Harness the opportunities of a future where land is used sustainably and in balance with nature
Land degradation adversely affects the businesses, communities, and species that depend on that land. It also contributes significantly to climate change and reduces land productivity. And it is the communities that are often already exposed to climate-related risks that are made even more vulnerable when the land they depend on is degraded. For instance, competition for scarce land resources is projected to increase social instability like conflict and migration (UNCCD, 2017).
To prevent land degradation and restore land that is already degraded, companies and cities need to take a holistic approach to setting science-based targets for nature. Companies’ and cities’ impacts on land come primarily from land transformation – changing from one land use category to another – and land occupation – the continuous use of an area of land for human-led purposes. We need to find more sustainable ways of using land so we can produce food, fiber, and fuel, transport it to market, and build infrastructure in a way that does not cause degradation.
By setting SBTs for nature, companies and cities can consider their impacts on land in relation to biodiversity, water, ocean, freshwater, and climate. Doing so will increase the return on investments made in the process of setting and taking action to achieve their science-based targets, thus supporting their goals in other areas, as well.
people are affected by land degradation around the world
of annual GDP is lost to the global economy as a result of land degradation
In May 2023, the Science Based Targets Network issued detailed methodologies for companies to assess and prioritize their impacts on nature, and enable them to progress to setting initial target-setting resources on freshwater quality and quantity as well as land to complement those on climate from the Science Based Targets initiative.
Land science-based targets (currently in beta, version 1 available in the first half of 2024) are designed to work together to incentivize the high level corporate actions needed to achieve nature goals in land systems – namely halting conversion of natural ecosystems, freeing up agricultural land for natural ecosystem restoration and improving the ecological integrity of landscapes, including working lands, to enhance ecosystem structure, composition and function.
The first land targets are at a beta stage and have undergone an internal consultation with experts across industry, academia and NGOs, followed by both expert review panel and public consultations for broader representation. They are currently being piloted in 2023 by the initial group of target-setting companies.
The goal is to capture learnings from the corporate pilot, in order to make optimizations ahead of a version 1 roll-out, aiming for the first half of 2024.