Two of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to “end poverty” (Goal 1) and to “strive to achieve a land-degradation neutral world” (Goal 15.3), which requires that any land degradation is fully offset by restoration of degraded land. A fundamental question is whether these two SDGs are compatible. Ending global poverty while at the same time balancing land degradation with restoration suggests that there may be potential tradeoffs in attaining these two SDGs. Accurately assessing these tradeoffs will require, in turn, a clear understanding of the relationship between land degradation and poverty. Despite decades of research, it is not obvious that such a consensus view exists in the literature.
In 2015, I was approached by an Editor of Yale University Press UK with a request: Would I consider writing a book on the economics of water? Four years later, it was published as "The Water Paradox". Writing this book proved to be a major challenge, yet ultimately, worthwhile.