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Gateway to a Global Community of Sustainable Land Management 
E-Learning Course on Using Land-Cover Information to Monitor SDG 15 Progress

On March 21, 2024, a new e-learning course titled “Using Land-Cover Information to Monitor Progress on Sustainable Development Goal 15” was launched. Kicked off on the International Day of Forests, this course is a collaborative effort between the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) , the Group on Earth Observations Land Degradation Neutrality Flagship (GEO-LDN), and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

The course dives into the world of land-cover data and its crucial role in tracking SDG 15, which aims to preserve life on land through sustainable forest management, combating desertification, responding to land degradation, and protecting biodiversity. It zeroes in on two key indicators: 15.3.1 (proportion of degraded land over the total land area) and 15.4.2 (mountain green cover index and proportion of degraded mountain land).

This self-paced course serves as a five-course meal, with each lesson taking around 35 minutes. It starts with an introduction to land cover and land-cover data, moves on to “Using land cover for reporting with international standards”, followed by exploring land-cover change as an indicator of land degradation, and finishes with computing and reporting on SDG indicators 15.3.1 and 15.4.2.

Properly utilizing land-cover data is essential for monitoring environmental changes and assessing their impact on achieving SDG 15. The course aims to equip participants with the skills to use this data to promote sustainable development and balance economic growth with ecosystem preservation. Think of it as a GPS for our planet’s health, helping us navigate toward a greener future.

Primarily designed for government technical officers responsible for reporting on SDG indicators, the course is also a treasure trove for anyone with a penchant for environmental monitoring. It’s free and accessible through the FAO e-learning Academy, and participants who complete the course and pass the final assessment will earn a digital badge – a virtual high-five for your newly acquired skills.

The course emphasizes the importance of global collaboration and knowledge sharing in achieving SDG 15.  In doing so, it serves as a virtual meeting space for a big, global study group, bringing individuals and organizations together to connect, share insights, and work towards a sustainable future. Improving land-cover monitoring is vital for tracking land restoration and degradation. The course helps reporting officers understand and use land-cover information effectively to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality. It also highlights the importance of understanding land-cover change for informed decision-making regarding land resources.

This e-learning course is a significant step toward enhancing global efforts in environmental monitoring and sustainable development. By providing essential skills and knowledge, the course supports the achievement of SDG 15 and promotes sustainable management of natural resources. With the Desertification and Drought Day, June 17, approaching, we would like to present you once again with this five-course feast of knowledge. Ready to dig in and earn your new shiny badge of honour? Be our guest here.

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