Special Report: Special Report on Climate Change and Land
Ch 01

Framing and Context

Coordinating Lead Authors

  • Almut Arneth (Germany)
  • Fatima Denton (The Gambia)

Lead Authors

  • Fahmuddin AGUS (Indonesia)
  • Aziz Elbehri (Morocco)
  • Karlheinz ERB (Italy)
  • Balgis OSMAN-ELASHA (Sudan)
  • Mohammad RAHIMI (Iran)
  • Mark Rounsevell (United Kingdom, Germany)
  • Adrian SPENCE (Jamaica)
  • Riccardo VALENTINI (Italy)

Contributing Authors

  • Peter Alexander (United Kingdom)
  • Yuping Bai (China)
  • Ana Bastos (Germany, Portugal)
  • Niels Debonne (Netherlands)
  • Jan Fuglestvedt (Norway)
  • Rafaela Hillerbrand (Germany)
  • Baldur Janz (Germany)
  • Thomas Kastner (Austria)
  • Ylva Longva (United Kingdom)
  • Patrick Meyfroidt (Belgium)
  • Michael O’Sullivan (United Kingdom)

Review Editors

  • Edvin ALDRIAN (Indonesia)
  • Bruce MCCARL (United States)
  • María José SÁNZ SÁNCHEZ (Spain)

Chapter Scientists

  • Yuping Bai (China)
  • Baldur Janz (Germany)

FAQ 1.1 | What are the approaches to study the interactions between land and climate?

Climate change shapes the way land is able to support supply of food and water for humans. At the same time the land surface interacts with the overlying atmosphere, thus human modifications of land use, land cover and urbanisation affect global, regional and local climate. The complexity of the land–climate interactions requires multiple study approaches embracing different spatial and temporal scales. Observations of land atmospheric exchanges, such as of carbon, water, nutrients and energy can be carried out at leaf level and soil with gas exchange systems, or at canopy scale by means of micrometeorological techniques (i.e. eddy covariance). At regional scale, atmospheric measurements by tall towers, aircraft and satellites can be combined with atmospheric transport models to obtain spatial explicit maps of relevant greenhouse gases fluxes. At longer temporal scale (>10 years) other approaches are more effective, such as tree-ring chronologies, satellite records, population and vegetation dynamics and isotopic studies. Models are important to bring information from measurement together and to extend the knowledge in space and time, including the exploration of scenarios of future climate–land interactions.

FAQ 1.2 | How region-specific are the impacts of different land-based adaptation and mitigation options?

Land-based adaptation and mitigation options are closely related to region-specific features for several reasons. Climate change has a definite regional pattern with some regions already suffering from enhanced climate extremes and others being impacted little, or even benefiting. From this point of view increasing confidence in regional climate change scenarios is becoming a critical step forward towards the implementation of adaptation and mitigation options. Biophysical and socio-economic impacts of climate change depend on the exposures of natural ecosystems and economic sectors, which are again specific to a region, reflecting regional sensitivities due to governance. The overall responses in terms of adaptation or mitigation capacities to avoid and reduce vulnerabilities and enhance adaptive capacity, depend on institutional arrangements, socio-economic conditions, and implementation of policies, many of them having definite regional features. However global drivers, such as agricultural demand, food prices, changing dietary habits associated with rapid social transformations (i.e. urban vs rural, meat-eating vs vegetarian) may interfere with region-specific policies for mitigation and adaptation options and need to be addressed at the global level.

FAQ 1.3 | What is the difference between desertification and land degradation? And where are they happening?

The difference between land degradation and desertification is geographic. Land degradation is a general term used to describe a negative trend in land condition caused by direct or indirect human-induced processes (including anthropogenic climate change). Degradation can be identified by the long-term reduction or loss in biological productivity, ecological integrity or value to humans. Desertification is land degradation when it occurs in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas, which are also called drylands. Contrary to some perceptions, desertification is not the same as the expansion of deserts. Desertification is also not limited to irreversible forms of land degradation.

Figure 1.1
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Figure 1.2
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Figure 1.3
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Figure 1.4
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Figure 1.5
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Cross-Chapter-Box-Figure-1
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ES

Executive Summary

Land, including its water bodies, provides the basis for human livelihoods and well-being through primary productivity, the supply of food, freshwater, and multiple other ecosystem services (high confidence). Neither our individual or societal identities, nor the world’s economy would exist without the multiple resources, services and livelihood systems provided by land ecosystems and biodiversity. The annual value of the world’s total terrestrial ecosystem services has been estimated at 75 trillion USD in 2011, approximately equivalent to the annual global Gross Domestic Product (based on USD2007 values) (medium confidence). Land and its biodiversity also represent essential, intangible benefits to humans, such as cognitive and spiritual enrichment, sense of belonging and aesthetic and recreational values. Valuing ecosystem services with monetary methods often overlooks these intangible services that shape societies, cultures and quality of life and the intrinsic value of biodiversity. The Earth’s land area is finite. Using land resources sustainably is fundamental for human well-being (high confidence). {1.1.1}

The current geographic spread of the use of land, the large appropriation of multiple ecosystem services and the loss of biodiversity are unprecedented in human history (high confidence). By 2015, about three-quarters of the global ice-free land surface was affected by human use. Humans appropriate one-quarter to one-third of global terrestrial potential net primary production (high confidence). Croplands cover 12–14% of the global ice-free surface. Since 1961, the supply of global per capita food calories increased by about one-third, with the consumption of vegetable oils and meat more than doubling. At the same time, the use of inorganic nitrogen fertiliser increased by nearly ninefold, and the use of irrigation water roughly doubled (high confidence). Human use, at varying intensities, affects about 60–85% of forests and 70–90% of other natural ecosystems (e.g., savannahs, natural grasslands) (high confidence). Land use caused global biodiversity to decrease by around 11–14% (medium confidence). {1.1.2}

Warming over land has occurred at a faster rate than the global mean and this has had observable impacts on the land system (high confidence). The average temperature over land for the period 2006–2015 was 1.53°C higher than for the period 1850–1900, and 0.66°C larger than the equivalent global mean temperature change. These warmer temperatures (with changing precipitation patterns) have altered the start and end of growing seasons, contributed to regional crop yield reductions, reduced freshwater availability, and put biodiversity under further stress and increased tree mortality (high confidence). Increasing levels of atmospheric CO2, have contributed to observed increases in plant growth as well as to increases in woody plant cover in grasslands and savannahs (medium confidence). {1.1.2}

Urgent action to stop and reverse the over-exploitation of land resources would buffer the negative impacts of multiple pressures, including climate change, on ecosystems and society (high confidence). Socio-economic drivers of land-use change such as technological development, population growth and increasing per capita demand for multiple ecosystem services are projected to continue into the future (high confidence). These and other drivers can amplify existing environmental and societal challenges, such as the conversion of natural ecosystems into managed land, rapid urbanisation, pollution from the intensification of land management and equitable access to land resources (high confidence). Climate change will add to these challenges through direct, negative impacts on ecosystems and the services they provide (high confidence). Acting immediately and simultaneously on these multiple drivers would enhance food, fibre and water security, alleviate desertification, and reverse land degradation, without compromising the non-material or regulating benefits from land (high confidence). {1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.2–1.3.6, Cross-Chapter Box 1 in Chapter 1}

Rapid reductions in anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that restrict warming to “well-below” 2°C would greatly reduce the negative impacts of climate change on land ecosystems (high confidence). In the absence of rapid emissions reductions, reliance on large-scale, land-based, climate change mitigation is projected to increase, which would aggravate existing pressures on land (high confidence). Climate change mitigation efforts that require large land areas (e.g., bioenergy and afforestation/reforestation) are projected to compete with existing uses of land (high confidence). The competition for land could increase food prices and lead to further intensification (e.g., fertiliser and water use) with implications for water and air pollution, and the further loss of biodiversity (medium confidence). Such consequences would jeopardise societies’ capacity to achieve many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that depend on land (high confidence). {1.3.1, Cross-Chapter Box 2 in Chapter 1}

Nonetheless, there are many land-related climate change mitigation options that do not increase the competition for land (high confidence). Many of these options have co-benefits for climate change adaptation (medium confidence). Land use contributes about one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, notably CO2 emissions from deforestation, CH4 emissions from rice and ruminant livestock and N2O emissions from fertiliser use (high confidence). Land ecosystems also take up large amounts of carbon (high confidence). Many land management options exist to both reduce the magnitude of emissions and enhance carbon uptake. These options enhance crop productivity, soil nutrient status, microclimate or biodiversity, and thus, support adaptation to climate change (high confidence). In addition, changes in consumer behaviour, such as reducing the over-consumption of food and energy would benefit the reduction of GHG emissions from land (high confidence). The barriers to the implementation of mitigation and adaptation options include skills deficit, financial and institutional barriers, absence of incentives, access to relevant technologies, consumer awareness and the limited spatial scale at which the success of these practices and methods have been demonstrated. {1.2.1, 1.3.2, 1.3.3, 1.3.4, 1.3.5, 1.3.6}

Sustainable food supply and food consumption, based on nutritionally balanced and diverse diets, would enhance food security under climate and socio-economic changes (high confidence). Improving food access, utilisation, quality and safety to enhance nutrition, and promoting globally equitable diets compatible with lower emissions have demonstrable positive impacts on land use and food security (high confidence). Food security is also negatively affected by food loss and waste (estimated as 25–30% of total food produced) (medium confidence). Barriers to improved food security include economic drivers (prices, availability and stability of supply) and traditional, social and cultural norms around food eating practices. Climate change is expected to increase variability in food production and prices globally (high confidence), but the trade in food commodities can buffer these effects. Trade can provide embodied flows of water, land and nutrients (medium confidence). Food trade can also have negative environmental impacts by displacing the effects of overconsumption (medium confidence). Future food systems and trade patterns will be shaped as much by policies as by economics (medium confidence). {1.2.1, 1.3.3}

A gender-inclusive approach offers opportunities to enhance the sustainable management of land (medium confidence). Women play a significant role in agriculture and rural economies globally. In many world regions, laws, cultural restrictions, patriarchy and social structures such as discriminatory customary laws and norms reduce women’s capacity in supporting the sustainable use of land resources (medium confidence). Therefore, acknowledging women’s land rights and bringing women’s land management knowledge into land-related decision-making would support the alleviation of land degradation, and facilitate the take-up of integrated adaptation and mitigation measures (medium confidence). {1.4.1, 1.4.2}

