Catalysing SDG Implementation through a Soil and Land Review

22-24 May, Scandic Hotel, Berlin

Rationale

Managing integration. Achieving sustainable development according to the 2030 Agenda in all countries of the world is a challenge and at the same time a once in a generation opportunity. Addressing the multiple linkages between the different SDGs and across countries requires novel and innovative ways to navigate the complexity of the agenda. Additionally, it is necessary to ensure that national activities do not jeopardize achievements at the global level. This is a task for follow-up and review processes on the 2030 Agenda which, when well-designed, can make thematic and cross- country linkages visible to support national level implementation.

Supporting the principles of the 2030 Agenda. Ensuring that no one is left behind requires that stakeholders are engaged at all levels in the process of setting national priorities. It has been agreed in Resolution A/ Res/70/1 that follow-up and review processes should be open, inclusive and participatory. However, in many contexts, the space for civil society to operate is limited and citizens’ voices are not heard. Review processes at the global level can support national processes to ensure that the principles of the 2030 Agenda are upheld. Inclusion requires integrating different perspectives, different forms of data and other forms of knowledge on issues covered by the SDGs.

Thematic reviews – the need to navigate complexity. By looking at a sub-set of goals from within a specific theme, thematic reviews under the HLPF provide a tool for an integrated implementation of the SDGs. They can provide ideas for cross-thematic collaboration and cooperation between UN agencies, scientific institutions and civil society, and most importantly, between citizens and their governments. HLPF 2016 represents a milestone in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda. Yet, scope for further improvement remains: the degree of participation of stakeholders and the time for actual exchange and debate was criticised. The question is how to achieve this improvement in the limited time frame allocated to the HLPF?

The implementation of the 2030 Agenda depends on a range of actors – we make use of their insights for the HLPF. The 2030 Agenda sets clear that its implementation rests on contributions by all stakeholders. In his review of the High-Level Political Forum 2016, then ECOSOC president Oh Joon, lists “voluntary efforts by the scientific community to produce science-based thematic reviews for the HLPF“ as a contribution by the science community to the science-policy interface at the HLPF. The GSW 2017 will be such a contribution. We are convinced, though, that science is but one source of knowledge in support of the SDGs, and this GSW will bring together various stakeholders to contribute different forms of knowledge and expertise.

Soils and land for a transformational 2030 Agenda – more than just making a case for our lens. Soils and land provide the basis for more than 95% of the food produced in the world and support the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and agricultural workers (in some places, as much as 70% of them are women). Due to global demographic changes, cropland per capita has fallen by more than half since 1960. Land tenure regimes that marginalize certain population groups exacerbate this scarcity. Soils are also in jeopardy. Their pollution has direct impacts on our health and other ecosystems such as the oceans. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of the world’s land area is affected by degradation, thereby negatively influencing the livelihoods of 1.5 billion people worldwide. For example, soil and land degradation, and poor soil fertility in particular, is widely accepted as the most critical factor in limiting agricultural production in Sub-Saharan Africa. As such, soil and land resources are key to achieving several of the SDGs. They are implicit in several of the goals, which is a feature that they share with other natural resources like forests or biodiversity. Piloting a preparatory event to the HLPF 2017 that focuses on soil and land will therefore also yield insights into follow-up and review methodologies for the 2030 Agenda in general and for other natural resources in particular.

OUTCOMES

Together with our partners and participants we will work on different ways to capture the insights generated at the Global Soil Week. While these will be defined and elaborated over the coming weeks, two specific products that we are targeting are:

  1. a set of policy messages on sustainable soil management and responsible land governance for “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”; and,
  2. a report to reflect on the review and knowledge exchange and communication methodologies applied at the GSW 2017.