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The Blueprint

Our Land, Our Future

Our Land, Our Future

This year’s World Environment Day highlights the pressing issues of land restoration, desertification and drought resilience.

Photo: Freepik

We depend on soil for growing crops. However, drought and desertification are harming the land that lets us put food on the table. Declining soil quality can make it hard for plants and animals to survive in parched soil. Every 15 minutes, we lose 360 hectares of arable land – equivalent to the size of Marina Bay.

Rice crops provide at least 20% of daily calories for about half the world’s population. However, we could see yields drop by over 5.5% if temperatures climb by 1.5°C. Major rice producers such as China and Thailand are already facing low harvests from hotter and drier growing conditions.

Climate change adds another layer of unpredictability to harvests. Droughts can have devastating effects on crops, even in the tropics where we typically enjoy abundant rainfall. However, prolonged dry spells, rising temperatures, coupled with more frequent and severe droughts can diminish soil moisture. More people will also be forced to leave their homes as a result of everything from food shortages and land scarcity to increased conflict.

As for businesses, droughts have long-lasting impacts as firms rely on natural resources to maintain their operations, produce goods, and deliver services. For instance, agriculture producers need healthy soil and water to support favourable growing conditions. Asia’s rice prices soared to a 2-year high in July 2023 on the back of concerns over crop losses from exceptionally hot and dry weather. If Singapore is unable to achieve its 30 by 30 food security ambitions, how then will it cope when its major suppliers are hard-hit by poor harvests?

Climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution threaten to destroy ecosystems that we all depend on for food, water and survival. Land restoration is a key pillar of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), which calls for global protection and revival of ecosystems. At PCM, our environmental analysis identifies and supports businesses that act on biodiversity by implementing sustainable land use, resource management, and procurement policies. While we cannot turn back time, we must reinforce actions that support healthy ecosystems by bringing back soils, regenerating forests, and reviving water sources.

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