Published: Fri, Oct 30, 2015
Type: Publication

Addressing a policy-maker audience, the publication presents some of the policy options available for governments to encourage business contribution to land degradation neutrality and focuses on a number of incentive mechanisms that are of particular relevance. In collaboration with its member companies, the WBCSD has developed 10 messages for policy-makers about the measures and principles instrumental to the development of strategies and action plans that support business engagement in the rehabilitation of land and sustainable land management.

Healthy and sustainably managed land is a prerequisite for economic growth and prosperity. Today, 25% of usable global land is degraded and an additional 12 million hectares – the equivalent of South Africa’s arable land surface – are subject to further degradation every year. Unless concrete action is taken to reverse this trend, there will not be enough land in the future to meet the demands of the world’s growing population.

Land degradation is often the result of land mismanagement, including: deforestation, overgrazing, monoculture, salinization, pollution of land and water sources by agriculture or industries, misuse of fertilizers and/or chemicals, poor farming practices, or soil erosion. It leads to increased pests, reduced availability of clean water and biodiversity loss. These consequences increase food insecurity and make the affected areas, their populations and business operations more vulnerable to climate change.

Peter Bakker, President and CEO, WBCSD, said: “For business, land degradation neutrality means higher productivity and sustained profits going forward, secure access to critical markets, reduced exposure to conflict and a higher brand value. Despite these opportunities, the costs of land degradation and the benefits of sustainable land management are not fully accounted for among public and private decision-makers. We believe that our work will help reach a better understanding of the stakes as well as the positive outcomes of going land degradation neutral.”

The urgency of addressing the land degradation challenge requires unprecedented collaboration between governments, business and society. Business has the technological know-how and resources to assist governments in building a land degradation neutral world. It is time for a clear framework to be put in place to help business engage and contribute to land degradation neutrality.

Bey Soo Khiang, Chairman, APRIL Group, said “Beyond averting significant supply and value chain risks, sustainable land management practices and land restoration generate multiple benefits for business, ecosystems and local communities. Public-private partnership, alongside the collaboration with local communities, is key to sustainable land use while enabling poverty alleviation and the overall achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals."

Neil McArthur, CEO of Arcadis, said “‘Land degradation is one of our biggest societal challenges. We are aware that many of our business clients are increasingly facing the risks of degraded ecosystems which influences their business continuity. That’s why Arcadis invests huge efforts in developing innovative and pragmatic business solutions in the field of green infrastructure, land restoration and climate change adaptation. The Sustainable Land Management Business Forum in Ankara, as well as the WBCSD guidance for ambitious collaborative action on land degradation neutrality, are major steps forward.”

Walter Dissinger, CEO of Votorantim Cimentos, said: “Sustainability is one of the main drivers of Votorantim Cimentos' business in 83 years of existence. We have just defined our global sustainability targets for 2020, valid for the 14 countries in which we are present, and they are in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including Land Degradation Neutrality. In order to perpetuate Votorantim Cimentos' legacy, we strive to ensure a close relationship with our stakeholders. As an example, we have established clear targets regarding rehabilitation plans for the closure of our units, biodiversity management plans and a roadmap for water management, with significant results already achieved.”