Degradation of soils is a worldwide phenomenon and has various affects on environment, primarily in terms of ecosystems and biodiversity loss, contributing to desertification and, hence, increasing vulnerability to climate change. This range of interrelated issues is attributed to unsustainable land use practices and continuously growing further demand for land.
Overcoming the issue of soil degrading soils is central for establishing food security which depends on agriculture which, in its turn, is a major cause of the land, water and ecosystems degradation. In other words, urgent need to increase agricultural productivity leads to intensive land use that, ultimately, leads to the fact the 24% of the world’s land, including more than a third of cropland, is degraded; twelve million hectares are lost to droughts or desertification each year, causing economic losses and social problems. Such situation requires simultaneous actions in multiple directions, and an integrated “nexus” approach to soil, land, water and ecosystems management can be a solution.
Nexus stands for interconnectedness and aims to cut across the boundaries. To a great extent, unsustainable agricultural practices are the result of a narrow focus on a single goal, in particular, – to maximize crop yields and farm revenues. The Nexus approach accounts for externalities and seeks to reduce tradeoffs and build synergies between different sectors and activities (water, energy, food), as well as natural resources (soil, land, water, carbon, nutrients) and climate regulation (e.g. through carbon sequestration).
Recent article, published in the vol.47 of Rural21, devoted to soil, was jointly written by SIANI and SEI experts and is arguing in favor of the Nexus approach to the soil and land degradation. The authors pinpoint necessary synergies and suggest how Nexus can be integrated into the land and soil management strategies, providing cases for better illustration of the Nexus approach in different contexts.