Up to 40% of the land around the world is now degraded due to damaging human activities, a new report from the United Nations (UN) revealed.
Food production has caused most of the damage to the world’s land, but overconsumption of other goods, such as clothes, also made a large contribution, according to the second edition of the Global Land Outlook report.
The report, which took the UN five years to compile with 21 partner organizations, warned that if current rates of harmful human activities continue, an additional area of land the size of South America will be damaged by 2050.
Representing the most comprehensive database of knowledge of the world’s land yet, the report recommends changing farm methods to terrace and contour farming, practicing rainwater harvesting and storage, and re-growing trees to prevent soil erosion.
UN Convention to Combat Desertification Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw also called for governments and the private sector to invest $1.6 trillion of the annual $700 billion spent on subsidies to agriculture and fossil fuel to restore about one billion degraded hectares — an area the size of the United States or China — by 2030.
“Now is the time to harness political will, innovation, and collective action to restore our land and soil for short-term recovery and long-term regeneration to ensure a more stable and resilient future,” Thiaw said in a statement.
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