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"Find Ways of Harnessing the Increasing Interest in land for Sustainable Development" Lennart Olsson reflects ahead of seminar on land

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LUCSUS Professor Lennart Olsson is one of the participants in the upcoming seminar: Land: a Common Good, or a Good Investment? organised 9th November by LUCSUS, Latinamerikagrupperna, Svalorna Indien Bangladesh and Lund Inter Faculty Sustainability Network.

Ahead of his participation, he discusses the most important issues surrounding land today, and reflects on why land is such a political subject. 

What are the most important issues surrounding land today?

There are many issues at various scales. Locally, but around the world, many communities risk losing access to their land due to increasing pressure from external forces. Land has become a new scarce resource for producing food and energy, but also for protecting biodiversity. Many communities around the world lack legal recognition of their rights to land. 

Globally, land degradation, i.e. loss of productivity of the land, is a big problem but the scientific knowledge about the trends and status of the land is poor. Soil is one of the most critical resources for the habitability of the planet, yet our knowledge of it is archaic.

A very good step forward is that IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, decided to commission a special report on Climate Change and Land. It will hopefully fill some knowledge gaps but more importantly, highlight the need for more attention to land and soil resources. 

What do you think are the most urgent challenges?

Protect some of the most critical cases where livelihoods and land resources are threatened by aggressive investments. Find ways of harnessing the increasing interest in land for sustainable development of land resources and the dependent livelihoods. 

Why is land such a political issue?

Because the potential profits as scarcity increase in combination with the notoriously poor legal recognition of land rights around the world, including the Sápmi who lives in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

Where will tensions about land play out in the future?

Everywhere where there is a potential for profits (e.g. for mining, food production, energy production, tourism) and poor recognition of rights. 

Are there any particular points you will raise in the debate?

Geography matters, but geography is too important to be left to the geographers only. 
 

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