Day 2 | Dec 7   14.15 - 15.45

Large-scale land restoration – creating the conditions for success

CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)


Land degradation and the processes that contribute to it are a major global concern and must be halted. Recognition of land degradation as a problem is acknowledged by its place in the emerging Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Even investors are starting to pay to the potential returns available in revitalizing degraded land.

A number of initiatives have been established around the world to improve degraded land such as the “Regreening the Sahel”, the Twenty-by-Twenty Initiative in Latin America and others.

In contrast with the global picture, a large share of greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries (about two-thirds in Latin America, for example) results from land-use change. The restoration of degraded land consists of a variety of measures such as:

  • avoiding deforestation,
  • conservation agriculture,
  • agroforestry,
  • beneficial crop/forage options,
  • agro-ecological intensification to avoid further forest loss, avoid future emissions, and accumulate carbon stocks.

All of these elements represent important least-cost options for developing countries to contribute to global climate stabilization. In order for this contribution to be effective and widely used, however, it is critical that land restoration be taken fully into account in the climate negotiations. Avoiding further degradation, and putting degraded agricultural land back into production is also essential for strengthening food security and raising rural incomes. This is strongly tied to several of the Sustainable Development Goals now under negotiation.

The purpose of this session is to demonstrate how we can ensure the success of efforts to restore degraded land and to highlight collective lessons to inspire new ways of thinking with regards to land degradation.

 The thematic session will be identifying the technical, social and institutional conditions for developing successful long-term initiatives and how they can be sustained at regional and national levels. The findings and discussion will be used to further develop an emerging focus on land degradation of WLE and CIAT – and others that join. They will also feed into a high-level dialogue of African leaders attending the COP.

Key questions addressed:

  1. What conditions are needed for building durable political and financial commitments to land restoration?
  2. What are the perceptions of key decision-makers such as policymakers and investors in regards to land restoration?
  3. What is being done to document the societal returns to land restoration?
  4. How can other major land restoration efforts underway around the world benefit from experience with the 20-by-20 Initiative?
  5. What opportunities does the FAO International Year of Soils offer for heightening the institutional and public profile of major land restoration efforts?


Background reading:

Restoring value to the world’s degraded lands

Separated at birth, reunited in Rio? A roadmap to bring environment and development back together

Design challenges for achieving reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation through conservation: leveraging multiple paradigms at the tropical forest margins

SOILS AND LAND IN THE SDGS AND THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA. A proposal for a goal to achieve a Land Degradation Neutral World in the context of sustainable development.