Thomas, Richard J. and Akhtar Schuster, Mariam and Stringer, Lindsay C. and Marqués Pérez, María José and Escadafal, Richard and Abraham, Elena María and Enne, Giuseppe (2012) Fertile ground? Options for a science–policy platform for land. Environmental Science & Policy, Vol. 16 , p. 122-135. ISSN 1462-9011. eISSN 1873-6416. Article.
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The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) remains the only ‘Rio Convention’ that is not well served by the scientific community and lacks the equivalent of an IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) or the proposed IPBES (Intergovernmental Science–Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services). The mounting pressures on land (and water) that can drive its degradation include population growth and associated food security concerns, over use, creeping degradation, competition between agriculture and renewable energy production, carbon sequestration and land acquisition by foreign entities. These environmental and human pressures clearly require urgent policy attention. We report the results of a survey of the scientific community on the need and possible options for a science–policy platform that focuses on land. The paper then describes the remit and role of an independent platform, the benefits and possible modalities that are inclusive and build on existing institutional structures. Both short-term and longer term options are presented that can respond to immediate needs while establishing a mechanism that can handle the interacting and sometimes overlapping aspects of land covered by other Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs). Short-term options include establishing a platform via an ad hoc working group within the proposed IPBES that would feed its outputs into the UNCCD and other relevant MEAs. Long-term options include a more polycentric approach, establishing a network of networks that could evolve into a fully-fledged Independent Platform on Land Degradation given sufficient support, interest and leadership from the international and donor communities.
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