The price of land on the global market is often far below its real value to society. Thsi means that too much has been and is being extracted from the land, degrading it to a dangerous extent. Worldwide, 52 percent of land used for agriculture is moderately or severely affected by land and soil degradation, a widespread phenomenon occurring globally. Recent estimates show that ecosystem service losses from land degradation cost $6.3 to 10.6 trillion annually. Everyone on earth suffers indirectly, and for the 1.4 billion rural poor land degradation has a direct impact on livelihoods.
Increasing understanding of the total economic value of land to society and aligning policies to that reality will be critical for a sustainable environment and economy. With the population of the world likely to expand to at least 9.7 billion people by 2050, pressures on food, water and energy supplies will increase. Additionally, growing competition over declining resource bases, compounded by the accelerating impacts of a changing climate, instability and even resource-driven conflict will accelerate. Failure to understand what the land actually provides means the price to be paid in terms of future uncertainty and vulnerability will be huge.
This series of plans demonstrates that sustainable land management can be profitable at all scales and within a relatively short time horizon. A concerted effort to increase these practices would help achieve a number of the critical post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set forth by the United Nations as well as supporting other initiatives.