UNCCD CoP 14: Report on Soil Organic Carbon released

News: The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)’s Committee on Science and Technology (CST) has released its report on Soil Organic Carbon titled “Realising the Carbon Benefits of Sustainable Land Management Practices: Guidelines for Estimation of Soil Organic Carbon in the Context of Land Degradation Neutrality Planning and Monitoring”.


  • The report emphasises the importance of SOC in preventing land degradation and desertification. It also provides guidelines to help countries identify suitable locally-relevant sustainable land management practices to maintain or enhance SOC
  • Soil Organic carbon (SOC):
    • It is defined as the soil material of living origin (e.g. plants, microbes, soil biota) at varying stages of decomposition.
    • It acts as a key resource for energy and nutrients, and affects many soil properties such as hydrology, structure, and habitat.
    • It is the largest carbon pool in the terrestrial biosphere
  • Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN)
    • It is defined as a state where the amount and quality of land resources necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems
    • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 15.3 envisions to combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world by 2030.
    • There are three global indicators for LDN: 1) Land cover (land cover change); 2) Land productivity (net primary productivity); 3) Carbon stocks (soil organic carbon,)
    • India’s target for LDN is 30 million hectares by 2030.

Additional Information:


  • The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. It was established in 1994. It has 197 parties.
  • UNCCD seeks to work towards maintaining and restoring land and soil productivity and mitigating the effects of drought.
  • India for the first time is hosting the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP-14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

Land Degradation and Desertification

  • Land degradation is any reduction or loss in the biological or economic productive capacity of the land resource base
  • Desertification is the process of ecological degradation by which economically productive land becomes less productive. In some cases it may lead to the development of a desert-like landscape.