Regional and country specific contexts affect the capacity to respond to climate change and its impacts, through adaptation and mitigation (high confidence). There is large variability in the availability and use of land resources between regions, countries and land management systems. In addition, differences in socio-economic conditions, such as wealth, degree of industrialisation, institutions and governance, affect the capacity to respond to climate change, food insecurity, land degradation and desertification. The capacity to respond is also strongly affected by local land ownership. Hence, climate change will affect regions and communities differently (high confidence). {1.3, 1.4}

Cross-scale, cross-sectoral and inclusive governance can enable coordinated policy that supports effective adaptation and mitigation (high confidence). There is a lack of coordination across governance levels, for example, local, national, transboundary and international, in addressing climate change and sustainable land management challenges. Policy design and formulation is often strongly sectoral, which poses further barriers when integrating international decisions into relevant (sub)national policies. A portfolio of policy instruments that are inclusive of the diversity of governance actors would enable responses to complex land and climate challenges (high confidence). Inclusive governance that considers women’s and indigenous people’s rights to access and use land enhances the equitable sharing of land resources, fosters food security and increases the existing knowledge about land use, which can increase opportunities for adaptation and mitigation (medium confidence). {1.3.5, 1.4.1, 1.4.2, 1.4.3}

Scenarios and models are important tools to explore the trade-offs and co-benefits of land management decisions under uncertain futures (high confidence). Participatory, co-creation processes with stakeholders can facilitate the use of scenarios in designing future sustainable development strategies (medium confidence). In addition to qualitative approaches, models are critical in quantifying scenarios, but uncertainties in models arise from, for example, differences in baseline datasets, land cover classes and modelling paradigms (medium confidence). Current scenario approaches are limited in quantifying time-dependent policy and management decisions that can lead from today to desirable futures or visions. Advances in scenario analysis and modelling are needed to better account for full environmental costs and non-monetary values as part of human decision-making processes. {1.2.2, Cross-Chapter Box 1 in Chapter 1}

1.1

Introduction and scope of the report

1.1.1

Objectives and scope of the assessment

Land, including its water bodies, provides the basis for our livelihoods through basic processes such as net primary production that fundamentally sustain the supply of food, bioenergy and freshwater, and the delivery of multiple other ecosystem services and biodiversity (Hoekstra and Wiedmann 20141; Mace et al. 20122; Newbold et al. 20153; Runting et al. 20174; Isbell et al. 20175) (Cross-Chapter Box 8 in Chapter 6). The annual value of the world’s total terrestrial ecosystem services has been estimated to be about 75 trillion USD in 2011, approximately equivalent to the annual global Gross Domestic Product (based on USD2007 values) (Costanza et al. 20146; IMF 20187). Land also supports non-material ecosystem services such as cognitive and spiritual enrichment and aesthetic values (Hernández-Morcillo et al. 20138; Fish et al. 20169), intangible services that shape societies, cultures and human well-being. Exposure of people living in cities to (semi-)natural environments has been found to decrease mortality, cardiovascular disease and depression (Rook 201310; Terraube et al. 201711). Non-material and regulating ecosystem services have been found to decline globally and rapidly, often at the expense of increasing material services (Fischer et al. 201812; IPBES 2018a13). Climate change will exacerbate diminishing land and freshwater resources, increase biodiversity loss, and will intensify societal vulnerabilities, especially in regions where economies are highly dependent on natural resources. Enhancing food security and reducing malnutrition, whilst also halting and reversing desertification and land degradation, are fundamental societal challenges that are increasingly aggravated by the need to both adapt to and mitigate climate change impacts without compromising the non-material benefits of land (Kongsager et al. 201614; FAO et al. 201815).

Annual emissions of GHGs and other climate forcers continue to increase unabatedly. Confidence is very high that the window of opportunity, the period when significant change can be made, for limiting climate change within tolerable boundaries is rapidly narrowing (Schaeffer et al. 201516; Bertram et al. 201517; Riahi et al. 201518; Millar et al. 201719; Rogelj et al. 2018a20). The Paris Agreement formulates the goal of limiting global warming this century to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, for which rapid actions are required across the energy, transport, infrastructure and agricultural sectors, while factoring in the need for these sectors to accommodate a growing human population (Wynes and Nicholas 201721; Le Quere et al. 201822). Conversion of natural land, and land management, are significant net contributors to GHG emissions and climate change, but land ecosystems are also a GHG sink (Smith et al. 201423; Tubiello et al. 201524; Le Quere et al. 201825; Ciais et al. 2013a26). It is not surprising, therefore, that land plays a prominent role in many of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of the parties to the Paris Agreement (Rogelj et al. 2018a27,b28; Grassi et al. 201729; Forsell et al. 201630), and land-measures will be part of the NDC review by 2023.

A range of different climate change mitigation and adaptation options on land exist, which differ in terms of their environmental and societal implications (Meyfroidt 201831; Bonsch et al. 201632; Crist et al. 201733; Humpenoder et al. 201434; Harvey and Pilgrim 201135; Mouratiadou et al. 201636; Zhang et al. 201537; Sanz-Sanchez et al. 201738; Pereira et al. 201039; Griscom et al. 201740; Rogelj et al. 2018a41) (Chapters 4–6). The Special Report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and GHG fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems (SRCCL) synthesises the current state of scientific knowledge on the issues specified in the report’s title (Figure 1.1 and Figure 1.2). This knowledge is assessed in the context of the Paris Agreement, but many of the SRCCL issues concern other international conventions such as the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity (UNCBD), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the UN Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SRCCL is the first report in which land is the central focus since the IPCC Special Report on land use, land-use change and forestry (Watson et al. 200042) (Box 1.1). The main objectives of the SRCCL are to:

  1. Assess the current state of the scientific knowledge on the impacts of socio-economic drivers and their interactions with climate change on land, including degradation, desertification and food security;
  2. Evaluate the feasibility of different land-based response options to GHG mitigation, and assess the potential synergies and trade-offs with ecosystem services and sustainable development;
  3. Examine adaptation options under a changing climate to tackle land degradation and desertification and to build resilient food systems, as well as evaluating the synergies and trade-offs between mitigation and adaptation;
  4. Delineate the policy, governance and other enabling conditions to support climate mitigation, land ecosystem resilience and food security in the context of risks, uncertainties and remaining knowledge gaps.
Figure 1.1

A representation of the principal land challenges and land-climate system processes covered in this assessment report. A. The warming curves are averages of four datasets (Section 2.1, Figure 2.2 and Table 2.1). B. N2O and CH4 from agriculture are from FAOSTAT; Net land-use change emissions of CO2 from forestry and other land use (including emissions […]

A representation of the principal land challenges and land-climate system processes covered in this assessment report.
A. The warming curves are averages of four datasets (Section 2.1, Figure 2.2 and Table 2.1). B. N2O and CH4 from agriculture are from FAOSTAT; Net land-use change emissions of CO2 from forestry and other land use (including emissions from peatland fires since 1997) are from the annual Global Carbon Budget, using the mean of two bookkeeping models. All values expressed in units of CO2-eq are based on AR5 100-year Global Warming Potential values without climate-carbon feedbacks (N2O = 265; CH4 = 28) (Table SPM.1 and Section 2.3). C. Depicts shares of different uses of the global, ice-free land area for approximately the year 2015, ordered along a gradient of decreasing land-use intensity from left to right. Each bar represents a broad land cover category; the numbers on top are the total percentage of the ice-free area covered, with uncertainty ranges in brackets. Intensive pasture is defined as having a livestock density greater than 100 animals/km². The area of ‘forest managed for timber and other uses’ was calculated as total forest area minus ‘primary/intact’ forest area. (Section 1.2, Table 1.1, Figure 1.3). D. Note that fertiliser use is shown on a split axis (source: International Fertiliser Industry Association, www.ifastat.org/databases). The large percentage change in fertiliser use reflects the low level of use in 1961 and relates to both increasing fertiliser input per area as well as the expansion of fertilised cropland and grassland to increase food production (1.1, Figure 1.3). E. Overweight population is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) >25 kg m–2 (source: Abarca-Gómez et al. 201743); underweight is defined as BMI <18.5 kg m–2. (Population density, source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs 201744) (Sections 5.1 and 5.2). F. Dryland areas were estimated using TerraClimate precipitation and potential evapotranspiration (1980–2015) (Abatzoglou et al. 201845) to identify areas where the Aridity Index is below 0.65. Areas experiencing human caused desertification, after accounting for precipitation variability and CO2 fertilisation, are identified in Le et al. 2016. Population data for these areas were extracted from the gridded historical population database HYDE3.2 (Goldewijk et al. 201746). Areas in drought are based on the 12-month accumulation Global Precipitation Climatology Centre Drought Index (Ziese et al. 201447). The area in drought was calculated for each month (Drought Index below –1), and the mean over the year was used to calculate the percentage of drylands in drought that year. The inland wetland extent (including peatlands) is based on aggregated data from more than 2000 time series that report changes in local wetland area over time (Dixon et al. 201648; Darrah et al. 201949) (Sections 3.1, 4.2 and 4.6).

The SRCCL identifies and assesses land-related challenges and response options in an integrative way, aiming to be policy relevant across sectors. Chapter 1 provides a synopsis of the main issues addressed in this report, which are explored in more detail in Chapters 2–7. Chapter 1 also introduces important concepts and definitions and highlights discrepancies with previous reports that arise from different objectives (a full set of definitions is provided in the Glossary). Chapter 2 focuses on the natural system dynamics, assessing recent progress towards understanding the impacts of climate change on land, and the feedbacks arising from altered biogeochemical and biophysical exchange fluxes (Figure 1.2).

Figure 1.2

Overview over the SRCCL.

Overview over the SRCCL.

