Through a simulation-based multi-criteria land use optimization procedure, the authors determine the potential upper bounds of improved terrestrial carbon storage and of biodiversity conservation that also allows the world to stay within the Planetary Boundaries of land and water use and ensures improved food supply for a population of 9 billion people.

They present alternative global land-use scenarios that could simultaneously yield better outcomes on all of these goals, in particular if substantial increases in agricultural productivity are realized.

They find that terrestrial carbon sequestration potentials reach 98 GtC, whereas the potential reduction of the risk to biodiversity is 53%.

Furthermore, the authors analyse the potential synergies and trade-offs of these global land-use scenarios with national- and local-level environmental and developmental goals such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); for example,  related to nature conservation, afforestation, bioenergy, employment and equity.

This model-based information on synergies and trade-offs between different sustainability goals at different scales can be used in scientific assessments of transformation pathways, in policy making, in support of improved horizontal and vertical policy coherence and multi-level institutional solutions, as well as in SDG implementation, sustainable production and consumption (SDG 12) and global partnership mechanisms (SDG 17).