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COP15: Global GDP could gain $140 trillion a year, if we achieve the objectives of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification



The global economy could grow by more than $140 trillion a year[1]or 1.5 times annual global GDP, if the goals of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) are achieved, participants heard during a side event at the 15th UNCCD summit.

Camilla Nordheim-Larsen, Senior Coordinator for Partnerships and Resource Mobilization at the UN Convention, noted that action in the land sector has the potential to generate up to $140 billion a year and create 400 million new jobs, while that inaction may result in losses in the range of $44 billion. The Sustainable Development Goal for Life on Earth receives less funding but can contribute more to resilience, she said, speaking at an event on innovative financing mechanisms for sustainable landscapes, organized by the African Development Bank and its partners.

The cost of taking action may seem enormous, but governments could pay an even higher price if they do nothing. “The benefits of taking action against land degradation greatly outweigh the costs of sustainable landscape management. In sub-Saharan Africa, it is at least seven times[2]! Inaction costs sub-Saharan countries $490 billion a year, while according to the Land Degradation Economics Initiative, action to reverse land degradation could generate benefits worth up to $1.4 billions of dollars,” said Luc Gnacadja, former executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. and former Minister of the Environment of Benin, currently co-chair of the Executive Committee of the Adaptation Benefits Mechanism.

Rishabh Khanna, Director of Impact at Earthbanc and member of the steering committee of the Land, Lives and Peace Initiative, presented at the summit a new initiative launched in conjunction with the United Nations Convention: digital sustainable land bonds, which allow carbon buyers buy at a price earlier stage of development. “Financing for land and ecosystem restoration accounts for less than 1% of all climate finance due to the lack of universal capital market products for these activities. Part of the reason is that monitoring, reporting, and verification of sustainable land management have been labor-intensive, sometimes inaccurate, and use fragmented measurement and accounting methodologies.”

The Adaptation Benefits Mechanism, piloted by the African Development Bank between 2019 and 2023, certifies and monetizes the environmental, social and economic benefits of adaptation actions, including for sustainable and resilient landscapes. “Unlike mitigation, where profitability is the driving factor for investments, revenues from the monetization of adaptation benefits are likely to go towards actions in vulnerable communities that are most needed, because they provide compelling stories” explained Gareth Philips, Climate and Environmental Finance Manager at the African Development Bank.

Dr. Peter Minang, Africa Director of the International Center for Agroforestry and Global Coordinator of the ASB Association for Tropical Forest Fringes, envisioned the innovative role that sustainable agroforestry measures and better enabling environments can play in empowering local communities. through a video case study on financing. sustainable community forest enterprises in Cameroon. “We are the first organization to pilot the Adaptation Benefits Mechanism through a project in the cocoa sector in Côte d’Ivoire. In Cameroon, we are using a similar approach and more concrete steps have already been taken to allow certification in the near future that can generate new funding for the development of sustainable and resilient agroforestry systems for local communities. One of our best practices is the use of portable machines to monitor all the indicators, which we could verify once a year, for example, with Earthbanc’s satellite and remote sensing technology,” he said.

[1] Speech by the Deputy Secretary General at the Meeting of Heads of State at the UNCCD COP15. Available online

[2] Global Land Outlook 2022, page 5. Available online at:

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