More sustainability in global land use


World Soil Day on 5th December sends an important signal for the significance of this resource. In order to use soil sustainably in future, there needs to be new ideas and international rules.The pressure on land and soil is increasing worldwide, entailing serious consequences for biodiversity, the climate, water management and world hunger, even the destruction of the basis of many people’s existence.

With the aim of identifying the key policy approaches to ensuring sustainable land use, Oeko-Institut and Ecologic Institute have produced a discussion paper – “Governance Screening of Sustainable Land Use” – which examines more than 120 existing international and multilateral agreements as well as policies and analyses what impact these have on sustainable land use.

There is no international convention of sustainable land use

The discussion paper notably shows that many international policies have, directly or indirectly, a negative impact on sustainable land use, but there has not been an overarching, international agreement on sustainable use of soil and land to date. There are also no coordinating mechanisms between the most relevant international conventions with regard to land use. Furthermore – as the project also found – key drivers of land use like population growth, globally increasing consumption, energy demand and the proliferation of Western diets are currently not being effectively addressed by international policy.

The spectrum of sectors and policies analysed in the project ranges from agriculture and forestry to nature conservation and climate policy up to developmental policy, and trade and investment policy. In this way our approach takes into account the fact that land use is influenced by different sectors and global policies – often, however, without sustainability being a focus. In addition to the exami-nation of international policies, 10 case studies of land use governance (in Brazil, Bolivia, India, Cuba, Kenya, Niger, Burkina Faso and Germany, Belgium and Australia) were analysed in more detail.

Recommendations to policy-maker

The discussion paper was written within the scope of the four-year “Globalands” project ( under the project leadership of IINAS. The goal of the project is formulate recommendations for (policy and other) decision-makers for sustainable global land use and to discuss international approaches to sustainable land use in workshops with experts from national and international policy, research and civil society. The consortium of this project, which is being funded by the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA), consists of 5 research institutes. The currently available results of the project were recently presented at the Global Soil Week convention  (27-31 October 2013, Berlin).

Further information

Discussion paper “Governance Screening of Sustainable Land Use” 

Further information on the Globalands project is available on the project website

Contact at Oeko-Institut

Franziska Wolff
Deputy Head of Environmental Law & Governance Division
Oeko-Institut e.V., Berlin office
Phone: +49 30 -14050 - 371