1.1.2

Status and dynamics of the (global) land system

1.1.2.1

1.1.2.1 Land ecosystems and climate change

Land ecosystems play a key role in the climate system, due to their large carbon pools and carbon exchange fluxes with the atmosphere (Ciais et al. 2013b60). Land use, the total of arrangements, activities and inputs applied to a parcel of land (such as agriculture, grazing, timber extraction, conservation or city dwelling; see Glossary), and land management (sum of land-use practices that take place within broader land-use categories; see Glossary) considerably alter terrestrial ecosystems and play a key role in the global climate system. An estimated one-quarter of total anthropogenic GHG emissions arise mainly from deforestation, ruminant livestock and fertiliser application (Smith et al. 201461; Tubiello et al. 201562; Le Quere et al. 201863; Ciais et al. 2013a64), and especially methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from agriculture have been rapidly increasing over the last decades (Hoesly et al. 201865; Tian et al. 201966) (Figure 1.1 and Sections 2.3.2–2.3.3).

Globally, land also serves as a large CO2 sink, which was estimated for the period 2008–2017 to be nearly 30% of total anthropogenic emissions (Le Quere et al. 201567; Canadell and Schulze 201468; Ciais et al. 2013a69; Zhu et al. 201670) (Section 2.3.1). This sink has been attributed to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration, a prolonged growing season in cool environments, or forest regrowth (Le Quéré et al. 201371; Pugh et al. 201972; Le Quéré et al. 201873; Ciais et al. 2013a74; Zhu et al. 201675). Whether or not this sink will persist into the future is one of the largest uncertainties in carbon cycle and climate modelling (Ciais et al. 2013a76; Bloom et al. 201677; Friend et al. 201478; Le Quere et al. 201879). In addition, changes in vegetation cover caused by land use (such as conversion of forest to cropland or grassland, and vice versa) can result in regional cooling or warming through altered energy and momentum transfer between ecosystems and the atmosphere. Regional impacts can be substantial, but whether the effect leads to warming or cooling depends on the local context (Lee et al. 201180; Zhang et al. 201481; Alkama and Cescatti 201682) (Section 2.6). Due to the current magnitude of GHG emissions and CO2 carbon dioxide removal in land ecosystems, there is high confidence that GHG reduction measures in agriculture, livestock management and forestry would have substantial climate change mitigation potential, with co-benefits for biodiversity and ecosystem services (Smith and Gregory 201384; Smith et al. 201485; Griscom et al. 201786) (Sections 2.6 and 6.3).

The mean temperature over land for the period 2006–2015 was 1.53°C higher than for the period 1850–1900, and 0.66°C larger than the equivalent global mean temperature change (Section 2.2). Climate change affects land ecosystems in various ways (Section 7.2). Growing seasons and natural biome boundaries shift in response to warming or changes in precipitation (Gonzalez et al. 201087; Wärlind et al. 201488; Davies-Barnard et al. 201589; Nakamura et al. 201790). Atmospheric CO2 increases have been attributed to underlie, at least partially, observed woody plant cover increase in grasslands and savannahs (Donohue et al. 201391). Climate change-induced shifts in habitats, together with warmer temperatures, cause pressure on plants and animals (Pimm et al. 201492; Urban et al. 201693). National cereal crop losses of nearly 10% have been estimated for the period 1964–2007 as a consequence of heat and drought weather extremes (Deryng et al. 201494; Lesk et al. 201695). Climate change is expected to reduce yields in areas that are already under heat and water stress (Schlenker and Lobell 201096; Lobell et al. 201197, 201298; Challinor et al. 201499) (Section 5.2.2). At the same time, warmer temperatures can increase productivity in cooler regions (Moore and Lobell 2015100) and might open opportunities for crop area expansion, but any overall benefits might be counterbalanced by reduced suitability in warmer regions (Pugh et al. 2016101; Di Paola et al. 2018102). Increasing atmospheric CO2 is expected to increase productivity and water use efficiency in crops and in forests (Muller et al. 2015103; Nakamura et al. 2017104; Kimball 2016105). The increasing number of extreme weather events linked to climate change is also expected to result in forest losses; heat waves and droughts foster wildfires (Seidl et al. 2017106; Fasullo et al. 2018107) (Cross-Chapter Box 3 in Chapter 2). Episodes of observed enhanced tree mortality across many world regions have been attributed to heat and drought stress (Allen et al. 2010108; Anderegg et al. 2012109), whilst weather extremes also impact local infrastructure and hence transportation and trade in land-related goods (Schweikert et al. 2014110; Chappin and van der Lei 2014111). Thus, adaptation is a key challenge to reduce adverse impacts on land systems (Section 1.3.6).

1.1.2.2

Current patterns of land use and land cover

Around three-quarters of the global ice-free land, and most of the highly productive land area, are by now under some form of land use (Erb et al. 2016a112; Luyssaert et al. 2014113; Venter et al. 2016114) (Table 1.1). One-third of used land is associated with changed land cover. Grazing land is the single largest land-use category, followed by used forestland and cropland. The total land area used to raise livestock is notable: it includes all grazing land and an estimated additional one-fifth of cropland for feed production (Foley et al. 2011115). Globally, 60–85% of the total forested area is used, at different levels of intensity, but information on management practices globally is scarce (Erb et al. 2016a). Large areas of unused (primary) forests remain only in the tropics and northern boreal zones (Luyssaert et al. 2014116; Birdsey and Pan 2015117; Morales-Hidalgo et al. 2015118; Potapov et al. 2017119; Erb et al. 2017120), while 73–89% of other, non-forested natural ecosystems (natural grasslands, savannahs, etc.) are used. Large uncertainties relate to the extent of forest (32.0–42.5 million km2) and grazing land (39–62 million km2), due to discrepancies in definitions and observation methods (Luyssaert et al. 2014121; Erb et al. 2017; Putz and Redford 2010122; Schepaschenko et al. 2015123; Birdsey and Pan 2015124; FAO 2015a125; Chazdon et al. 2016a126; FAO 2018a127). Infrastructure areas (including settlements, transportation and mining), while being almost negligible in terms of extent, represent particularly pervasive land-use activities, with far-reaching ecological, social and economic implications (Cherlet et al. 2018128; Laurance et al. 2014129).

The large imprint of humans on the land surface has led to the definition of anthromes, i.e. large-scale ecological patterns created by the sustained interactions between social and ecological drivers. The dynamics of these ‘anthropogenic biomes’ are key for land-use impacts as well as for the design of integrated response options (Ellis and Ramankutty 2008130; Ellis et al. 2010131; Cherlet et al. 2018132; Ellis et al. 2010133) (Chapter 6).

The intensity of land use varies hugely within and among different land-use types and regions. Averaged globally, around 10% of the ice-free land surface was estimated to be intensively managed (such as tree plantations, high livestock density grazing, large agricultural inputs), two-thirds moderately and the remainder at low intensities (Erb et al. 2016a134). Practically all cropland is fertilised, with large regional variations. Irrigation is responsible for 70% of ground- or surface-water withdrawals by humans (Wisser et al. 2008135; Chaturvedi et al. 2015136; Siebert et al. 2015137; FAOSTAT 2018138). Humans appropriate one-quarter to one-third of the total potential net primary production (NPP), i.e. the NPP that would prevail in the absence of land use (estimated at about 60 GtC yr–1; Bajželj et al. 2014139; Haberl et al. 2014140), about equally through biomass harvest and changes in NPP due to land management. The current total of agricultural (cropland and grazing) biomass harvest is estimated at about 6 GtC yr–1, around 50–60% of this is consumed by livestock. Forestry harvest for timber and wood fuel amounts to about 1 GtC yr–1 (Alexander et al. 2017141; Bodirsky and Müller 2014142; Lassaletta et al. 2014143, 2016; Mottet et al. 2017144; Haberl et al. 2014145; Smith et al. 2014146; Bais et al. 2015147; Bajželj et al. 2014148) (Cross-Chapter Box 7 in Chapter 6).

Table 1.1

Extent of global land use and management around the year 2015.

1.2

Key challenges related to land use change

1.2.1

Land system change, land degradation, desertification and food security

1.2.1.2

Land degradation

As discussed in Chapter 4, the concept of land degradation, including its definition, has been used in different ways in different communities and in previous assessments (such as the IPBES Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment). In the SRCCL, land degradation is defined as a negative trend in land condition, caused by direct or indirect human-induced processes including anthropogenic climate change, expressed as long-term reduction or loss of at least one of the following: biological productivity, ecological integrity or value to humans. This definition applies to forest and non-forest land (Chapter 4 and Glossary).

Land degradation is a critical issue for ecosystems around the world due to the loss of actual or potential productivity or utility (Ravi et al. 2010291; Mirzabaev et al. 2015292; FAO and ITPS 2015293; Cerretelli et al. 2018294). Land degradation is driven to a large degree by unsustainable agriculture and forestry, socio-economic pressures, such as rapid urbanisation and population growth, and unsustainable production practices in combination with climatic factors (Field et al. 2014b295; Lal 2009296; Beinroth et al. 1994297; Abu Hammad and Tumeizi 2012298; Ferreira et al. 2018299; Franco and Giannini 2005300; Abahussain et al. 2002301).

Global estimates of the total degraded area vary from less than 10 million km2 to over 60 million km2, with additionally large disagreement regarding the spatial distribution (Gibbs and Salmon 2015302) (Section 4.3). The annual increase in the degraded land area has been estimated as 50,000–100,000 million km2 yr–1 (Stavi and Lal 2015303), and the loss of total ecosystem services equivalent to about 10% of the world’s GDP in the year 2010 (Sutton et al. 2016304). Although land degradation is a common risk across the globe, poor countries remain most vulnerable to its impacts. Soil degradation is of particular concern, due to the long period necessary to restore soils (Lal 2009; Stockmann et al. 2013305; Lal 2015306), as well as the rapid degradation of primary forests through fragmentation (Haddad et al. 2015307). Among the most vulnerable ecosystems to degradation are high-carbon- stock wetlands (including peatlands). Drainage of natural wetlands for use in agriculture leads to high CO2 emissions and degradation (high confidence) (Strack 2008308; Limpens et al. 2008309; Aich et al. 2014310; Murdiyarso et al. 2015311; Kauffman et al. 2016312; Dohong et al. 2017313; Arifanti et al. 2018314; Evans et al. 2019315). Land degradation is an important factor contributing to uncertainties in the mitigation potential of land-based ecosystems (Smith et al. 2014316). Furthermore, degradation that reduces forest (and agricultural) biomass and soil organic carbon leads to higher rates of runoff (high confidence) (Molina et al. 2007317; Valentin et al. 2008318; Mateos et al. 2017319; Noordwijk et al. 2017320) and hence to increasing flood risk (low confidence) (Bradshaw et al. 2007321; Laurance 2007322; van Dijk et al. 2009323).

