Soil Health, Sustainable Land Management and Land Degradation in Africa: Legal Options on the Need for a Specific African Soil Convention or Protocol
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This chapter explores the situation on soil health management, and the responses to land degradation in Africa, and examines whether the current multiplicity of international law instruments is sufficient or whether an Africa-specific legal instrument is required to address soil health in the context of sustainable land management and in response to land degradation. The chapter has drawn its inspiration from the first volume of the International Yearbook of Soil Law and Policy (2016), in which the welcome note from Africa written by Mr. Shem Shikongo from Namibia focused on the continuing prevalence of land degradation across Africa, despite multiple international legal options and in spite of the opportunity for Africa to frame a bespoke legal and policy approach to address land degradation, food security, and related challenges, such as climate change. According to the FAO, in a 2015 report, although Africa has a diverse range of soils and land-use systems, very large areas, particularly in West Africa, experience unsustainable systems of land use and erosion, together with widespread low fertility. Climate change represents a major global challenge to sustainable development and poses a specific obstacle to Africa due to the vulnerability of production systems, including land. Despite participating in various international legal instruments, Africa still faces hurdles in cooperatively addressing land degradation. The emergence of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the concept of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) present an opportunity for an endogenous African approach to internalize options and mechanism that are unique and responsive to African needs.
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