SDGs: Indicator 15.3.1 | Land Portal

This indicator is currently classified as Tier I. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the Custodian agency for this indicator. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are partner agencies.

Uni of measure: Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area (%)


Why is this indicator important?

Food production, extractive industries, or the expansion of infrastructure increase pressure on arable lands, pastures, forestry, and other essential areas. In turn, land degradation has negative effects on ecosystems, farm yields, and the quantity and quality of water resources. As a consequence, food insecurity may rise and facilitate migration and urbanization.

To assess the extent of land degradation is important for tracking progress towards voluntary Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets and for the development of plans of action to redress degradation, including through the conservation, sustainable management, rehabilitation and restoration of land resources.


How is the indicator measured and monitored?

According to the metadata document, the indicator uses a binary classification (degraded or not degraded) drawing on the three sub-indicators that assess trends in land cover, in land productivity, and in carbon stocks above and below ground. Any significant decrease or negative change in one of the three is considered to compromise land degradation. Land degradation is defined the reduction or loss of the biological or economic productivity and complexity of rain fed cropland, irrigated cropland, or range, pasture, forest and woodlands resulting from a combination of pressures, including land use and management practices. (UNCCD 1994, Article 1). 

Since 2018, data is collected every four years through UNCCD’s national reporting and review process. Data sources include databases, maps, reports provided by ministries or agencies along with national statistical offices, as well as remote sensing, such Earth Observation data sources, that are disaggregated to national level. The Good Practices Guidance for SDG Indicator 15.3.1, version 2.0 provides a detail overview on monitoring and computation. The main limitations include the availability of historical time series and the, as of yet, often limited national capacities to process, interpret, and validate geospatial data.


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The data series presented here measures proportion of land that is degraded over total land area (%).

Measurement unit: 
Percentage (%)

Land area (1'000 Ha) exclusively dedicated to organic agriculture and managed by applying organic agriculture methods. It refers to the land area fully converted to organic agriculture.

Measurement unit: 
1'000 ha

'Agriculture'' area certified organic and/or in conversion to organic.

Previously known as "Agricultural area organic, total"

Measurement unit: 
1'000 ha

Droughts, floods and extreme temperatures is the annual average percentage of the population that is affected by natural disasters classified as either droughts, floods, or extreme temperature even

Measurement unit: 
% of population affected (average 1990-2009)

The data series presented here measures proportion of land that is degraded over total land area (%).

Measurement unit: 
Percentage (%)

Restrictions regarding rural land use are enforced measured on a scale from A - which stands for good practices - to D - reflecting weak practices.

Measurement unit: 
Index (A; D)

Land and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Goal 15: Life on land
Target 15.3: By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world

Indicator details

Tier 2

The indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, but data is not regularly produced by countries.

Custodian agency: 

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (UNCCD) is a Convention to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements.



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