The vision of LDN (SDG 15.3) is keeping land in balance in order to ensure food security, healthy ecosystems and human wellbeing. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the custodian agency of the LDN indicator, and the scientific community of the UNCCD developed a methodology and indicators to track progress towards LDN at a national level. This methodology was, however, not yet readily applicable to investments.
The LDN TAF therefore supported the LDN Fund in developing a methodology (download publication here) for measuring and tracking progress on LDN impact at investment project level, directly tied to SDG target 15.3. This was done by partnering with Conservation International and their Trends.Earth platform, and GlobalGeoHub, in close consultation with the UNCCD scientific community. Building on the UNCCD’s LDN Scientific Conceptual Framework, the methodology looks at three sub-indicators: land cover, land productivity (measured as net primary productivity), and carbon stock (measured as soil organic carbon, SOC). Based on a one-out-all-out principle, a positive overall change indicates land increasing in productivity and health, and land degradation being reversed. Most indicators are measured using remotely sensed satellite imagery, complemented for selected cases by field-level soil sampling.
The LDN TAF supports investees of the LDN Fund in setting an LDN baseline using this methodology, while building capacity with project developers to integrate continuous monitoring of LDN into their operations, and (if relevant) aligning this work with national government target-setting units. This not only allows companies to report on progress and comply with environmental and social action plans. It also enables them to practice adaptive management, and, where possible, optimizing positive environmental, social and financial returns resulting from restoring land.