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Monitoring and Assessment of desertification, land degradation and drought

Why monitoring and assessment relates to UNCCD mandate?

The implementation of the UNCCD needs agreed, scientifically-sound and practical methodologies for monitoring and assessing its progress in achieving long-term benefits for dryland’s ecosystems, the livelihood of the population living in areas affected by desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD), as well as for the global environment (i.e.: strategic objectives 1, 2 and 3 of The Strategy). Quantitative measures on the status and trends of desertification and land degradation are required to support policymakers and environmental managers in monitoring the effectiveness of their activities and in identifying national and global priorities for action. The text of the UNCCD notes that DLDD “is caused by complex interactions among physical, biological, political, social, cultural and economic factors”. Therefore, monitoring and assessment of DLDD must effectively address complex human-environment interactions.

Recent Activities

The COP mandated the CST to advise on how best to measure progress on the achievement of strategic objectives 1, 2 and 3 of The Strategy.
In 2009, the UNCCD 1st scientific conference delivered some important recommendations on ways to improve the global monitoring and assessment of dryland degradation to support decision-making in land and water management.
An iterative process for the refinement of progress indicators (formerly known as impact indicators) was launched in 2010. It included:
  • a scientific peer review process which involved more than 100 technical experts (September 2010-May 2001)
  • pilot exercise to test the indicators at national level (July-October 2011)
  • the activities of an ad hoc advisory group of tecnical experts (AGTE) (July 2012-August 2013)
In 2012, affected country Parties reported for the first time using two indicators: land cover status and poverty rate.

Other Activities

The Land Degradation Assessment in Drylands (LADA) project, conceived upon a request by the UNCCD COP, developed tools and methods to assess the baseline condition of land degradation at global and national scale. These assessments are integrated with and supplemented by detailed local assessments focusing on root cause analysis of land degradation and on local (traditional and adapted) technologies for sustainable land management.
The UNCCD also collaborated to the preparation of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) and of the synthesis report on “Human Well-being and Ecosystem Services: A Synthesis Report on Desertification”.
Before the adoption of the Strategy, the thematic focus of the CST was on benchmarks and indicators and Early Warning Systems.

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