1.2.1.3

Desertification

The SRCCL adopts the definition of the UNCCD of desertification, being land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas (drylands) (Glossary and Section 3.1.1). Desertification results from various factors, including climate variations and human activities, and is not limited to irreversible forms of land degradation (Tal 2010930; Bai et al. 2008931). A critical challenge in the assessment of desertification is to identify a ‘non-desertified’ reference state (Bestelmeyer et al. 2015324). While climatic trends and variability can change the intensity of desertification processes, some authors exclude climate effects, arguing that desertification is a purely human-induced process of land degradation with different levels of severity and consequences (Sivakumar 2007325).

As a consequence of varying definitions and different methodologies, the area of desertification varies widely (D’Odorico et al. 2013326; Bestelmeyer et al. 2015327; and references therein). Arid regions of the world cover up to about 46% of the total terrestrial surface (about 60 million km2) (Pravalie 2016328; Koutroulis 2019329). Around 3 billion people reside in dryland regions (D’Odorico et al. 2013330; Maestre et al. 2016331) (Section 3.1.1). In 2015, about 500 (360–620) million people lived within areas which experienced desertification between 1980s and 2000s (Figure 1.1and Section 3.1.1). The combination of low rainfall with frequently infertile soils renders these regions, and the people who rely on them, vulnerable to both climate change, and unsustainable land management (high confidence). In spite of the national, regional and international efforts to combat desertification, it remains one of the major environmental problems (Abahussain et al. 2002332; Cherlet et al. 2018333).

1.2.1.4

Food security, food systems and linkages to land-based ecosystems

The High Level Panel of Experts of the Committee on Food Security define the food system as to “gather all the elements (environment, people, inputs, processes, infrastructures, institutions, etc.) and activities that relate to the production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption of food, and the output of these activities, including socio-economic and environmental outcomes” (HLPE 2017334). Likewise, food security has been defined as “a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (FAO 2017335). By this definition, food security is characterised by food availability, economic and physical access to food, food utilisation and food stability over time. Food and nutrition security is one of the key outcomes of the food system (FAO 2018b336; Figure 1.4).

After a prolonged decline, world hunger appears to be on the rise again, with the number of undernourished people having increased to an estimated 821 million in 2017, up from 804 million in 2016 and 784 million in 2015, although still below the 900 million reported in 2000 (FAO et al. 2018337) (Section 5.1.2). Of the total undernourished in 2018, for example, 256.5 million lived in Africa, and 515.1 million in Asia (excluding Japan). The same FAO report also states that child undernourishment continues to decline, but levels of overweight populations and obesity are increasing. The total number of overweight children in 2017 was 38–40 million worldwide, and globally up to around two billion adults are by now overweight (Section 5.1.2). FAO also estimated that close to 2000 million people suffer from micronutrient malnutrition (FAO 2018b338).

Food insecurity most notably occurs in situations of conflict, and conflict combined with droughts or floods (Cafiero et al. 2018339; Smith et al. 2017340). The close parallel between food insecurity prevalence and poverty means that tackling development priorities would enhance sustainable land use options for climate mitigation.

Climate change affects the food system as changes in trends and variability in rainfall and temperature variability impact crop and livestock productivity and total production (Osborne and Wheeler 2013341; Tigchelaar et al. 2018342; Iizumi and Ramankutty 2015343), the nutritional quality of food (Loladze 2014344; Myers et al. 2014345; Ziska et al. 2016346; Medek et al. 2017347), water supply (Nkhonjera 2017348), and incidence of pests and diseases (Curtis et al. 2018349). These factors also impact on human health, increasing morbidity and affecting human ability to process ingested food (Franchini and Mannucci 2015350; Wu et al. 2016351; Raiten and Aimone 2017352). At the same time, the food system generates negative externalities (the environmental effects of production and consumption) in the form of GHG emissions

(Sections 1.1.2 and 2.3), pollution (van Noordwijk and Brussaard 2014353; Thyberg and Tonjes 2016354; Borsato et al. 2018355; Kibler et al. 2018356), water quality (Malone et al. 2014357; Norse and Ju 2015358), and ecosystem services loss (Schipper et al. 2014359; Eeraerts et al. 2017360) with direct and indirect impacts on climate change and reduced resilience to climate variability. As food systems are assessed in relation to their contribution to global warming and/or to land degradation (e.g., livestock systems) it is critical to evaluate their contribution to food security and livelihoods and to consider alternatives, especially for developing countries where food insecurity is prevalent (Röös et al. 2017361; Salmon et al. 2018362).

Figure 1.4

Food system (and its relations to land and climate):The food system is conceptualised through supply (production, processing, marketing and retailing) and demand (consumption and diets) that are shaped by physical, economic, social and cultural determinants influencing choices, access, utilisation, quality, safety and waste. Food system drivers (ecosystem services, economics and technology, social and cultural norms […]

Food system (and its relations to land and climate):The food system is conceptualised through supply (production, processing, marketing and retailing) and demand (consumption and diets) that are shaped by physical, economic, social and cultural determinants influencing choices, access, utilisation, quality, safety and waste. Food system drivers (ecosystem services, economics and technology, social and cultural norms and traditions, and demographics) combine with the enabling conditions (policies, institutions and governance) to affect food system outcomes including food security, nutrition and health, livelihoods, economic and cultural benefits as well as environmental outcomes or side-effects (nutrient and soil loss, water use and quality, GHG emissions and other pollutants). Climate and climate change have direct impacts on the food system (productivity, variability, nutritional quality) while the latter contributes to local climate (albedo, evapotranspiration) and global warming (GHGs). The land system (function, structures, and processes) affects the food system directly (food production) and indirectly (ecosystem services) while food demand and supply processes affect land (land-use change) and land-related processes (e.g., land degradation, desertification) (Chapter 5).

1.2.1.5

Challenges arising from land governance

Land-use change has both positive and negative effects: it can lead to economic growth, but it can become a source of tension and social unrest leading to elite capture, and competition (Haberl 2015363). Competition for land plays out continuously among different use types (cropland, pastureland, forests, urban spaces, and conservation and protected lands) and between different users within the same land-use category (subsistence vs commercial farmers) (Dell’Angelo et al. 2017b364). Competition is mediated through economic and market forces (expressed through land rental and purchases, as well as trade and investments). In the context of such transactions, power relations often disfavour disadvantaged groups such as small-scale farmers, indigenous communities or women (Doss et al. 2015365; Ravnborg et al. 2016366). These drivers are influenced to a large degree by policies, institutions and governance structures. Land governance determines not only who can access the land, but also the role of land ownership (legal, formal, customary or collective) which influences land use, land-use change and the resulting land competition (Moroni 2018367).

Globally, there is competition for land because it is a finite resource and because most of the highly productive land is already exploited by humans (Lambin and Meyfroidt 2011368; Lambin 2012369; Venter et al. 2016370). Driven by growing population, urbanisation, demand for food and energy, as well as land degradation, competition for land is expected to accentuate land scarcity in the future (Tilman et al. 2011371; Foley et al. 2011372; Lambin 2012373; Popp et al. 2016374) (robust evidence, high agreement). Climate change influences land use both directly and indirectly, as climate policies can also a play a role in increasing land competition via forest conservation policies, afforestation, or energy crop production (Section 1.3.1), with the potential for implications for food security (Hussein et al. 2013375) and local land-ownership.

An example of large-scale change in land ownership is the much-debated large-scale land acquisition (LSLA) by investors which peaked in 2008 during the food price crisis, the financial crisis, and has also been linked to the search for biofuel investments (Dell’Angelo et al. 2017a376). Since 2000, almost 50 million hectares of land have been acquired, and there are no signs of stagnation in the foreseeable future (Land Matrix 2018377).The LSLA phenomenon, which largely targets agriculture, is widespread, including Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America (Rulli et al. 2012378; Nolte et al. 2016379; Constantin et al. 2017380). LSLAs are promoted by investors and host governments on economic grounds (infrastructure, employment, market development) (Deininger et al. 2011381), but their social and environmental impacts can be negative and significant (Dell’Angelo et al. 2017a382).

Much of the criticism of LSLA focuses on its social impacts, especially the threat to local communities’ land rights (especially indigenous people and women) (Anseeuw et al. 2011383) and displaced communities creating secondary land expansion (Messerli et al. 2014384; Davis et al. 2015385). The promises that LSLAs would develop efficient agriculture on non-forested, unused land (Deininger et al. 2011386) has so far not been fulfilled. However, LSLA is not the only outcome of weak land governance structures (Wang et al. 2016387): other forms of inequitable or irregular land acquisition can also be home-grown, pitting one community against a more vulnerable group (Xu 2018388) or land capture by urban elites (McDonnell 2017389). As demands on land are increasing, building governance capacity and securing land tenure becomes essential to attain sustainable land use, which has the potential to mitigate climate change, promote food security, and potentially reduce risks of climate-induced migration and associated risks of conflicts (Section 7.6).

 

1.2.2

Progress in dealing with uncertainties in assessing land processes in the climate system

1.2.2.3

Uncertainties in decision-making

Decision-makers develop and implement policy in the face of many uncertainties (Rosenzweig and Neofotis 2013528; Anav et al. 2013529; Ciais et al. 2013a530; Stocker et al. 2013b531) (Section 7.5). In context of climate change, the term ‘deep uncertainty’ is frequently used to denote situations in which either the analysis of a situation is inconclusive, or parties to a decision cannot agree on a number of criteria that would help to rank model results in terms of likelihood (e.g., Hallegatte and Mach 2016532; Maier et al. 2016533) (Sections 7.1 and 7.5, and Table SM.1.2 in Supplementary Material). However, existing uncertainty does not support societal and political inaction.

