Rio+20 Business Focus: Business integral to combating desertification (17 June)

Politicians make the policy. But it’s often left to business to implement it. For this reason RioPlus Business is featuring submissions from business across the globe in the lead up to Rio+20.

The aim is to demonstrate how Sustainable Development is becoming a reality on every continent, country and city.

Here, Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UNConvention to Combat Desertification explains why business is one of the most important stakeholders in the efforts to combat desertification.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development also known as Rio +20 is a unique opportunity for all stakeholders to come together to address the long term sustainability of our planet and to set us on the path towards truly green and inclusive growth.

At UNCCD, we are committed to working with business to bring this about.

girl sat on degraded land

Businesses will have an important role to play in combating desertification (© Kusal Gangopadhyay/UNCCD Photo Contest)

Business is one of the most important stakeholders in efforts to combat desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD).

Each minute, 23 hectares of productive land and soil is lost to DLDD. Global trends such as population dynamic, increasing demands for energy, food and water are expected to dramatically increase pressure on the land.

Pressure on land based resources could result in shortages, which hamper business and economic development, lead to social and geopolitical tensions and cause devastating environmental damage.

Land and water are the most valuable finite resources that we have. They are inextricably intertwined and increasingly scarce and unless addressed holistically, the effects of DLDD will be felt by global companies looking for resources, supply networks and markets.

I believe no solution to the global crisis of DLDD will be found without pro-active business engagement.

Business imagination, invention, skills and talent are urgently needed and also very welcome.

Forward looking companies recognize that productive lands and fertile soils are the cornerstone of a green economy (for sustainable development) and that Sustainable Land Management (SLM) is one of the most cost-effective and efficient business practices you can adopt.

Sustainable Land Management should form an integral part of strategies tackling climate change and biodiversity loss. It is also fully in business’ interests to take SLM on board as part of your core business strategy.

Where there are risks there are also opportunities. Business can move towards zero net land degradation by preventing degradation and restoring degraded land.

Sustainable land management will be integral to tackling climate change and biodiversity loss (© LU Tongjing/UNCCD Photo Contest)

Compared to present levels, the demand for food is forecast to grow by 50% and that of energy and water by 40%, by 2030.

Those demands will not be met unless sustainable land management is combined with business acumen.

The 2 billion hectares of degraded land, with potential for restoration and regeneration worldwide, represent opportunities for investment with untapped potential for high and long lasting return, especially in the drylands.

Along their value chains, business can halt or reverse desertification, engage with suppliers to reduce degradation, and create products that improve sustainability and enable restoration of damaged land.

We look forward to hearing your ideas and working with you.

This article is part of a series commissioned by the Rio Conventions for their RioPlus Business project.


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