Climate change, land degradation, and biodiversity loss are among our time’s most pressing planetary crises and a threat to life on Earth and human wellbeing. These crises are deeply interwoven and mutually reinforcing: climate change is a principal driver of land degradation and biodiversity loss, while land degradation and biodiversity loss further accelerate climate change.
Water plays a central role in the climate-biodiversity-land degradation crisis, simultaneously being part of the challenge and the solution. With an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather and climate events, more intense rainfall can exacerbate soil erosion and result in greater peak flows and increased flood risk, jeopardizing water and food security and constraining adaptive capacity to climate change. Concurrent increases in the frequency and severity of meteorological droughts can further exacerbate water security and land degradation.
Land and climate are tightly coupled through complex two-way interactions across temporal and spatial scales, as depicted in the figures below. Climate change and land degradation act as threat multipliers, with mutually reinforcing positive feedback between land degradation and climate change leading to an accelerated downward spiral.