The many ways of dealing with uncertainty in decision-making can be summarised by two decision approaches: (economic) cost-benefit analysis, and the precautionary approach. A typical variant of cost-benefit analysis is the minimisation of negative consequences. This approach needs reliable probability estimates (Gleckler et al. 2016534; Parker 2013535) and tends to focus on the short term. The precautionary approach does not take account of probability estimates (cf. Raffensperger and Tickner 1999536), but instead focuses on avoiding the worst outcome (Gardiner 2006537).

Between these two extremes, various decision approaches seek to address uncertainties in a more reflective manner that avoids the limitations of cost-benefit analysis and the precautionary approach. Climate-informed decision analysis combines various approaches to explore options and the vulnerabilities and sensitivities of certain decisions. Such an approach includes stakeholder involvement (e.g., elicitation methods), and can be combined with, for example, analysis of climate or land-use change modelling (Hallegatte and Rentschler 2015538; Luedeling and Shepherd 2016539).

Flexibility is facilitated by political decisions that are not set in stone and can change over time (Walker et al. 2013540; Hallegatte and Rentschler 2015541). Generally, within the research community that investigates deep uncertainty, a paradigm is emerging that requires the development of a strategic vision of the long – or mid-term future, while committing to short-term actions and establishing a framework to guide future actions, including revisions and flexible adjustment of decisions (Haasnoot 2013542) (Section 7.5).

1.3

Response options to the key challenges

A number of response options underpin solutions to the challenges arising from GHG emissions from land, and the loss of productivity arising from degradation and desertification. These options are discussed in Sections 2.5 and 6.2 and rely on (i) land management, (ii) value chain management, and (iii) risk management (Table 1.2). None of these response options are mutually exclusive, and it is their combination in a regionally, context-specific manner that is most likely to achieve co-benefits between climate change mitigation, adaptation and other environmental challenges in a cost-effective way (Griscom et al. 2017543; Kok et al. 2018544). Sustainable solutions affecting both demand and supply are expected to yield most co-benefits if these rely not only on the carbon footprint, but are extended to other vital ecosystems such as water, nutrients and biodiversity footprints (van Noordwijk and Brussaard 2014545; Cremasch 2016546). As an entry point to the discussion in Chapter 6, we introduce here a selected number of examples that cut across climate change mitigation, food security, desertification, and degradation issues, including potential trade-offs and co-benefits.

Table 1.2

Broad categorisation of response options into three main classes and eight sub-classes.

For illustration, the table includes examples of individual response options. A complete list and description is provided in Chapter 6.

Response options based on land management

in agriculture

Improved management of: cropland, grazing land, livestock; agro-forestry; avoidance of conversion of grassland to cropland; integrated water management

in forests

Improved management of forests and forest restoration; reduced deforestation and degradation; afforestation

of soils

Increased soil organic carbon content; reduced soil erosion; reduced soil salinisation

across all/other ecosystems

Reduced landslides and natural hazards; reduced pollution including acidification; biodiversity conservation; restoration and reduced conversion of peatlands

specifically for CO2 removal

Enhanced weathering of minerals; bioenergy and BECCS

Response options based on value chain management

through demand management

Dietary change; reduced post-harvest losses; reduced food waste

through supply management

Sustainable sourcing; improved energy use in food systems; improved food processing and retailing

Response options based on risk management

Risk management

Risk-sharing instruments; use of local seeds; disaster risk management

1.3.1

Targeted decarbonisation relying on large land-area need

Most global future scenarios that aim to achieve global warming of 2°C or well below rely on bioenergy (BE; BECCS, with carbon capture and storage; Cross-Chapter Box 7 in Chapter 6) or afforestation and reforestation (de Coninck et al. 2018547; Rogelj et al. 2018b548,a549; Anderson and Peters 2016550; Popp et al. 2016551; Smith et al. 2016552) (Cross-Chapter Box 2 in Chapter 1). In addition to the very large area requirements projected for 2050 or 2100, several other aspects of these scenarios have also been criticised. For instance, they simulate very rapid technological and societal uptake rates for the land-related mitigation measures, when compared with historical observations (Turner et al. 2018553; Brown et al. 2019554; Vaughan and Gough 2016555). Furthermore, confidence in the projected bioenergy or BECCS net carbon uptake potential is low, because of many diverging assumptions. This includes assumptions about bioenergy crop yields, the possibly large energy demand for CCS, which diminishes the net-GHG-saving of bioenergy systems, or the incomplete accounting for ecosystem processes and of the cumulative carbon-loss arising from natural vegetation clearance for bioenergy crops or bioenergy forests and subsequent harvest regimes (Anderson and Peters 2016556; Bentsen 2017557; Searchinger et al. 2017558; Bayer et al. 2017559; Fuchs et al. 2017560; Pingoud et al. 2018561; Schlesinger 2018562). Bioenergy provision under politically unstable conditions may also be a problem (Erb et al. 2012563; Searle and Malins 2015564).

Large-scale bioenergy plantations and forests may compete for the same land area (Harper et al. 2018565). Both potentially have adverse side effects on biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as socio-economic trade-offs such as higher food prices due to land-area competition (Shi et al. 2013566; Bárcena et al. 2014567; Fernandez-Martinez et al. 2014568; Searchinger et al. 2015569; Bonsch et al. 2016570; Creutzig et al. 2015571; Kreidenweis et al. 2016572; Santangeli et al. 2016573; Williamson 2016574; Graham et al. 2017575; Krause et al. 2017576; Hasegawa et al. 2018577; Humpenoeder et al. 2018578). Although forest-based mitigation could have co-benefits for biodiversity and many ecosystem services, this depends on the type of forest planted and the vegetation cover it replaces (Popp et al. 2014579; Searchinger et al. 2015580) (Cross-Chapter Box 2 in Chapter 1).

There is high confidence that scenarios with large land requirements for climate change mitigation may not achieve SDGs, such as no poverty, zero hunger and life on land, if competition for land and the need for agricultural intensification are greatly enhanced (Creutzig et al. 2016581; Dooley and Kartha 2018582; Hasegawa et al. 2015583; Hof et al. 2018584; Roy et al. 2018585; Santangeli et al. 2016586; Boysen et al. 2017587; Henry et al. 2018588; Kreidenweis et al. 2016589; UN 2015590). This does not mean that smaller-scale land-based climate mitigation could not have positive outcomes for then achieving these goals (e.g., Sections 6.2, and 4.5, Cross-Chapter Box 7 in Chapter 6).

1.3.2

Land management

1.3.2.1

Agricultural, forest and soil management

Sustainable land management (SLM) describes “the stewardship and use of land resources, including soils, water, animals and plants, to meet changing human needs while simultaneously assuring the long-term productive potential of these resources and the maintenance of their environmental functions” (Alemu 2016704; Altieri and Nicholls 2017705) (e.g., Section 4.1.5), and includes ecological, technological and governance aspects.

The choice of SLM strategy is a function of regional context and land-use types, with high agreement on (a combination of) choices such as agroecology (including agroforestry), conservation agriculture and forestry practices, crop and forest species diversity, appropriate crop and forest rotations, organic farming, integrated pest management, the preservation and protection of pollination services, rainwater harvesting, range and pasture management, and precision agriculture systems (Stockmann et al. 2013706; Ebert, 2014707; Schulte et al. 2014708; Zhang et al. 2015709; Sunil and Pandravada 2015710; Poeplau and Don 2015711; Agus et al. 2015712; Keenan 2015713; MacDicken et al. 2015714; Abberton et al. 2016715). Conservation agriculture and forestry uses management practices with minimal soil disturbance such as no tillage or minimum tillage, permanent soil cover with mulch, combined with rotations to ensure a permanent soil surface, or rapid regeneration of forest following harvest (Hobbs et al. 2008716; Friedrich et al. 2012717). Vegetation and soils in forests and woodland ecosystems play a crucial role in regulating critical ecosystem processes, therefore reduced deforestation together with sustainable forest management are integral to SLM (FAO 2015b718) (Section 4.8). In some circumstances, increased demand for forest products can also lead to increased management of carbon storage in forests (Favero and Mendelsohn 2014719). Precision agriculture is characterised by a “management system that is information and technology based, is site specific and uses one or more of the following sources of data: soils, crops, nutrients, pests, moisture, or yield, for optimum profitability, sustainability, and protection of the environment” (USDA 2007720) (Cross-Chapter Box 6 in Chapter 5). The management of protected areas that reduce deforestation also plays an important role in climate change mitigation and adaptation while delivering numerous ecosystem services and sustainable development benefits (Bebber and Butt 2017721). Similarly, when managed in an integrated and sustainable way, peatlands are also known to provide numerous ecosystem services, as well as socio-economic and mitigation and adaptation benefits (Ziadat et al. 2018722).

Biochar is an organic compound used as soil amendment and is believed to be potentially an important global resource for mitigation. Enhancing the carbon content of soil and/or use of biochar (Chapter 4) have become increasingly important as a climate change mitigation option with possibly large co-benefits for other ecosystem services. Enhancing soil carbon storage and the addition of biochar can be practiced with limited competition for land, provided no productivity/ yield loss and abundant unused biomass, but evidence is limited and impacts of large scale application of biochar on the full GHG balance of soils, or human health are yet to be explored (Gurwick et al. 2013723; Lorenz and Lal 2014724; Smith 2016725).

1.3.3

Value chain management

1.3.3.1

Supply management

Food losses from harvest to retailer. Approximately one-third of losses and waste in the food system occurs between crop production and food consumption, increasing substantially if losses in livestock production and overeating are included (Gustavsson et al. 2011726; Alexander et al. 2017727). This includes on-farm losses, farm to retailer losses, as well retailer and consumer losses (Section 1.3.3.2).

Post-harvest food loss – on farm and from farm to retailer – is a widespread problem, especially in developing countries (Xue et al. 2017728), but are challenging to quantify. For instance, averaged for eastern and southern Africa an estimated 10–17% of annual grain production is lost (Zorya et al. 2011729). Across 84 countries and different time periods, annual median losses in the supply chain before retailing were estimated at about 28 kg per capita for cereals or about 12 kg per capita for eggs and dairy products (Xue et al. 2017730). For the year 2013, losses prior to the reaching retailers were estimated at 20% (dry weight) of the production amount (22% wet weight) (Gustavsson et al. 2011731; Alexander et al. 2017732). While losses of food cannot be realistically reduced to zero, advancing harvesting technologies (Bradford et al. 2018733; Affognon et al. 2015734), storage capacity (Chegere 2018735) and efficient transportation could all contribute to reducing these losses with co-benefits for food availability, the land area needed for food production and related GHG emissions.

