Zero net livelihood degradation – the quest for a multidimensional protocol to combat desertification
Abstract. The concept of Zero Net Land Degradation was recently proposed as the basis for a future protocol for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification to reduce global dryland degradation. It aims at reducing the rate of land degradation and increasing the rate of restoration of already degraded land. Whereas there is recognition of the socio-economic contexts that underlie degradation processes, there is a narrow focus on land and soil as the end core that needs to be protected. In particular, there is an essential human dimension to the sustainability of drylands that should be adequately tackled. In order to provide a wider perspective of the zero net degradation in drylands, I suggest considering the different livelihoods of rural households as a framework that encompasses the multidimensional perspective of desertification as a complex social–ecological problem. The scientific community must develop and apply the zero net livelihood degradation as an enhanced protocol to combat desertification that should foster sustainable livelihood outcomes rather than only sustainable land practices or soil management.