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Integrated planning and management of land resources is the subject of chapter 10 of Agenda 21, which deals with the cross-sectoral aspects of decision-making for the sustainable use and development of natural resources, including the soils, minerals, water and biota that land comprises. This broad integrative view of land resources, which are essential for life-support systems and the productive capacity of the environment, is the basis of Agenda 21's and the Commission on Sustainable Development's consideration of land issues.

Expanding human requirements and economic activities are placing ever increasing pressures on land resources, creating competition and conflicts and resulting in suboptimal use of
resources. By examining all uses of land in an integrated manner, it makes it possible to minimize conflicts, to make the most efficient trade-offs and to link social and economic development with environmental protection and enhancement, thus helping to achieve the objectives of sustainable development. (Agenda 21, para 10.1) The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is the task manager for chapter 10 of Agenda 21.

Land is included as one of the thematic areas along with agriculture, rural development, drought, desertification and Africa in the third implementation cycle CSD 16/17.

The sectoral cluster of land, desertification, forests and biodiversity, as well as mountains (chapters 10-13 and 15 of Agenda 21) were considered by CSD-3 in 1995 and again at the five-year review in1997. In accordance with its multi-year programme of work, CSD-8 in 2000 reviewed integrated planning and management of land resources as its sectoral theme. Many of the issues addressed are also linked to the focus at CSD-8 on agriculture as an economic sector, and the documentation prepared for the session for agriculture is also relevant to the land item.

In its decision 8/3 on integrated planning and management of land resources, the Commission on Sustainable Development noted the importance of addressing sustainable development through a holistic approach, such as ecosystem management, in order to meet the priority challenges of desertification and drought, sustainable mountain development, prevention and mitigation of land degradation, coastal zones, deforestation, climate change, rural and urban land use, urban growth and conservation of biological diversity. Such an approach should take into consideration the livelihood opportunities of people living in poverty in rural areas.

The Commission identified six priorities for future work, including:

  • prevention and/or mitigation of land degradation;
  • access to land and security of tenure;
  • critical sectors and issues (such as biodiversity, drylands, rehabilitation of mining areas, wetlands and coastal zones, coral reefs, natural disasters, and rural-urban and land management interactions);
  • access to information and stakeholder participation;
  • international cooperation, including that for capacity-building, information-sharing, and technology transfer; and
  • minerals, metals and rehabilitation of land degraded by mining in the context of sustainable development.

Governments were urged to support the implementation of a number of important international agreements, including the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol, and the Habitat Agenda adopted by the UN Conference on Human Settlements in 1996.

See also website information under Agriculture Rural Development, "Desertification and Drought" and "Freshwater".



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April 2008