Main Issue

Land is a complex mixture of soil, water and biodiversity. Working together, these three elements create goods and services that provide a foundation for sustainable livelihoods and peaceful co-existence between peoples. Yet land degradation is putting the health, livelihoods and security of an estimated 1.5 billion people at risk.

Land degradation is any reduction or loss in the biological or economic productive capacity of the land resource base. Natural processes play a part, but humans cause most of the damage. Often, the process of degradation is inextricably linked to loss of biodiversity and the impacts of climate change.

The international community is working to halt and reverse land degradation, restore degraded ecosystems and sustainably manage our resources through a commitment to land degradation neutrality (LDN). Currently, the global cost of land degradation reaches about US$490 billion per year, much higher than the cost of action to prevent it. Read more+

What We Do

Through the Land Degradation focal area, the GEF has concentrated on sustainable land management. Beginning in 2016, we began integrating land degradation neutrality into our programs.

As a financial mechanism for UNCCD, the GEF is extending the Land Degradation Neutrality project. Initially, the project provided technical assistance to a voluntary group of 15 countries with diverse socio-ecological conditions. It helped them mainstream LDN into their National Action Programmes to UNCCD’s Strategic Plan. Through the GEF, the project helps 60 countries in planning how to recover their landscapes.

A restored landscape can accommodate a suite of land uses including protected reserves, ecological corridors, regenerated forests, well-managed plantations, agroforestry systems (or other agricultural systems that make use of on-farm trees) and plantings along waterways. Read more+


GEF financing has supported integrated approaches to combat land degradation on three levels. At the regional level, our support for transboundary collaboration has enabled neighboring countries to address common threats to production systems. At the national level, our funds have helped governments enact legislation and develop policy that support decentralization; these changes, in turn, enable subnational and local governments to make decisions related to natural resource management more easily. Read more+