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Abidjan, Beijing, Cairo, November 3, 2023 – For the first time ever, the Presidents of the last Conference of Parties (COP) of each of the three Rio Conventions have decided to join forces. With three weeks to go before the opening of COP28 in Dubai, the Presidents: Underlined the urgency of the situation and the inextricable links between climate change, desertification and loss of biodiversity; Called for a coordinated approach both at international and national levels to tackle these issues in a holistic way; Pleaded for more cooperation between the three COPs and their secretariats; And asked for urgent, concrete, measures to protect the world population, environment, lands and biodiversity to ensure a sustainable future for new generations. They did so in a historic joint declaration released today, signed by: Alain-Richard Donwahi, former Minister of Water and Forestry of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and President of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification’s COP15 (UNCCD) Sameh Shoukry, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt and President of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s COP27 (UNFCCC) Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment of the People’s Republic of China and President of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s COP15 (CBD) At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio in 1992, the international community decided to create three different conventions to fight climate change, halt desertification and prevent loss of biodiversity. However, as these three phenomena accelerate, the interconnections between them amplify, creating a vicious circle. Breaking this vicious circle requires a holistic vision and a coordinated approach. With this common declaration, the three Presidents hope to open a new chapter in the fight against climate change, desertification and biodiversity loss, one of coordinated efforts to face the urgency. About UNCCD’s COP15 The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) brings together leaders from the Convention's signatory countries, the private sector, NGOs and civil society. It aims to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought, promote sustainable land management, rehabilitate and restore degraded lands and ecosystems, mobilize financial resources, develop technologies to support affected countries, and strengthen international cooperation and partnerships to address these phenomena. Like the COP on biodiversity, the COP on desertification meets every two years. Its last major meeting was held in May 2022 in Abidjan. From the previous summit until the next held in Riyadh for December 2024, the COP on Desertification has been chaired by the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, represented by Alain-Richard Donwahi. Media contacts: Emilie Villemin +33 6 81 11 68 06 COP15Desertification(at)apcoworldwide.com
As the UNCCD high-level meeting in Central Asia draws near, we welcome you to this discussion on why global and regional gatherings are an essential part of the UNCCD process. The twenty-first session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 21) in Samarkand is set to serve as a vital marker in the Convention’s ongoing efforts to accelerate progress on land restoration and drought resilience. By bringing together experts, leaders and delegates from 196 nations and the European Union, the meeting sets a major arena for the exchange of cutting-edge insights. This pooling of global expertise not only fosters productive solutions but also facilitates joint decision-making, ensuring a coordinated approach to pressing environmental challenges. CRIC21 will focus on strategic objectives ranging from sustainable land management and drought resilience to secure and equal land rights for women. The event will also provide a platform to discuss emergent crises exacerbated by climate change, such as sand and dust storms and wildfires. Taking place at the halfway point between the biannual Confrences of the Parties (COP) to UNCCD, the insights coming out of CRIC21 will aid in defining the next steps for all stakeholders, providing a clear and focused roadmap to UNCCD COP16, scheduled to take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2024.
Excellency, Abdulrahman Al Fadhley, Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture of the KSA Excellency Salam Al Malik, Director General of ISESCO, Excellency Hussein Brahim Taha, SG of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Excellencies, Ministers Esteemed delegates, and honored guests Ladies and gentlemen, As-Salaamu aleykum As we gather today in the beautiful city of Jeddah, I wish to express our profound appreciation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for graciously hosting this gathering today. My appreciation extends to ICESCO, the linchpin behind our convening today. Now more than ever before, as we witness the catastrophic effects of environmental changes, redefining our relationships with nature is of critical importance. Allow me to bring to your attention the Centrality of sustainable land management to green transformation. Land is not merely the terrain beneath our feet. Land has always been the cradle of our civilizations. Land provides us with the essential food we eat. Land clothes us; land provides us with the water we drink and the clean air we breathe. It nurtures our ecosystems, supports our economies, and sustains our cultures. The health of our lands is therefore the cornerstone upon food security. Land degradation and drought amplify competition over access to land and water. Conflicts between farmers and pastoralists are exploding all over. Consider this: any land degradation anywhere in the world, is a depreciation of our global economy and an erosion of human wellbeing. Any efforts to « green the economy » are therefore doomed to fail, unless we prioritize investments in this crucial natural capital. We know this well: nature provides 30% of the solutions to climate change. Sadly, nature-based solutions only receive 3% of the climate funding. Sadly, investments on land restoration and drought mitigation are shockingly insufficient. This should change, and this group of countries has to power to bring positive change. Arguably, countries of the Islamic World have more power to bring positive change to the Planet than any other similar