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Session Overview
104RB: Roads to sustainability: Land use within sustainable development goals and planetary boundaries - Part B
Friday, 26/Apr/2019:
3:00pm - 4:15pm

Session Chair: Benjamin Stuch
Session Chair: Holger Hoff
Session Chair: Patrick Hostert
Location: UniS-A 003
UniS Building, Auditorium A 003, ground floor, 178 seats + 54 seats on gallery on first floor
Session Topics:
What are the visions for the planetary land system?

Session Abstract

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires large effort and transformative change in socio-ecological systems. In this regard, changes in land use systems are highly relevant because land use--directly and indirectly--relates to a number of SDGs – ranging from Zero Hunger and Clean Water, over Responsible Consumption and Production, to Climate Action or Life on Land. Since SDGs are universal and require integrated implementation, their local and national implementation must account for (i) international and global effects and (ii) trade-offs and synergies between the often conflicting individual goals. This session deals with the complex interplay between socio-economic transformation processes, land use change, environmental limits and the achievement of SDGs. Emphasis lies on systems analysis to identify synergies and trade-offs of available land management and governance options as well as on transformative land use pathways with respect to achieving different sustainability targets. Presenters are encouraged to address the externalization of land-related costs and benefits across regions (teleconnections and telecoupling) and related common but differentiated responsibilities in land use. We invite contributions that help to evaluate and compare different scientific approaches, methods, tools, indicators and data, suited to derive conclusions for integrated land management and nested multi-level land governance and policy coherence. Presenters are encouraged to present the drivers of change, socio-environmental consequences, and potential response strategies in a structured causal-effect relationship. Organizers: Benjamin Stuch; Holger Hoff; Patrick Hostert

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Full talk
ID: 822 / 104RB: 1
104R Roads to sustainability: Land use within sustainable development goals and planetary boundaries
Keywords: water, tele-connections, SDG, sustainability, Africa

Who changes the rain? Linking the social-ecological dynamics of land-use change, atmospheric water recycling, and pastoralist behavior

Patrick W Keys

Colorado State University, United States of America

Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is targeted for the year 2030, some 12 years from now. Among the SDGs, the most fundamental goals for overall success are the goals related to water, and this success will ultimately depend on how humanity manages their land and water. Recent findings show the significant impact that human land-use change can have on moisture recycling - the process of water evaporating from land, traveling through the atmosphere, then falling back to Earth as precipitation. This insight, combined with advances in understanding behavioral drivers of land-use change in East African pastoralist systems, offers a unique opportunity to examine how human behavior, land-use, and moisture recycling may couple to enable (or hinder) SDG achievement. Notably, in East Africa’s forests and woody savannas, forest management often overlaps directly with rangeland management, and when considering ecological conservation, it is equally important to consider the societies that dwell in these landscapes.

We develop an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the complex interplay of water across scales. Scenarios of SDG#15 achievement for East African countries are simulated in a land-use model (G-Range), and the coincident changes in evaporation (and subsequently the atmospheric water cycle) are simulated via a moisture tracking model (WAM-2layers). These changes to the atmospheric water cycle further drive changes in downwind rangeland systems and drive subsequent human decision-making (using a modified agent-based model, DECUMA) that depend on those rangelands.

The output is a first-of-its-kind coupled-modeling system linking national land-use policy to eventual community adaptations via regional-scale moisture recycling, revealing nested, multi-level issues related to land-use and atmospheric tele-connections. We will present preliminary results from our model coupling, share insights into engagement and co-development of research goals with East African stakeholders, and conclude with a discussion of lessons-learned (so far) regarding engagement with the broader SDG agenda.

Full talk
ID: 626 / 104RB: 2
104R Roads to sustainability: Land use within sustainable development goals and planetary boundaries
Keywords: planetary boundaries, land system change, sensitivity, remote sensing

Quantifying a planetary land systems boundary

Patrick Hostert1, Matthias Baumann1, Dieter Gerten1,2, Tobias Kuemmerle1, Sebastian van der Linden1, Wolfgang Lucht1,2, Philippe Rufin1

1Humboldt University Berlin, Germany; 2Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

The current planetary boundary for land system change is defined as the (biome-specific) area of forest loss that, if exceeded, may represent a risk for Earth system destabilization. This provisional “aggregate” boundary definition lacks linkages to boundaries/thresholds that are likely to exist at regional scale and that may already be operational.

We accordingly focus on sensitivity analyses related to different aspects of land systems boundary quantifications:

a) The baseline definition of “original” forest is a critical step. Depending on different assumptions concerning the pre-industrial state of the global land system, we show how margins towards critical thresholds vary. This may critically affect the option space related to a boundary for land system change.

b) Data-related sensitivity should be taken into account and a better understanding of different uncertainties related to datasets and methods is imperative. We show how different e.g. remote sensing based datasets influence the outcome of calculations for a boundary related to land system change.

c) Control variable sensitivity (currently forest cover loss per forest biome) is similarly critical. Multiple control variables may be needed to embrace the complexity of land systems. We show examples on how to move from forest loss (areal land cover change) as single control variable to rather holistic quantifications including proxies for land use intensity and land management.