Stability of food supply, transport and distribution. Increased climate variability enhances fluctuations in world food supply and price variability (Warren 2014736; Challinor et al. 2015737; Elbehri et al. 2017738). ‘Food price shocks’ need to be understood regarding their transmission across sectors and borders and impacts on poor and food insecure populations, including urban poor subject to food deserts and inadequate food accessibility (Widener et al. 2017739; Lehmann et al. 2013740; Le 2016741; FAO 2015b742). Trade can play an important stabilising role in food supply, especially for regions with agro-ecological limits to production, including water scarce regions, as well as regions that experience short-term production variability due to climate, conflicts or other economic shocks (Gilmont 2015743; Marchand et al. 2016744). Food trade can either increase or reduce the overall environmental impacts of agriculture (Kastner et al. 2014745). Embedded in trade are virtual transfers of water, land area, productivity, ecosystem services, biodiversity, or nutrients (Marques et al. 2019746; Wiedmann and Lenzen 2018747; Chaudhary and Kastner 2016748) with either positive or negative implications (Chen et al. 2018749; Yu et al. 2013750). Detrimental consequences in countries in which trade dependency may accentuate the risk of food shortages from foreign production shocks could be reduced by increasing domestic reserves or importing food from a diversity of suppliers (Gilmont 2015751; Marchand et al. 2016752).

Climate mitigation policies could create new trade opportunities (e.g., biomass) (Favero and Massetti 2014753) or alter existing trade patterns. The transportation GHG footprints of supply chains may be causing a differentiation between short and long supply chains (Schmidt et al. 2017754) that may be influenced by both economics and policy measures (Section 5.4). In the absence of sustainable practices and when the ecological footprint is not valued through the market system, trade can also exacerbate resource exploitation and environmental leakages, thus weakening trade mitigation contributions (Dalin and Rodríguez-Iturbe 2016755; Mosnier et al. 2014756; Elbehri et al. 2017757). Ensuring stable food supply while pursuing climate mitigation and adaptation will benefit from evolving trade rules and policies that allow internalisation of the cost of carbon (and costs of other vital resources such as water, nutrients). Likewise, future climate change mitigation policies would gain from measures designed to internalise the environmental costs of resources and the benefits of ecosystem services (Elbehri et al. 2017758; Brown et al. 2007759).

1.3.3.2

Demand management

Dietary change. Demand-side solutions to climate mitigation are an essential complement to supply-side, technology and productivity driven solutions (high confidence) (Creutzig et al. 2016760; Bajželj et al. 2014761; Erb et al. 2016b762; Creutzig et al. 2018763) (Sections 5.5.1 and 5.5.2). The environmental impacts of the animal-rich ‘western diets’ are being examined critically in the scientific literature (Hallström et al. 2015764; Alexander et al. 2016b765; Alexander et al. 2015766; Tilman and Clark 2014767; Aleksandrowicz et al. 2016768; Poore and Nemecek 2018769) (Section 5.4.6). For example, if the average diet of each country were consumed globally, the agricultural land area needed to supply these diets would vary 14-fold, due to country differences in ruminant protein and calorific intake (–55% to +178% compared to existing cropland areas). Given the important role enteric fermentation plays in methane (CH4) emissions, a number of studies have examined the implications of lower animal-protein diets (Swain et al. 2018770; Röös et al. 2017771; Rao et al. 2018772). Reduction of animal protein intake has been estimated to reduce global green water (from precipitation) use by 11% and blue water (from rivers, lakes, groundwater) use by 6% (Jalava et al. 2014773). By avoiding meat from producers with above-median GHG emissions and halving animal-product intake, consumption change could free-up 21 million km2 of agricultural land and reduce GHG emissions by nearly 5 GtCO2-eq yr–1 or up to 10.4 GtCO2-eq yr–1 when vegetation carbon uptake is considered on the previously agricultural land (Poore and Nemecek 2018774, 2019).

Diets can be location and community specific, are rooted in culture and traditions while responding to changing lifestyles driven for instance by urbanisation and changing income. Changing dietary and consumption habits would require a combination of non-price (government procurement, regulations, education and awareness raising) and price incentives (Juhl and Jensen 2014775) to induce consumer behavioural change with potential synergies between climate, health and equity (addressing growing global nutrition imbalances that emerge as undernutrition, malnutrition, and obesity) (FAO 2018b776).

Reduced waste and losses in the food demand system. Global averaged per capita food waste and loss (FWL) have increased by 44% between 1961 and 2011 (Porter et al. 2016777) and are now around 25–30% of global food produced (Kummu et al. 2012778; Alexander et al. 2017779). Food waste occurs at all stages of the food supply chain from the household to the marketplace (Parfitt et al. 2010780) and is found to be larger at household than at supply chain levels. A meta-analysis of 55 studies showed that the highest share of food waste was at the consumer stage (43.9% of total) with waste increasing with per capita GDP for high-income countries until a plateaux at about 100 kg cap–1 yr–1 (around 16% of food consumption) above about 70,000 USD cap–1 (van der Werf and Gilliland 2017781; Xue et al. 2017782). Food loss from supply chains tends to be more prevalent in less developed countries where inadequate technologies, limited infrastructure, and imperfect markets combine to raise the share of the food production lost before use.

There are several causes behind food waste including economics (cheap food), food policies (subsidies) as well as individual behaviour (Schanes et al. 2018783). Household level food waste arises from overeating or overbuying (Thyberg and Tonjes 2016784). Globally, overconsumption was found to waste 9–10% of food bought (Alexander et al. 2017785).

Solutions to FWL thus need to address technical and economic aspects. Such solutions would benefit from more accurate data on the loss-source, loss-magnitude and causes along the food supply chain. In the long run, internalising the cost of food waste into the product price would more likely induce a shift in consumer behaviour towards less waste and more nutritious, or alternative, food intake (FAO 2018b786). Reducing FWL would bring a range of benefits for health, reducing pressures on land, water and nutrients, lowering emissions and safeguarding food security. Reducing food waste by 50% would generate net emissions reductions in the range of 20 to 30% of total food-sourced GHGs (Bajželj et al. 2014787). SDG 12 (“Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”) calls for per capita global food waste to be reduced by one-half at the retail and consumer level, and reducing food losses along production and supply chains by 2030.

1.3.4

Risk management

Risk management refers to plans, actions, strategies or policies to reduce the likelihood and/or magnitude of adverse potential consequences, based on assessed or perceived risks. Insurance and early warning systems are examples of risk management, but risk can also be reduced (or resilience enhanced) through a broad set of options ranging from seed sovereignty, livelihood diversification, to reducing land loss through urban sprawl. Early warning systems support farmer decision-making on management strategies (Section 1.2) and are a good example of an adaptation measure with mitigation co-benefits such as reducing carbon losses (Section 1.3.6). Primarily designed to avoid yield losses, early warning systems also support fire management strategies in forest ecosystems, which prevents financial as well as carbon losses (de Groot et al. 2015788). Given that over recent decades on average around 10% of cereal production was lost through extreme weather events (Lesk et al. 2016790), where available and affordable, insurance can buffer farmers and foresters against the financial losses incurred through such weather and other (fire, pests) extremes (Falco et al. 2014791) (Sections 7.2 and 7.4). Decisions to take up insurance are influenced by a range of factors such as the removal of subsidies or targeted education (Falco et al. 2014). Enhancing access and affordability of insurance in low-income countries is a specific objective of the UNFCCC (Linnerooth-Bayer and Mechler 2006792). A global mitigation co-benefit of insurance schemes may also include incentives for future risk reduction (Surminski and Oramas-Dorta 2014793).

1.3.5

Economics of land-based mitigation pathways: Costs versus benefits of early action under uncertainty

The overarching societal costs associated with GHG emissions and the potential implications of mitigation activities can be measured by various metrics (cost-benefit analysis, cost effectiveness analysis) at different scales (project, technology, sector or the economy) (IPCC 2018794) (Section 1.4). The social cost of carbon (SCC) measures the total net damages of an extra metric tonne of CO2 emissions due to the associated climate change (Nordhaus 2014795; Pizer et al. 2014796). Both negative and positive impacts are monetised and discounted to arrive at the net value of consumption loss. As the SCC depends on discount rate assumptions and value judgements (e.g., relative weight given to current vs future generations), it is not a straightforward policy tool to compare alternative options. At the sectoral level, marginal abatement cost curves (MACCs) are widely used for the assessment  of costs related to GHG emissions reduction. MACCs measure the cost of reducing one more GHG unit and are either expert-based or model-derived and offer a range of approaches and assumptions on discount rates or available abatement technologies (Kesicki 2013797). In land-based sectors, Gillingham and Stock (2018)798 reported short-term static abatement costs for afforestation of between 1 and 10 USD2017 per tCO2, soil management at 57 and livestock management at 71 USD2017 per tCO2. MACCs are more reliable when used to rank alternative options compared to a baseline (or business as usual) rather than offering absolute numerical measures (Huang et al. 2016799). The economics of land-based mitigation options encompass also the “costs of inaction” that arise either from the economic damages due to continued accumulation of GHGs in the atmosphere and from the diminution in value of ecosystem services or the cost of their restoration where feasible (Rodriguez-Labajos 2013800; Ricke et al. 2018801). Overall, it remains challenging to estimate the costs of alternative mitigation options owing to the context – and scale-specific interplay between multiple drivers (technological, economic, and socio-cultural) and enabling policies and institutions (IPCC 2018802) (Section 1.4).

