Land degradation neutrality: The science-policy interface from the UNCCD to national implementation

Pamela Chasek, Mariam Akhtar-Schuster, Barron Joseph Orr, Anna Luise, Harifidy Rakoto Ratsimba, Uriel Safriel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The recognition of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification's (UNCCD) failure to reduce the rate of desertification and its social and economic repercussions, and the attribution of this failure to lack of strong political will rather than to weak science and malpractice of land users, triggered the emergence of the land degradation neutrality (LDN) paradigm. After agreeing to a formal definition of LDN in 2015, an LDN Scientific Conceptual Framework was developed and endorsed by UNCCD Member States in September 2017. In parallel over 110 UNCCD Member States began implementing LDN, including the preparation for assessment of baseline data, LDN target setting, and monitoring LDN indicators. This paper examines the development of the scientific basis for LDN and how the team of global scientific experts in neutrality approaches worked in parallel with the teams who were conducting training events to launch the LDN target setting programme (TSP). We then move from the scientific conceptual framework to the challenges in the arena of policy making and policy implementation that are becoming visible in ongoing activities related to LDN implementation. We examine these challenges and the opportunities for the development of an enabling policy environment for implementing LDN at country-level, including opportunities for increased financing for achieving LDN. We then present two TSP examples, of Madagascar and Italy, for illustrating early lessons learned on the ground.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-190
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Desertification
  • Land degradation
  • Land degradation neutrality
  • Restoration
  • Sustainable development goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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