Beyond quantification, we believe that land systems boundaries shall be met at eco-regional or even national scales. Aggregation may therefore only be feasible in a nested approach, not allowing “trading in” improvements in one region against deteriorating conditions elsewhere. We argue that finer-scale measures from different world regions may be needed, including for example savannah woodlands.

The proposed sensitivity analyses refer to knowledge gaps that we also need to address in the light of transdisciplinary approaches. Implications for e.g. food security, public health, or improving local livelihoods, among others, will be of utmost importance, If we wish to relate a planetary boundary on land system change to a social-ecological systems perspective.

Full talk
ID: 715 / 104RB: 3
104R Roads to sustainability: Land use within sustainable development goals and planetary boundaries
Keywords: Land-system boundary, downscale planetary boundary, country level analysis, global trade, consumption impacts

National land-use performance based on downscaled planetary boundaries

Mohammad Abdullah Shaikh, Michalis Hadjikakou, Brett Bryan

Deakin University, Australia

Population and economic growth have placed enormous pressure on Earth’s natural resources. Land resources have been exploited by agricultural intensification, deforestation, and urbanisation. Increasing international trade of food, fibre, timber, bio-fuels and other products have put immense pressure on land-systems. We downscaled the land-system planetary boundary (PB) and allocated a safe operating space for every country. We accounted for a fair and rational distribution of the global boundary by considering socio-economic and environmental factors and assigned limits to countries based on population, fair economic equity and available land resources. We assessed country level direct and virtual (indirect) impacts on the land-system change PB resulting from global consumption of goods and services traded across international supply chains. We analysed country level impacts on agricultural land and forests against their allocated safe operating space for land-system change and calculated their PB exceedances, accounting also for uncertainty in the current definition of the land-system change PB. We used a global multi-regional input-output analysis to identify the amount of direct and indirect (trade-adjusted) impacts of countries and quantify the interdependencies between countries with regard to land resources. We also analysed how countries performance can vary, based on different downscaling techniques and underlying PB uncertainty. Our results show land-use PB transgressions at a country level over time and highlight countries which are using more land resources than their allocated share within safe global limits. This work provides insights into the pressures on global land resources by quantifying total land-system change impacts associated with final consumption of goods and services.

Full talk
ID: 536 / 104RB: 4
104R Roads to sustainability: Land use within sustainable development goals and planetary boundaries
Keywords: impact assessment, trade, deforestation, soybean, LCA

Unlocking product-level life cycle assessments for SDG12 with high-resolution land use and trade information

Michael Lathuillière1, Javier Godar1, Pernilla Lofgren1, Ben Ayre2, Toby Gardner1, Clément Suavet3

1Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden; 2Global Canopy, UK; 3Stockholm Environment Institute, USA

Meeting Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG12) to “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns” requires analytical tools to connect production and consumption centres at scales that are relevant for decision-makers. From a product perspective, life cycle thinking can be used to map a product’s life cycle from resource use to disposal (so-called “cradle to grave”) as the basis for a life cycle assessment (LCA). LCAs guide decisions that can reduce impacts of production and consumption through an environmental impact assessment of the different stages of a product’s life cycle. Since 2013, these assessments can include land use and land use change in a framework established to quantify impacts to biodiversity and ecosystem services. Current applications, however, often suffer from the lack of high-resolution land use information. In this study, we show how spatially-explicit mapping of supply chains based on high resolution trade and production data (see Trase, can provide information on land use and land use change for applications in LCAs. We produce multitemporal analysis of deforestation using a high-resolution depiction of the Brazilian soybean supply chain, revealing not only the importance of a country’s “supply mix” for accurately assessing environmental impacts embedded in consumption, but also the role of traders in meeting global demand. Our results provide additional tools for addressing SDG12 from a product perspective by considering both traders and consumer countries, while enabling more accurate LCAs for European Product Environmental Footprint and Organisation Environmental Footprint guidelines.

Flash talk
ID: 565 / 104RB: 5
104R Roads to sustainability: Land use within sustainable development goals and planetary boundaries
Keywords: Water Harvesting, Food Security, Out-Scaling, Case Studies, Suitability Analysis

Mapping the potential of water harvesting to increase food security at global scale

Luigi Piemontese1, Giulio Castelli2, Ingo Fetzer1, Nicole Harai3, Hanspeter Liniger3, Jennie Barron4, Elena Bresci2, Fernando Jaramillo1,5

1Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden; 2Department of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Systems (GESAAF), University of Florence, Italy; 3Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern, Switzerland; 4Department of Soil and Environment, SLU, Sweden; 5Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, Sweden

