News

Study on Economics of Desertification Presented during UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference

9 April 2013: A paper, titled 'The Economics of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought: Methodologies and Analysis for Decision-Making,' which was prepared by the Global Risk Forum (GRF) Davos on behalf of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), was presented during the first day of the UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference.

The document presents estimates from around the world on costs incurred through desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD), which conversely sheds light on the benefits of sustainable land management (SLM). It outlines a resilience framework, and argues that SLM is an important resilience-building activity.

It also considers how economic instruments can induce greater adoption of SLM practices and ecosystem restoration, and explores possibilities for joint efforts among the Rio Conventions to mainstream the use of economic instruments to alleviate poverty and address biodiversity loss, land degradation, and climate change mitigation and adaption. The document concludes that the monitoring of and baseline-setting for biophysical and socioeconomic indicators are necessary to mainstream cost-benefit analysis and national green accounting.

Among other findings, the study indicates that the global community is losing up to 5% of global agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) due to land degradation. It suggests that the direct costs of land degradation within a country vary widely, with Paraguay's costs estimated to be as high as 6.6% of agricultural GDP, Burkina Faso's to be 9% and Guatemala's to be 24%. Social costs of desertification, land degradation and drought are also estimated to be high, with chronic hunger estimated to affect nearly 870 million people.

The last economic valuation of desertification, prepared by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1992, estimated the direct cost to be US$ 42 billion annually. [Publication: The Economics of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought: Methodologies and Analysis for Decision-Making] [IISD RS Coverage of the UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference] [UN Press Release]