Grasslands are under severe threat from ongoing degradation, undermining their capacity to support biodiversity, ecosystem services and human well-being. Yet, grasslands are largely ignored in sustainable development agendas. In this Perspective, we examine the current state of global grasslands and explore the extent and dominant drivers of their degradation. Socio-ecological solutions are needed to combat degradation and promote restoration. Important strategies include: increasing recognition of grasslands in global policy; developing standardized indicators of degradation; using scientific innovation for effective restoration at regional and landscape scales; and enhancing knowledge transfer and data sharing on restoration experiences. Stakeholder needs can be balanced through standardized assessment and shared understanding of the potential ecosystem service trade-offs in degraded and restored grasslands. The integration of these actions into sustainability policy will aid in halting degradation and enhancing restoration success, and protect the socio-economic, cultural and ecological benefits that grasslands provide.