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    Chad. Andrea Borgarello for TerrAfrica / World Bank

    Environmental degradation exacerbates poverty among the most vulnerable people who often lack access to the most basic resources for their survival. In rural areas, where 78 percent of the world’s poor live, environmental neglect contributes to degraded land, water scarcity, falling crop yields and economic migration. About 42 percent of the world’s poorest live on land that is classified as degraded. Every year, 75 billion tons of fetile soil is lost to land degradation Similarly, 12 million hectares of land are lost every year to desertification and drought alone – compromising efforts to end global hunger. Worsening land degradation impacts 3.2 billion people worldwide.

    In cities and coastal areas as well, a lack of environmental and spatial planning at the landscape level translates into costly and scarce water, food and energy supplies, as well as pollution-related disease, and increased vulnerability to natural disasters such as floods or tsunamis.  Land degradation costs the world an estimated $10.6 trillion each year.

    These challenges are also great opportunities: worldwide, about 2 billion hectares of deforested and degraded land could be restored to functional, productive ecosystems, boosting development prospects and helping both people and the planet in mitigating the impacts of climate change.    

    Landscape restoration techniques that improve crop yields, reduce erosion and enhance the provision of water are within reach. They include a mosaic of interventions and proven methods such as agroforestry and silvopastoralism that integrate trees on farms and ranches; cross slope barriers and farmer-managed natural regeneration to fight soil erosion; conservation area management to protect water sources; and climate smart agriculture that uses less water and builds up soil for more resilient crops. Many of these interventions deliver a “triple win” by increasing livelihoods, enhancing resilience to climate change, and storing carbon to mitigate climate change.

  • The World Bank Group supports an integrated approach for sustainably managing land, water and coastal resources for multiple purposes and functions -- a landscape approach. Managing natural resources in an integrated way across different land uses and connecting them at the landscape level provides the basis for enhancing people’s livelihoods, security, and resilience to climate variability and change.

    The World Bank works with experts across economic sectors to implement effective programs that prioritize sound natural resource management as the basis for inclusive and resilient growth. The Bank uses its convening power and global experience to bring together international, national and local stakeholders in key partnerships around a shared vision for improved natural resource management.

    For example, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and the BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes focus on an incentive mechanism for emission reductions at the landscape level known as results-based finance. Both are funded by multiple donors and managed by the World Bank, and promote reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the land sector, from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+), often along with sustainable agriculture and smarter land-use planning, policies and practices.

    The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative is a pan-African effort to strengthen the resilience of the continent’s people and ecosystems, from Senegal to Ethiopia. The World Bank and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) support this initiative through the Sahel and West Africa Program (SAWAP), a US$1.1 billion investment program in 12 countries using an integrated landscapes approach. As of June 2018, SAWAP reached 22 million direct beneficiaries, brought over 1.5 million hectares of additional land under sustainable land management, and built the adaptive capacity of 6,130 institutions.

    TerrAfrica is a partnership that aims to address land degradation by scaling up knowledge sharing, investments and coalition building. Under TerrAfrica, 26 Sub-Saharan African countries and 20 partners, including the World Bank, have worked to secure $3 billion for investments in resilient landscapes.

    The Amazon Sustainable Landscapes Program, funded by the GEF, aims to protect globally significant biodiversity and to implement policies that foster sustainable land use and restoration of native vegetation cover in the region.

  • In Burkina Faso, the Bank is promoting conservation through a participative approach to the governance of natural resources. Communities work together to map competing land uses, design co-management systems, and decide how to restore the land for increased productivity, income, food and energy security. The World Bank-financed Decentralized Forest and Woodland Management Project, which is part of a $45 million Forest Investment Program, supports the government’s vision based on an integrated landscape management approach. People have switched to improved stoves and biodigesters to reduce wood collection by up to 45% and cut down smoke inhalation and indoor air pollution. They have delineated 77 spaces for conservation and plan to restore 23,000 hectares of land.

    In Colombia, cultivation of the cacay fruit is introducing profitable livelihood opportunities across the Orinoquia region. The potential for more stable and higher income streams from this tree, which grows natively along the base of the Andes mountains, motivates farming communities to further conserve the local environment. The country’s recently launched US$20 million program with the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes, is focused on promoting sustainable agricultural production like this to help reduce emissions from the land use sector.

    In Zambia, where more frequent and intense droughts and floods have led to food, water and energy insecurity, the World Bank is working with the government to implement a US$33 million-dollar integrated landscape program. The program promotes co-management of resources with communities who depend on them and works across sectors to introduce better land-use planning and integrated natural resource management in the country’s Eastern Province. Some five million hectares of tropical miombo forests and grasslands, which are home to globally significant biodiversity, were also put under conservation and will benefit from results-based payments for carbon sequestration. A new $100 million project on Transforming Landscapes for Resilience and Development will build on these results and benefit more than 550,000 people, of whom at least half are women. Farmers will be able to sustainably use their resources, have better yields and not need to clear new forest areas.

    In Mozambique, an Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) Portfolio brings together a series of projects to promote an integrated landscape approach to sustainably manage natural resources and improve livelihoods in the country’s most vulnerable rural communities. In a country where over 70% of households rely on natural resources, the ILM Portfolio promotes a healthy coexistence between humans and nature by tackling deforestation and resource exploitation, together with challenges such as rural poverty, community rights and land management. Combining on-ground investments, technical assistance, analytical work and results-based finance, the over USD $500 million portfolio supports the Government of Mozambique improve rural livelihoods, promote small and medium businesses linked to agriculture and natural resources, with an emphasis on women and youth, and encourage the sustainable management of natural resources, including curbing deforestation, resource degradation, and illegal timber and wildlife trade.

    In Burundi, a country where 90 percent of the population relies on natural resources for food, income, and jobs, efforts to restore degraded landscapes are also rebuilding hope for a better future. The coffee sector accounts for 90 percent of the country’s foreign exchange. Yet, severe land degradation led to a decrease in coffee production from 40,000 tons in the mid-1990s to as low as 5,700 tons in 2003. The $4.2 million Sustainable Coffee Landscapes Project has helped to reverse this decline in productivity by placing over 4,400 hectares under sustainable land management practices. Under IDA18 and GEF7, the $36 million Landscape Restoration and Resilience Project will further scale up restoration of degraded landscapes and increase land productivity by 20 percent.

    In Ethiopia, with support from World Bank-financed projects, communities have successfully transformed their degraded environment into green and productive land. Under the Sustainable Land Management Project, about 406,000 hectares of land have been sustainably managed which will be expanded to 1.4 million hectares under the $100 million Resilient Landscapes and Livelihoods Project. About 3.2 million people will benefit from better water access, greater food security, higher yields, and diversified sources of income – resulting in more resilient livelihoods. Nearly half a million households will also have legal land certificates, including 11,000 landless youth who received land certificates in exchange for restoring degraded communal lands. These results will be significantly scaled-up through the $500 million Climate Action through Landscape Management Program for Results which aims to restore an additional 2.5 million hectares of land and provide 8 million new rural landholding certificates.