The costs associated with mitigation (both project-linked such as capital costs or land rental rates, or sometimes social costs) generally increase with stringent mitigation targets and over time. Sources of uncertainty include the future availability, cost and performance of technologies (Rosen and Guenther 2015803; Chen et al. 2016804) or lags in decision-making, which have been demonstrated by the uptake of land use and land utilisation policies (Alexander et al. 2013805; Hull et al. 2015806; Brown et al. 2018b807). There is growing evidence of significant mitigation gains through conservation, restoration and improved land management practices (Griscom et al. 2017808; Kindermann et al. 2008809; Golub et al. 2013810; Favero et al. 2017811) (Chapters 4 and 6), but the mitigation cost efficiency can vary according to region and specific ecosystem (Albanito et al. 2016812). Recent model developments that treat process-based, human–environment interactions have recognised feedbacks that reinforce or dampen the original stimulus for land-use change (Robinson et al. 2017813; Walters and Scholes 2017814). For instance, land mitigation interventions that rely on large-scale, land-use change (e.g., afforestation) would need to account for the rebound effect (which dampens initial impacts due to feedbacks) in which raising land prices also raises the cost of land-based mitigation (Vivanco et al. 2016815). Although there are few direct estimates, indirect assessments strongly point to much higher costs if action is delayed or limited in scope (medium confidence). Quicker response options are also needed to avoid loss of high-carbon ecosystems and other vital ecosystem services that provide multiple services that are difficult to replace (peatlands, wetlands, mangroves, forests) (Yirdaw et al. 2017816; Pedrozo-Acuña et al. 2015817). Delayed action would raise relative costs in the future or could make response options less feasible (medium confidence) (Goldstein et al. 2019818; Butler et al. 2014819).

1.3.6

Adaptation measures and scope for co-benefits with mitigation

Adaptation and mitigation have generally been treated as two separate discourses, both in policy and practice, with mitigation addressing cause and adaptation dealing with the consequences of climate change (Hennessey et al. 2017820). While adaptation (e.g., reducing flood risks) and mitigation (e.g., reducing non-CO2 emissions from agriculture) may have different objectives and operate at different scales, they can also generate joint outcomes (Locatelli et al. 2015b821) with adaptation generating mitigation co-benefits. Seeking to integrate strategies for achieving adaptation and mitigation goals is attractive in order to reduce competition for limited resources and trade-offs (Lobell et al. 2013822; Berry et al. 2015823; Kongsager and Corbera 2015824). Moreover, determinants that can foster adaptation and mitigation practices are similar. These tend to include available technology and resources, and credible information for policymakers to act on (Yohe 2001825).

Four sets of mitigation–adaptation interrelationships can be distinguished: (i) mitigation actions that can result in adaptation benefits; (ii) adaptation actions that have mitigation benefits; (iii) processes that have implications for both adaptation and mitigation; and (iv) strategies and policy processes that seek to promote an integrated set of responses for both adaptation and mitigation (Klein et al. 2007). A high level of adaptive capacity is a key ingredient to developing successful mitigation policy. Implementing mitigation action can result in increasing resilience especially if it is able to reduce risks. Yet, mitigation and adaptation objectives, scale of implementation, sector and even metrics to identify impacts tend to differ (Ayers and Huq 2009826), and institutional setting, often does not enable an environment where synergies are sought (Kongsager et al. 2016827). Trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation exist as well and need to be understood (and avoided) to establish win-win situations (Porter et al. 2014828; Kongsager et al. 2016829).

Forestry and agriculture offer a wide range of lessons for the integration of adaptation and mitigation actions given the vulnerability of forest ecosystems or cropland to climate variability and change (Keenan 2015830; Gaba et al. 2015831) (Sections 5.6 and 4.8). Increasing adaptive capacity in forested areas has the potential to prevent deforestation and forest degradation (Locatelli et al. 2011832). Reforestation projects, if well managed, can increase community economic opportunities that encourage conservation (Nelson and de Jong 2003833), build capacity through training of farmers and installation of multifunctional plantations with income generation (Reyer et al. 2009834), strengthen local institutions (Locatelli et al. 2015a835) and increase cash-flow to local forest stakeholders from foreign donors (West 2016836). A forest plantation that sequesters carbon for mitigation can also reduce water availability to downstream populations and heighten their vulnerability to drought. Inversely, not recognising mitigation in adaptation projects may yield adaptation measures that increase greenhouse gas emissions, a prime example of ‘maladaptation’. Analogously, ‘mal-mitigation’ would result in reducing GHG emissions, but increasing vulnerability (Barnett and O’Neill 2010837; Porter et al. 2014838). For instance, the cost of pursuing large-scale adaptation and mitigation projects has been associated with higher failure risks, onerous transactions costs and the complexity of managing big projects (Swart and Raes 2007839).

Adaptation encompasses both biophysical and socio-economic vulnerability and underlying causes (informational, capacity, financial, institutional, and technological; Huq et al. 2014840) and it is increasingly linked to resilience and to broader development goals (Huq et al. 2014841). Adaptation measures can increase performance of mitigation projects under climate change and legitimise mitigation measures through the more immediately felt effects of adaptation (Locatelli et al. 2011842; Campbell et al. 2014843; Locatelli et al. 2015b844). Effective climate policy integration in the land sector is expected to gain from (i) internal policy coherence between adaptation and mitigation objectives, (ii) external climate coherence between climate change and development objectives, (iii) policy integration that favours vertical governance structures to foster effective mainstreaming of climate change into sectoral policies, and (iv) horizontal policy integration through overarching governance structures to enable cross-sectoral coordination (Sections 1.4 and 7.4).

1.4

Enabling the response

Climate change and sustainable development are challenges to society that require action at local, national, transboundary and global scales. Different time-perspectives are also important in decision-making, ranging from immediate actions to long-term planning and investment. Acknowledging the systemic link between food production and consumption, and land-resources more broadly is expected to enhance the success of actions (Bazilian et al. 2011845; Hussey and Pittock 2012846). Because of the complexity of challenges and the diversity of actors involved in addressing these challenges, decision-making would benefit from a portfolio of policy instruments. Decision-making would also be facilitated by overcoming barriers such as inadequate education and funding mechanisms, as well as integrating international decisions into all relevant (sub)national sectoral policies (Section 7.4).

‘Nexus thinking’ emerged as an alternative to the sector-specific governance of natural resource use to achieve global securities of water (D’Odorico et al. 2018847), food and energy (Hoff 2011848; Allan et al. 2015849), and also to address biodiversity concerns (Fischer et al. 2017850). Yet, there is no agreed definition of “nexus” nor a uniform framework to approach the concept, which may be land-focused (Howells et al. 2013851), water-focused (Hoff 2011852) or food-centred (Ringler and Lawford 2013853; Biggs et al. 2015854). Significant barriers remain to establish nexus approaches as part of a wider repertoire of responses to global environmental change, including challenges to cross-disciplinary collaboration, complexity, political economy and the incompatibility of current institutional structures (Hayley et al. 2015855; Wichelns 2017856) (Sections 7.5.6 and 7.6.2).

1.4.1

Governance to enable the response

Governance includes the processes, structures, rules and traditions applied by formal and informal actors including governments, markets, organisations, and their interactions with people. Land governance actors include those affecting policies and markets, and those directly changing land use (Hersperger et al. 2010858). The former includes governments and administrative entities, large companies investing in land, non-governmental institutions and international institutions. It also includes UN agencies that are working at the interface between climate change and land management, such as the FAO and the World Food Programme that have inter alia worked on advancing knowledge to support food security through the improvement of techniques and strategies for more resilient farm systems. Farmers and foresters directly act on land (actors in proximate causes) (Hersperger et al. 2010) (Chapter 7).

Policy design and formulation has often been strongly sectoral. For example, agricultural policy might be concerned with food security, but have little concern for environmental protection or human health. As food, energy and water security and the conservation of biodiversity rank highly on the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, the promotion of synergies between and across sectoral policies is important (IPBES 2018a859). This can also reduce the risks of anthropogenic climate forcing through mitigation, and bring greater collaboration between scientists, policymakers, the private sector and land managers in adapting to climate change (FAO 2015a860). Polycentric governance (Section 7.6) has emerged as an appropriate way of handling resource management problems, in which the decision-making centres take account of one another in competitive and cooperative relationships and have recourse to conflict resolution mechanisms (Carlisle and Gruby 2017861). Polycentric governance is also multi-scale and allows the interaction between actors at different levels (local, regional, national and global) in managing common pool resources such as forests or aquifers.

Implementation of systemic, nexus approaches has been achieved through socio-ecological systems (SES) frameworks that emerged from studies of how institutions affect human incentives, actions and outcomes (Ostrom and Cox 2010862). Recognition of the importance of SES laid the basis for alternative formulations to tackle the sustainable management of land resources focusing specifically on institutional and governance outcomes (Lebel et al. 2006863; Bodin 2017864). The SES approach also addresses the multiple scales in which the social and ecological dimensions interact (Veldkamp et al. 2011865; Myers et al. 2016866; Azizi et al. 2017867) (Section 6.1).

Adaptation or resilience pathways within the SES frameworks require several attributes, including indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) and trust building for deliberative decision-making and effective collective action, polycentric and multi-layered institutions and responsible authorities that pursue just distributions of benefits to enhance the adaptive capacity of vulnerable groups and communities (Lebel et al. 2006868). The nature, source and mode of knowledge generation are critical to ensure that sustainable solutions are community-owned and fully integrated within the local context (Mistry and Berardi 2016869; Schneider and Buser 2018870). Integrating ILK with scientific information is a prerequisite for such community-owned solutions (Cross-Chapter Box 13 in Chapter 7). ILK is context-specific, transmitted orally or through imitation and demonstration, adaptive to changing environments, and collectivised through a shared social memory (Mistry and Berardi 2016871). ILK is also holistic since indigenous people do not seek solutions aimed at adapting to climate change alone, but instead look for solutions to increase their resilience to a wide range of shocks and stresses (Mistry and Berardi 2016872). ILK can be deployed in the practice of climate governance, especially at the local level where actions are informed by the principles of decentralisation and autonomy (Chanza and de Wit 2016873). ILK need not be viewed as needing confirmation or disapproval by formal science, but rather it can complement scientific knowledge (Klein et al. 2014874).

The capacity to apply individual policy instruments and policy mixes is influenced by governance modes. These modes include hierarchical governance that is centralised and imposes policy through top-down measures, decentralised governance in which public policy is devolved to regional or local government, public-private partnerships that aim for mutual benefits for the public and private sectors and self or private governance that involves decisions beyond the realms of the public sector (IPBES 2018a875). These governance modes provide both constraints and opportunities for key actors that impact the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of policy implementation.

