The Economics of Desertification, Land Degradation, and Drought - Toward an Integrated Global Assessment

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May 2011
Ephraim Nkonya, Nicolas Gerber, Philipp Baumgartner, Joachim Von Braun, Alex De Pinto, Valerie Graw, Edward Kato, Julia Kloos, Teresa Walter
Center for Development Research (ZEF), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Land degradation has not been comprehensively addressed at the global level or in developing countries. A suitable economic framework that could guide investments and institutional action is lacking. This study aims to overcome this deficiency and to provide a framework for a global assessment based on a consideration of the costs of action versus inaction regarding desertification, land degradation, and drought (DLDD). Most of the studies on the costs of land degradation (mainly limited to soil erosion) give cost estimates of less than 1 percent up to about 10 percent of the agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) for various countries worldwide. But the indirect costs of DLDD on the economy (national income), as well as their socioeconomic consequences (particularly poverty impacts), must be accounted for, too. Despite the numerous challenges, a global assessment of the costs of action and inaction against DLDD is possible, urgent, and necessary. This study provides a framework for such a global assessment and provides insights from some related country studies.