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The Book


THE OUTLOOK

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The Book


THE OUTLOOK

The Global Land Outlook 

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FULL REPORT

Land is an essential building block of civilization yet its contribution to our quality of life is perceived and valued in starkly different and often incompatible ways. Conflicts about land use are intensifying in many countries. The world has reached a point where we must reconcile these differences and rethink the way in which we use and manage the land.

The evidence presented in this first edition of the Global Land Outlook demonstrates that informed and responsible decision-making, along with simple changes in our everyday lives, can if widely adopted help to reverse the current worrying trends in the state of our land resources.

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French                 Chinese                                                   French                 Chinese

Spanish               Russian                                                   Spanish               Russian


Key Messages

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Executive Summary

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Introduction

An outlook is a vantage point, a platform, a perspective; it broadens our vistas and allows us to examine our prospects, both present and future. It is within this broader frame of thinking that the Global Land Outlook (GLO) aims to present a unique perspective on one of the Earth’s most precious assets: land.

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Part One: THE BIG PICTURE

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Chapter 1: Meaning of Land

Our perceptions of land are not only a response to the outside world, but also a cause and an effect of cultural filtering, by which certain phenomena feature prominently, while others recede into the background. In other words, the less visible the elements of land are to a particular stakeholder, the less meaning they have for that person and perhaps result in a lack of awareness as to their possible critical functions.

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Chapter 2: Brief History of Land Use

By approximately 6,000 years ago, agricultural expansion had spread across most continents, leading to the clearing of native vegetation and to the culling, or domestication, of herbivores. Native flora and fauna were replaced with intensive crop and livestock management practices as human populations grew and became denser. Starting around 1750, the transformation of land started to accelerate, and rapid land use change continues to be a dominant influence today.

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Chapter 3: Drivers of Change

The growing demand for food, fodder, fuel, and raw materials is increasing pressures on land and the competition for natural resources. At the same time, degradation is reducing the amount of productive land available. The drivers of land degradation are mainly external factors that directly or indirectly impact the health and productivity of land and its associated resources, such as soil, water, and biodiversity.

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Chapter 4: Convergence of Evidence

It is clear that unsustainable human activities put land at risk and at the same time threaten the ecosystem services on which all humanity depends. There is enormous pressure on global land resources due to rising food demand, a global shift in dietary habits, biofuel production, urbanization, and other competing demands. Landfills, mining, and other extraction activities also contribute to the pressure on land resources. Hence, healthy and productive land is becoming scarce.

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Chapter 5: LAND RESOURCES AND Human Security

This chapter looks at some of the wider human security issues related to the condition of land. Many of the underlying pressures on land resources are not immediately obvious. Considerable evidence suggests that people are more likely to use land sustainably if they have secure tenure. Gender inequalities put many women and their families at increasing risk, leaving them amongst the most vulnerable. Conflict over scarce resources can generate additional local and sometimes global pressures.

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Part Two: THE OUTLOOK

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Chapter 6: SCENARIOS OF CHANGE

Given growing demands on land and emerging challenges from land degradation and climate change, policymakers require information on the possible consequences. This chapter explores trends up to 2050, through the Shared Socio-Economic Pathways scenarios. Future changes in the condition of land resources are projected to be extensive as a result of continued land use change and the deterioration of soils and biodiversity.

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Chapter 7: Food Security and AGriculture

Agriculture and livestock cover over one-third of the world’s land surface, dwarfing all other land uses. Intensification, driven by a lucrative but largely inefficient food system, has boosted production. However, it has also disturbed cultural landscapes, sustained over thousands of years, and accelerated land and soil degradation, water shortages, and pollution. In spite of production increases, we are now experiencing widespread food insecurity in what should be a world of plenty.

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Chapter 8: Water Resources

An integrated approach to land and water resource management is essential: this entails reducing demand and increasing use efficiency, protecting and restoring wetlands and watersheds in our working landscapes, providing incentives for sustainable use, and designing more sustainable cities

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Chapter 9: BIODIVERSITY AND Soil

We depend on living soil and the biodiversity that underpins functioning ecosystems and supports productive land-based natural capital. Threats are increasing which require a committed and sustained response. A mixture of protection, sustainable management and, where necessary, restoration is needed at a landscape scale to ensure the future of a diverse, living planet.

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Chapter 10: Energy and Climate

While land is both a source and victim of climate change, it is also a part of the solution. Sustainable land management practices can contribute to climate mitigation strategies by halting and reversing the loss of greenhouse gases from land-based sources and can provide irreplaceable ecosystem services that help society to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

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Chapter 11: Urbanization

The millennia-old relationship between town and country is being transformed. Rapid urbanization is taking place all over the world, driven largely by rural migration, resulting in urban sprawl and slum developments as well as in the development of high quality infrastructure and overall improvement in the standard of living. The footprint of cities extends far beyond their boundaries but cities can offer economies of scale.

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Chapter 12: DRylands

Rural communities in drylands are often poorer than elsewhere and the land is more vulnerable to degradation from climate change and direct human pressures. Poor management can lead to desertification. We know how to manage drylands sustainably, but often do not achieve this in practice; policies and agricultural systems need to be transformed if we are to avoid the continued loss of health and productivity in the drylands.

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Part Three: A MORE SECURE FUTURE

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A More Secure Future

Part Three presents pathways for change, summarizing the critical recommendations from Part Two and outlining strategic priorities for implementation recognizing that decisions and investments made today will influence land use and management tomorrow. We expect that this concluding part of the Outlook will help foster a new vision and agenda for action to ensure a more secure future.

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Annex One

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THE SCIENTIFIC CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK FOR LAND DEGRADATION NEUTRALITY

Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) is the new paradigm for managing land degradation, introduced to halt the ongoing loss of healthy land as a result of unsustainable management and land conversion. The goal of LDN is to maintain the land resource base so that it can continue to supply ecosystem services such as provision of food and regulation of water and climate, while enhancing the resilience of the communities that depend on the land.

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Annex Two 

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MAPPING LAND PRODUCTIVITY DYNAMICS: detecting critical trajectories of global land transformations

Changes in land productivity are the result of environmental conditions and/or land use and management that impacts the quantity and quality of terrestrial ecosystem services. A persistent decline in land productivity points to the long-term alteration in the health and productive capacity of the land, the basis for economic growth and sustainable livelihoods.

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