1.4.2

Gender agency as a critical factor in climate and land sustainability outcomes

Environmental resource management is not gender neutral. Gender is an essential variable in shaping ecological processes and change, building better prospects for livelihoods and sustainable development (Resurrección 2013876) (Cross-Chapter Box 11 in Chapter 7). Entrenched legal and social structures and power relations constitute additional stressors that render women’s experience of natural resources disproportionately negative when compared to men. Socio-economic drivers and entrenched gender inequalities affect land-based management (Agarwal 2010877). The intersections between climate change, gender and climate adaptation takes place at multiple scales: household, national and international, and adaptive capacities are shaped through power and knowledge.

Germaine to the gender inequities is the unequal access to land-based resources. Women play a significant role in agriculture (Boserup 1989878; Darity 1980879) and rural economies globally (FAO 2011880), but are well below their share of labour in agriculture globally (FAO 2011). In 59% of 161 surveyed countries, customary, traditional and religious practices hinder women’s land rights (OECD 2014881). Moreover, women typically shoulder disproportionate responsibility for unpaid domestic work including care-giving activities (Beuchelt and Badstue 2013882) and the provision of water and firewood (UNEP 2016883). Exposure to violence restricts, in large regions, their mobility for capacity-building activities and productive work outside the home (Day et al. 2005884; UNEP 2016885). Large-scale development projects can erode rights, and lead to over-exploitation of natural resources. Hence, there are cases where reforms related to land-based management, instead of enhancing food security, have tended to increase the vulnerability of both women and men and reduce their ability to adapt to climate change (Pham et al. 2016886). Access to, and control over, land and land-based resources is essential in taking concrete action on land-based mitigation, and inadequate access can affect women’s rights and participation in land governance and management of productive assets.

Timely information, such as from early warning systems, is critical in managing risks, disasters, and land degradation, and in enabling land-based adaptation. Gender, household resources and social status, are all determinants that influence the adoption of land-based strategies (Theriault et al. 2017887). Climate change is not a lone driver in the marginalisation of women; their ability to respond swiftly to its impacts will depend on other socio-economic drivers that may help or hinder action towards adaptive governance. Empowering women and removing gender-based inequities constitutes a mechanism for greater participation in the adoption of sustainable practices of land management (Mello and Schmink 2017888). Improving women’s access to land (Arora-Jonsson 2014889) and other resources (water) and means of economic livelihoods (such as credit and finance) are the prerequisites to enable women to participate in governance and decision-making structures (Namubiru-Mwaura 2014890). Still, women are not a homogenous group, and distinctions through elements of ethnicity, class, age and social status, require a more nuanced approach and not a uniform treatment through vulnerability lenses only. An intersectional approach that accounts for various social identifiers under different situations of power (Rao 2017891) is considered suitable to integrate gender into climate change research and helps to recognise overlapping and interdependent systems of power (Djoudi et al. 2016892; Kaijser and Kronsell 2014893; Moosa and Tuana 2014894; Thompson-Hall et al. 2016895).

1.4.3

Policy instruments

Policy instruments enable governance actors to respond to environmental and societal challenges through policy action. Examples of the range of policy instruments available to public policymakers are discussed below based on four categories of instruments: (i) legal and regulatory instruments, (ii) rights-based instruments and customary norms, (iii) economic and financial instruments, and (iv) social and cultural instruments.

1.4.3.2

Economic and financial instruments

Economic (such as taxes, subsidies) and financial (weather-index insurance) instruments deal with the many ways in which public policy organisations can intervene in markets. A number of instruments are available to support climate mitigation actions including public provision, environmental regulations, creating property rights and markets (Sterner 2003896). Market-based policies such as carbon taxes, fuel taxes, cap and trade systems or green payments have been promoted (mostly in industrial economies) to encourage markets and businesses to contribute to climate mitigation, but their effectiveness to date has not always matched expectations (Grolleau et al. 2016897) (Section 7.4.4). Market-based instruments in ecosystem services generate both positive (incentives for conservation), but also negative environmental impacts, and also push food prices up or increase price instability (Gómez-Baggethun and Muradian 2015898; Farley and Voinov 2016899). Footprint labels can be an effective means of shifting consumer behaviour. However, private labels focusing on a single metric (e.g., carbon) may give misleading signals if they target a portion of the life cycle (e.g., transport) (Appleton 2009900) or ignore other ecological indicators (water, nutrients, biodiversity) (van Noordwijk and Brussaard 2014901).

Effective and durable, market-led responses for climate mitigation depend on business models that internalise the cost of emissions into economic calculations. Such ‘business transformation’ would itself require integrated policies and strategies that aim to account for emissions in economic activities (Biagini and Miller 2013902; Weitzman 2014903; Eidelwein et al. 2018904). International initiatives such as REDD+ and agricultural commodity roundtables (beef, soybeans, palm oil, sugar) are expanding the scope of private sector participation in climate mitigation (Nepstad et al. 2013905), but their impacts have not always been effective (Denis et al. 2014906). Payments for environmental services (PES) defined as “voluntary transactions between service users and service providers that are conditional on agreed rules of natural resource management for generating offsite services” (Wunder 2015907) have not been widely adopted and have not yet been demonstrated to deliver as effectively as originally hoped (Börner et al. 2017908) (Sections 7.4 and 7.5). PES in forestry were shown to be effective only when coupled with appropriate regulatory measures (Alix-Garcia and Wolff 2014909). Better designed and expanded PES schemes would encourage integrated soil–water–nutrient management packages (Stavi et al. 2016910), services for pollinator protection (Nicole 2015911), water use governance under scarcity, and engage both public and private actors (Loch et al. 2013912). Effective PES also requires better economic metrics to account for human- directed losses in terrestrial ecosystems and to food potential, and to address market failures or externalities unaccounted for in market valuation of ecosystem services.

Resilient strategies for climate adaptation can rely on the construction of markets through social networks as in the case of livestock systems (Denis et al. 2014913) or when market signals encourage adaptation through land markets or supply chain incentives for sustainable land management practices (Anderson et al. 2018914). Adequate policy (through regulations, investments in research and development or support to social capabilities) can support private initiatives for effective solutions to restore degraded lands (Reed and Stringer 2015915), or mitigate against risk and to avoid shifting risks to the public (Biagini and Miller 2013916). Governments, private business, and community groups could also partner to develop sustainable production codes (Chartres and Noble 2015917), and in co-managing land-based resources (Baker and Chapin 2018918), while public-private partnerships can be effective mechanisms in deploying infrastructure to cope with climatic events (floods) and for climate-indexed insurance (Kunreuther 2015919). Private initiatives that depend on trade for climate adaptation and mitigation require reliable trading systems that do not impede climate mitigation objectives (Elbehri et al. 2015920; Mathews 2017921).

1.4.3.3

Rights-based instruments and customary norms

Rights-based instruments and customary norms deal with the equitable and fair management of land resources for all people (IPBES 2018a922). These instruments emphasise the rights in particular of indigenous peoples and local communities, including for example, recognition of the rights embedded in the access to, and use of, common land. Common land includes situations without legal ownership (e.g., hunter-gathering communities in South America or Africa, and bushmeat), where the legal ownership is distinct from usage rights (Mediterranean transhumance grazing systems), or mixed ownership-common grazing systems (e.g., crofting in Scotland). A lack of formal (legal) ownership has often led to the loss of access rights to land, where these rights were also not formally enshrined in law, which especially effects indigenous communities, for example, deforestation in the Amazon basin. Overcoming the constraints associated with common-pool resources (forestry, fisheries, water) are often of economic and institutional nature (Hinkel et al. 2014923) and require tackling the absence or poor functioning of institutions and the structural constraints that they engender through access and control levers using policies and markets and other mechanisms (Schut et al. 2016924). Other examples of rights-based instruments include the protection of heritage sites, sacred sites and peace parks (IPBES 2018a925). Rights-based instruments and customary norms are consistent with the aims of international and national human rights, and the critical issue of liability in the climate change problem.

1.4.3.4

Social and cultural norms

Social and cultural instruments are concerned with the communication of knowledge about conscious consumption patterns and resource-effective ways of life through awareness raising, education and communication of the quality and the provenance of land-based products. Examples of the latter include consumption choices aided by ecolabelling (Section 1.4.3.2) and certification. Cultural indicators (such as social capital, cooperation, gender equity, women’s knowledge, socio-ecological mobility) contribute to the resilience of social-ecological systems (Sterling et al. 2017926). Indigenous communities (such as the Inuit and Tsleil Waututh Nation in Canada) that continue to maintain traditional foods exhibit greater dietary quality and adequacy (Sheehy et al. 2015927). Social and cultural instruments also include approaches to self-regulation and voluntary agreements, especially with respect to environmental management and land resource use. This is becoming especially irrelevant for the increasingly important domain of corporate social responsibility (Halkos and Skouloudis 2016928).

1.5

The interdisciplinary nature of the SRCCL

Assessing the land system in view of the multiple challenges that are covered by the SRCCL requires a broad, inter-disciplinary perspective. Methods, core concepts and definitions are used differently in different sectors, geographic regions, and across academic communities addressing land systems, and these concepts and approaches to research are also undergoing a change in their interpretation through time. These differences reflect varying perspectives, in nuances or emphasis, on land as components of the climate and socio-economic systems. Because of its inter-disciplinary nature, the SRCCL can take advantage of these varying perspectives and the diverse methods that accompany them. That way, the report aims to support decision- makers across sectors and world regions in the interpretation of its main findings and support the implementation of solutions.

Footnotes

  1. Different communities have a different understanding of the concept of pathways (IPCC 2018). Here, we refer to pathways as a description of the time-dependent actions required to move from today’s world to a set of future visions (IPCC 2018). However, the term pathways is commonly used in the climate change literature as a synonym for projections or trajectories (e.g., shared socio-economic pathways).
  2. Uncertainty here is defined as the coefficient of variation CV. In the case of micrometeorological fluxes they refer to random errors and CV of daily average.
  3. >100 for fluxes less than 5 gN2O-N ha–1 d–1.

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Land–Climate interactions