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What needs to happen?


There is growing awareness in the EU that land is a finite resource. Though land management per se is not specifically targeted by EU policies, the EU is taking action to set targets that lead to a more sustainable management of land as a resource. A first step toward this aim was reported in the 2011 Communication from the Commission on a Roadmap to Resource Efficient Europe (RRE). The RRE defines milestones that illustrate what will be needed for Europe to follow a path toward resource efficiency and sustainable growth, thus contributing to a global economic transformation. The RRE vision is that by 2050 the EU economy becomes more competitive with much lower environmental impacts, and that "By 2020, EU policies take into account their direct and indirect impact on land use in the EU and globally, and the rate of land take is on track with an aim to achieve no net land take by 2050". This is particularly urgent given the number of policies and initiatives that have an impact on land use and is based on the identification of specific targets that will:

  • Reduce land used for biofuels;
  • Avoid additional land take (e.g. for urban sprawl); avoid urban sprawl on fertile soils;
  • Remediate contaminated sites;
  • Optimise land use to reconcile with other uses; reverse soil loss;
  • Halt the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU and restore ecosystems as far as possible by 2020;
  • Halt the loss of biodiversity;
  • Invest in Green Infrastructure;
  • Reorganise the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP, 2014-2020);
  • Develop a blueprint for water management (2012);
  • Enhance natural capital through nature-based solutions;
  • Innovate for sustainable growth through a Bioeconomy Strategy, including improvements in the management of renewable biological resources.

Moreover, the EU’s 7th Environment Action Programme 2014-2020 calls for targets to be set to limit land take, and the Rio+20 conference proposed to strive for "a land degradation neutral world in the context of sustainable development". The next milestone in this process is to bring together the common elements of these processes by releasing the Communication “Land as a resource”, which will specifically list objectives for the EU to contribute to more sustainable land management.


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