There is potential for synergy between the global environmental conventions on climate change, biodiversity and desertification: changes in land management and land use undertaken to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions can simultaneously deliver positive outcomes for conservation of biodiversity, and mitigation of desertification and land degradation. However, while there can be complementarities between the three environmental goals, there are often tradeoffs. Thus, the challenge lies in developing land use policies that promote optimal environmental outcomes, and in implementing these locally to promote sustainable development. The paper considers synergies and tradeoffs in implementing land use measures to address the objectives of the three global environmental conventions, both from an environmental and economic perspective. The intention is to provide environmental scientists and policy makers with a broad overview of these considerations, and the benefits of addressing the conventions simultaneously.