Which practices co-deliver food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and combat land-degradation and desertification?

Pete Smith*, Katherine Calvin, Johnson Nkem, Donovan Campbell, Francesco Cherubini, Giacomo Grassi, Vladimir Korotkov, Anh Le Hoang, Shuaib Lwasa, Pamela McElwee, Ephraim Nkonya, Nobuko Saigusa, Jean-Francois Soussana, Miguel Angel Taboada, Frances Manning, Dorothy Nampanzira, Cristina Arias-Navarro, Matteo Vizzarri, Jo House, Stephanie RoeAnnette Cowie, Mark Rounsevell, Almut Arneth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


There is a clear need for transformative change in the land management and food production sectors to address the global land challenges of climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, combatting land-degradation and desertification, and delivering food security (referred to hereafter as “land challenges”). We assess the potential for 40 practices to address these land challenges and find that: Nine options deliver medium to large benefits for all four land challenges. A further two options, have no global estimates for adaptation, but have medium to large benefits for all other land challenges. Five options have large mitigation potential (> 3 GtCO2e yr-1) without adverse impacts on the other land challenges. Five options have moderate mitigation potential, with no adverse impacts on the other land challenges. Sixteen practices have large adaptation potential (>25 million people benefit), without adverse side-effects on other land challenges. Most practices can be applied without competing for available land. However, seven options could result in competition for land. A large number of practices do not require dedicated land, including several land management options, all value chain options, and all risk management options. Four options could greatly increase competition for land if applied at a large scale, though the impact is scale and context specific, highlighting the need for safeguards to ensure that expansion of land for mitigation does not impact natural systems and food security. A number of practices such as increased food productivity, dietary change and reduced food loss and waste, can reduce demand for land conversion, thereby potentially freeing-up land and creating opportunities for enhanced implementation of other practices, making them important components of portfolios of practices to address the combined land challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1532-1575
Number of pages44
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number3
Early online date14 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

The input of P.S. contributes to the following UKRI-funded projects: DEVIL
(NE/M021327/1), MAGLUE (EP/M013200/1), U-GRASS (NE/M016900/1), Assess-BECCS (funded by UKERC), Soils-R-GRREAT (NE/P019455/1), N-Circle (BB/N013484/1), the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme through projects: CIRCASA (grant agreement n° 774378), UNISECO (grant agreement n° 773901), SUPERG (grant agreement n° 774124) and VERIFY (grant agreement n° 776810) and the Wellcome Trust-funded project Sustianable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS). P.S. received support for his role as a Conveneing Lead Author of the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land, from the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). F.C. acknowledges the support of the Norwegian Research Council through the projects MITISTRESS (project n. 286773), Bio4Fuels (project n. 257622), Carbo-Fertil (project n. 281113), and BIOPATH (project n. 294534). All other authors acknowledge support from their respective governments, or from the IPCC Trust Fund, to support their attendance at author meetings of the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land, for which this anaylsis was undertaken. The views expressed are purely those of the authors and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission or any other Government Agency.


  • mitigation
  • adaptation
  • land degradation
  • desertification
  • food security
  • practice
  • co-benefits
  • adverse side-effects
  • land management
  • demand management
  • risk management
  • adverse side effects
  • Food Supply
  • Acclimatization
  • Climate Change
  • Agriculture
  • Conservation of Natural Resources


Dive into the research topics of 'Which practices co-deliver food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and combat land-degradation and desertification?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this