Agriculture has a dominant role in achieving the Sustainable Development goals, whit the double challenge of increasing food security while preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems. Water harvesting (WH) is a well-known practice that can provide supplemental irrigation, increasing water productivity thus contributing to sustainable intensification of agriculture. Some studies have shown the potential of WH to close the yield gap, thus potentially reduce food insecurity at local and global scale. However, these top down studies tend to overestimate the benefits of WH because they mostly neglect the effect of socio-economic and cultural barriers in the success of the adoption of such practice. Local case studies provide a more contextual and realistic picture of the actual benefit of WH and learning from case studies would provide a more accurate estimation of the potential increase in food security through sustainable water management practices. Using a bottom-up approach we out-scale the benefit observed in 240 local case studies on different water harvesting techniques across a wide range of agro-climatic and socio-economic regions globally.We first identify suitable areas of water harvesting using the combination of environmental information (precipitation amount and seasonality, aridity and slope) and socio-economic parameters (access to market and financial services, farm size and labor capacity) relevant for the successful implementation of WH. Finally, we use the qualitative survey data (interviews of farmers) of the case study to attribute the potential increase in food security based on the suitability analysis, the water-limited yield gap and current global food insecurity patterns.

This study can serve as a baseline to understand and further explore the potential of water harvesting as a sustainable driver of agricultural improvement at global scale. We also consider this work a first necessary step to trigger future modelling studies and build scenarios of sustainable intensification of agriculture within the planetary safe operating space.

Flash talk
ID: 834 / 104RB: 6
104R Roads to sustainability: Land use within sustainable development goals and planetary boundaries
Keywords: Urbanisation, SDG 11, SDG 15, path dependency

Perspectives on land explicit metrics for SDG indicators, the case of SDG 15 and SDG 11

Michele Melchiorri1, Christina Corban2, Aneta J. Florczyk2, Martino Pesaresi2, Ehlrich Daniele2

1Piksel S.r.l, Italy; 2European Commission DG Joint Research Centre Disaster Risk Management Unit

Land degradation due to anthropogenic pressures affects sizable parts of the planet Earth landmass. The monitoring of this phenomenon has entered in the 2030 Development Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Earth Observations provide valuable information to quantify the extent of degraded land, especially the one transformed into sealed surfaces. The extraction of human settlements and urban extent from remote sensing is a field of research capable to support the SDG monitoring with key information to lift several SDGs from Tier II to Tier I classification, implying the supply of data to operationalize internationally agreed methodologies.

In this contribution, we focus on the interplay between SDG 15.3.1 (Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area) and SDG 11.3.1 (Ratio of land consumption rate to population growth rate).

We principally highlight that despite SDG 11.3.1 relates the expansion of built-up areas to demographic changes, the dimensionless values it outputs neglect considerable spatially explicit implications. In particular, while the SDG framework on the one-hand reaffirms the key role of land degradation (throughout SDG 15) SDG 11 is unable to make the nexus between demographic change and land consumption explicit (by mathematical formulation). Empirical results of this study carried with the Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL) open and free data to quantify the global extent of urban centers and their population in 2000 and 2015 demonstrate that the marginal land consumption per new inhabitant is considerably diverse across settlements that develop with comparable Land Use Efficiency values.

This research is innovative for the use if the “built-up areas” semantic derived from remote sensing, to establish a land based nexus between the two SDGs and for the implications of the findings suggesting a differentiated treatment of the same natural resource across SDGs.

Flash talk
ID: 808 / 104RB: 7
110R Multi-objective optimization approaches to support visioning and decision-making in land-use system science
Keywords: system perspective, integration amongst sectors, carbon neutrality, societal transformation

An application of the S-loop model to identify potential pathways towards sustainability in Irish land use

Tamara Hochstrasser

University College Dublin, Ireland

Depending on the approach to land use and management, land use offers opportunities for the conservation and restoration of natural capital and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In Ireland, over 30% of the national greenhouse gas emissions are from agriculture. These emissions need to be drastically reduced and it is envisaged that carbon neutrality will be reached by mid-century amongst all land use activities. However, this required land use and management change must be seen in the context of other demands placed on land use. In this project the S-loop model, which is a learning model for sustainability, was used. This model guides the integration of current knowledge on sustainability goals across sectors, the activities, which must change and the system within which the change has to occur. Using expert interviews, a complete description of factors influencing Irish land use was attempted as well as information on activities gathered. I will present this overview over the factors that affect land use in Ireland currently. The interviews revealed that there are two ways of framing the factors amongst experts: one of them is the ‘landscape perspective’, i.e. the perception of a spatial juxtaposition or overlap of different interests in terms of their claims to using land, the second one is the ‘agricultural value chain’ perspective, where it is essential that the different sectors develop in a coordinated manner. For the ongoing dialogue on how to best transform Irish land use towards sustainability, which includes the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, it is important to recognize these different perspectives and assure that critical factors as identified in this project are not left out from any proposed solutions. Furthermore, the S-loop model was used to identify knowledge gaps and to produce research recommendations for the Environmental Protection Agency’s research programme.

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