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The Land Battle for Sustainable Development

As officials gather in Addis Ababa this week to identify the best ways to secure the resources needed to maintain the health of our planet and boost its inhabitants’ wellbeing, they would be wise to look down. Improved land management holds huge, largely untapped potential in the effort to achieve sustainable development.

BONN – As high-level political representatives gather in Addis Ababa this week for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, there are reasons to be optimistic about the fight against climate change and the pursuit of sustainable development. Investments in renewable energies have topped $270 billion a year, and clean sources of power, like the sun and the wind, represent a rising share of the world’s energy production. Meanwhile, sectors such as transportation, urban planning, and construction are undergoing root-and-branch change in terms of energy efficiency and conservation.

The significance of these advances cannot be overstated; but they must be accompanied by a fundamental change in our relationship with the natural world. After all, nature has perfected methods that capture and store carbon safely and cost-effectively, while yielding a wide range of additional benefits to humanity.

That is why, as officials gather in Ethiopia to identify the best ways to secure the resources needed to maintain the health of our planet and boost the wellbeing of its inhabitants, they would be wise to look down. The land beneath our feet holds huge, largely untapped potential for rapid gains in both the fight against climate change and efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, which the international community is expected to adopt later this year.

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