Spatial Planning: a mediating tool for the implementation of the Rio Conventions and the SDGs

“‘Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity'”
On the occasion of the UNCCD COP15 where land will be put at the center of attention, our project proposes to launch a cycle of cross-cutting exchanges within the 3 Rio Conventions and other international agreements directly concerned by spatial planning for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“‘Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity’” is the theme of United Nations Framework Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) COP 15 taking place from May 9 to 20, 2022 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Leaders from around the world come together in Abidjan to put land at the center of attention, for the benefit of future generations and the planet. Up to 40% of all ice-free land is already degraded, with dire consequences for climate, biodiversity and livelihoods. The Conference will focus on the restoration of one billion hectares of degraded land between now and 2030, future-proofing land use against the impacts of climate change, and tackling escalating disaster risks such as droughts, and sand and dust storms

On this occasion, our project has proposed to launch a cycle of cross-cutting exchanges within the 3 Rio Conventions and other international agreements directly concerned by spatial planning for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The objective is to facilitate between 2022 and 2024 possible synergies and necessary convergences for the implementation of conventions and agreements at national and also more local levels.

Each convention and agreement require territorial development planning and spatial planning is essential for each of them, but discrepancies or contradictions may arise depending on the respective objectives and milestones of environmental policies and strategies and even more with sectoral strategies and policies, which are also to be implemented in these same territories or spaces.

Only when land use planning is truly inclusive of all stakeholder interests and integrative across all environmental, economic, social and cultural needs will it help in our progress toward the SDGs.”  highlights Ibrahim Thiaw UNCCD Executive Secretary

Spatial planning is indeed at the heart of the Rio conventions, as illustrated by these few examples:

– The UNCCD Political Science interface with the May 2022 report on “The Contribution of Integrated Land Use Planning and Integrated Landscape Management to Implementing Land Degradation Neutrality: Entry Points and Support Tools»

 – Target 1 of the first draft of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (5 July 2021 version) mentions: “Ensure that all land and sea areas globally are under integrated biodiversity-inclusive spatial planning addressing land-and sea-use change, retaining existing intact and wilderness areas.”

– The scientific body of the UNFCCC with its 2019 dialogue on “Marine spatial planning and its contribution to climate change resilience through ecosystem-based management”.

Beyond the spatialization of data, the challenge is how spatial planning can serve as a tool for dialogue and mediation between potentially complementary or divergent strategies and policies to avoid conflicts of use and of course also to amplify synergies and maximize the impact of investments and efforts.

Many experiences, studies and tools are developed or used in different contexts, with more or less successes and lessons learned that are useful to share between communities of actors dealing with interlinkages too often in silos approaches.

Whether it is land or ecosystem restoration, soil carbon storage, land use change, protected area management, ecological connectivity, sustainable practices on renewable natural resources, the fight against pollution, territorial forecasts… a very large number of fields and approaches are materialized by actions in specific geographical spaces or at national level which most often concerns a plurality of actors and activities.

Identifying together the desired future of these territories for current and future generations; then making it a reality with the means to achieve them by reconciling interests is greatly facilitated if it is accompanied by a spatial planning process used as a mediating tool between the multiple actors. It also facilitates the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of actions as well as reporting to international conventions.

A first exchange on this initiative and its modalities was organized on May 12 at the E-Pavillon from the Francophonie by associating interested partners in the fields of desertification, climate and biodiversity. This initiative will concern both Parties to the conventions and non-state actors such as negotiators and focal points of international conventions, international and non-governmental institutions and organizations, local authorities, scientists, businesses, indigenous populations and local communities, investors and funding agencies, …

The initiative has be introduced by Didier Babin, senior scientific advisor of the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework EU Support project.

We no longer have time to hesitate about strong sustainability. Spatial planning helps orchestrate state actions and coordinate non-state actors for positive transformative change and avoid siloed or adversarial approaches” said Didier Babin

The next steps of the initiative will be developed for future meetings such as the ones of the Rio Conventions Pavilion at COP 15 of Biological Diversity in Kunming in China and at COP 27 of UNFCCC in Sharm-El-Sheikh in Egypt.

If you are interested in this initiative, do not hesitate to contact the project on

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