Soil Restoration Starts with the People

Contextualising the GFFA expert panel hosted by TMG Research ‘Just Transitions to Land Degradation Neutrality - Tenure Rights for Soil Restoration’ highlights the human rights imperative for achieving large-scale restoration targets.

 

The preliminary analysis of restoration approaches in four African countries reveals intricate linkages between land rights, food security, rural livelihoods, and resilience to climate change. © TMG ThinkTank 2022

Jes Weigelt

Jes Weigelt is Head of Programmes at TMG Research gGmbH, the research wing of TMG. Töpfer, Müller, Gassner. ThinkTank for Sustainability. He tweets at @jes_tmg.

 

Wangu Mwangi

Wangu Mwangi provides editorial and strategic communications support for TMG projects. She has more than 20 years of experience as a journalist and development communications specialist, working at the interface of research, policy, and practice.

TMG – ThinkTankforSustainabilty

GIZ

The climate and biodiversity crises demand fast restoration responses at scale. Yet, large-scale responses carry a risk for smallholder farmers. Often, their land rights are not yet recognized. Earlier experiences show that large-scale restoration involves the risk of alienating people of their lands (for instance land conflicts in the context of programmes working on the reduction of deforestation and forest degradation).

 

Well-intended restoration targets might lead to land conflicts.

 

In view of these experiences, parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) adopted a decision on land tenure that establishes a link between national targets to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN) and the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Land Governance (VGGT).

 

Together with partners from Benin and Kenya, TMG Research mapped legitimate land tenure rights of communities that are living in forest areas which are subject to national LDN plans. The results are clear.

 

As of now, there is insufficient recognition of communities’ land rights.

 

This threatens not only people’s livelihoods but also undermines restoration targets.

 

Die befragten Menschen möchten sich aktiver an Food-Governance-Prozessen beteiligen. (c) SLE
A diverse set of actors must come together to strengthen respective policies and actions for responsible land governance. © TMG ThinkTank 2022

The GFFA expert panel highlighted that there is recognition by governments that restoration and people’s land rights are often addressed in isolation of each other. Further, there is a strong interest by governments in identifying ways to realize synergies between landscape restoration and people’s rights.

 

n view of the current debate on net-zero policies to achieve climate neutrality, this recognition could not be more timely. While there is a fierce debate about the role of net-zero policies in achieving the Paris Climate Agreement, associated investments are already planned. There is no shortcut. Landscape restoration needs to contribute to the progressive realization of people’s rights. Otherwise, it will fail to deliver on biodiversity and climate targets and to protect the livelihoods of those who are already bearing the brunt of these crises.

 

More information on the homepages of GFFA and TMG ThinkTank.

 

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