Meeting summary: Global Land Programme Open Science Meeting

Terraced rice paddies in China. Photo: Alexandre Bourdeau via Flickr
A recent meeting of the Global Land Programme (GLP) stressed the role of land use as a sustainability solution.

The Global Land Programme (GLP), one of Future Earth’s global research projects, convened its bi-annual open science meeting in Beijing, China. The meeting was hosted by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS). In response to the recently endorsed United Nations Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals, the conference theme was “Land system science: understanding realities and developing solutions.”

Almost 700 participants discussed social-ecological interactions around land use in an interdisciplinary manner and at different levels of scale. Clear evidence emerged that land uses, such as food production, forestry or pasture land, are seeing fierce competition, with land claims emerging from new sectors, higher levels and distant places: land-based climate mitigation, industrial food production triggered by rapidly changing diets, ecosystem services demanded by urban centres, etc.  As a consequence, implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals may translate into competing claims on scarce land resources. The conference also stressed that research pointed to emerging opportunities for land-based innovations and co-design of sustainable land systems may play a strong role in alleviating these competing claims and assist in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

The meeting confirmed the importance of interdisciplinary and multi-level perspectives on land use as a core component of solving trade-offs and developing sustainable development pathways. The Global Land Programme will undertake to strengthen its transformative potentials by intensifying its competencies in co-production of knowledge and establishing science policy interfaces with non-academic partners at national and international levels.