary obstacles. If the full value of land is not understood by all stakeholders, it may not be sustainable managed, leaving future generations with diminished choices and options to secure human and environmental well-being.

A better understanding of the economic value of land will also help correct the imbalance that can occur between the financial value of land and its economic value. For instance, land speculation and land grabbing are often separated from the actual economic value that can be obtained from land and its provisioning services. This divergence is likely to widen as land scarcity increases and land becomes increasingly seen as a ‘commodity’. Economic values can provide a common language to help entities decide between alternative land uses, set up new markets related to environmental quality, and reach the goal of land degradation neutrality.

It should also be noted that the resulting economic incentives must take place within an enabling environment that includes the removal of cultural, environment, legal, social, and technical barriers, and also consider the need for equitable distribution of the benefits of land amongst all stakeholders.

Though there is a wide variety of possible methods, valuations, and approaches that may be available or appropriate, the ELD Initiative promotes the use of the total economic value, achieved through cost-benefit analyses, as this can provide broad and cohesive understanding of the economics of land degradation. It is a method that is generally accepted by governments and others as a decision-making tool, and applying other tools may require a fundamental change existing systems. To this end, the ELD Initiative operates under the following vision and mission statement, with a structure outlined in the organigram:

ELD Initiative: Vision

To transform global understanding of the value of land and to create awareness of the economic case for sustainable land management in preventing loss of natural capital, preserving ecosystem services, combatting climate change, and in addressing food, energy and water security. ELD Initiative: Mission Statement Through an open inter-disciplinary partnership:

❚ We develop a holistic framework for the consideration of the economic values of land in political decision-making processes;

❚ We compile and build a compelling economic case for benefits derived from the sustainable management of land and soil on a global and local scale;

❚ We estimate the economic benefits derived from adopting sustainable land management practices and compare them to the costs of these practices; 2

❚ We sharpen awareness of the value of land and related ecosystem services;

❚ We will propose effective solutions, policies and activities to reduce land degradation, mitigate climate change and deliver food, energy, and water security worldwide.