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LUCSUS Professor Lennart Olsson Appointed Coordinating Lead Author in Special IPCC Report

Land degradation.

Lennart Olsson, professor at LUCSUS, has been appointed Coordinating Lead Author (CLA) for the chapter on land degradation in a special IPCC report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) about Climate Change and Land.

He is one of 104 researchers selected by the IPCC to take part in the work with the report - which will be completed in 2019. In total, the IPCC received 640 nominations from member countries for various posts such as Coordinating Lead Author, Lead Author and Review Editor.

In this short interview, Lennart Olsson reflects on his recent appointment.

Why do you think you got selected as CLA?

I served as CLA in the previous IPCC assessment (AR5) which means I have some experience to lead such a complex undertaking.

And, I actually suggested to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in 2014 that they should commission a joint report with the IPCC and facilitate communication between UNCCD and IPCC Working Group II. And finally, we have a lot of expertise on land degradation at LUCSUS with several recent publications (by e.g. Elina Andersson, Sara Brogaard, Lennart Olsson, Genesis Yengoh).

What does the work imply?

A lot of extra unpaid work – but also a lot of fun!!

Tell us about the process?

During these two years we will do a systematic review and assessment of all the relevant science linking climate change and land degradation – probably many thousands of scientific articles. Our work will be very carefully scrutinised by the international scientific community in three rounds of international review. Each and every review comment (perhaps around 1000 comments on the 40 pages we write) must be responded to and documented. So it is a lot of work – but you learn a lot!!

What type of impact do you think the report/chapter will have?

I hope it will strengthen the scientific underpinning of the UNCCD – which has always been pretty weak. Another important impact is hopefully that it will provide compelling arguments for a broader approach to addressing land degradation. It will also strengthen the commitment to climate change action in the Global South – where land degradation is often a more urgent problem than climate change.

How does the overall report relate to sustainability science?

Scientific assessments, and IPCC in particular, is a key component in linking science and action. One reason why the IPCC is so influential is because it is integrated into a political process where it has the power to shape the international agenda.

The full name of the report is: Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems (SRCCL)