group. The Islamic World, perhaps more than other groups, needs to control its narrative on climate and environmental change. Unleashing that power can be truly transformative and bring positive change to the world. Coming back specifically to land loss, the challenge is huge. According to the UNCCD’s Global Land Outlook report, up to 40 % of the global land has been degraded. If the current trend continues, by 2050, we will further degrade an area the size of South America. The good news is the solution is literally in our hands: it’s called Land Restoration. By restoring degraded land, we improve food security and, even more importantly, food sovereignty. Whether in Arid Lands, in grasslands or in more humid ecosystems, we have one billion hectares of land that can be put back to health by 2030. Healing one billion hectares of ailing land and putting it back to the global economy is a smart and wise investment. One good example of such powerful change is the critical role played by Saudi Arabia during its G20 Presidency, when it led G20 Leaders to adopt the Global Land Restoration Initiative. The ambitious G20 Global Land Initiative, housed within the UNCCD, has set an audacious goal: halve land degradation in the world by 2040. This initiative is global in scope and is committed to working with all countries, including those of the Islamic World and with the ICESCO. We are also very pleased with the Middle East Green Initiative, which has received substantive financial support from Saudi Arabia and aims at restoring 200 million hectares of degraded land. We are confident that building on Islamic Civilization and its great principles of solidarity, more countries will support large-scale land restoration as well Drought Mitigation in the world. Indeed, islamic civilizations were visionaries in fields like sustainable agriculture, water conservation, and harmonious land practices. It's a heritage—a treasure of knowledge- that can be drawn upon. Yet, as we honor our past, we must confront silent killers that are chocking our economies, namely land degradation and drought. As we build our futures, we must ensure that our progress is in harmony with nature. To achieve this, we need to combine ancestral wisdom with contemporary innovation. Weaving together Islamic principles of stewardship and reverence for nature with cutting-edge land management techniques, we can chart a course towards a green transformation. Allow me, before I conclude, to say a word about the Road to UNCCD COP16. Saudi Arabia’s role as the host of the upcoming UNCCD COP 16 is a testament of commitments to addressing these global challenges. Climate COP 27 in Sharm Es-Sheikh and COP28 in Dubai, while Morocco just hosted the WB/IMF annual assemblies …there is no mistake. There is a clear indication of Islamic Countries strong commitment to multilateralism. UNCCD COP16 in December 2024, in Riyadh, presents a unique platform for countries of this group to demonstrate their leadership in combating desertification, land degradation, and drought. We can make the next UNCCD 16th COP the moon-shoot moment for land restoration and drought resilience, for people, for the planet and for prosperity. Shukran!
Bonn/Samarkand, 10 October 2023 – Today the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) entered into a landmark agreement with the government of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The Host Country Agreement marks the culminating chapter in the preparations for the upcoming 21st session of the UNCCD Committee on the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC21), to be held from 13-17 November 2023 in Samarkand. For the first time since its inception, UNCCD is convening one of its most important meetings in the heart of Central Asia. The highly anticipated CRIC21 will serve as a global platform for cutting-edge insights into land degradation and drought while assessing the progress the countries are making in restoring productive land. Welcoming the UNCCD delegation to the historic crossroads of culture and civilization in the city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan's Minister of Ecology, Aziz Abdukhakimov emphasized the upcoming UN conference's role in bolstering global partnerships and environmental innovation. Among the inspiring examples of the successful project in land restoration he shared is the ongoing tree-planting efforts on 2 million hectares to combat the Aral Sea environmental crisis. UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw noted that CRIC21 meets at a time of increasing environmental turbulence: cataclysmic heatwaves in Europe and North America, devastating droughts in the Horn of Africa, torrential monsoons and cyclones across Asia. The significance of land degradation as both a contributor to and a consequence of these phenomena cannot be overstated. Recent UN data paints a sobering picture, demonstrating that 420 million hectares of fertile and productive land between have been degraded between 2015 and 2019 – an area exceeding the combined landscapes of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. CRIC21 – a global symposium of delegates from 196 nations and the European Union, leaders of the civil society, academia, and international organizations – will delve into progress on the Convention's strategic objectives. These range from sustainable land management and drought resilience to ensuring fair land rights for women and tackling the sand and dust storms and wildfires exacerbated by the climate change and environmental degradation. The UNCCD secretariat wishes to express its sincere gratitude to the Republic of Uzbekistan for graciously assuming the role of the host for this pivotal event. Like an intricate carpet weaved by expert hands unfurls to reveal its detailed patterns, CRIC21 will roll out at the Silk Road Samarkand Congress Centre in Uzbekistan this November.
Mr. Chairman, Bureau members, distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, Permítame trasladar mis sinceras felicitaciones a su Excelencia el Embajador Carlos Amorin, Representante Permanente de Uruguay ante las Naciones Unidas y Presidente de la Segunda Comisión de la Asamblea General. I also congratulate your fellow Bureau members. We will spare no efforts to support your work. Let me also salute the delegations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mongolia and Uzbekistan. Saudi Arabia will host UNCCD COP 16 in Riyadh in December 2024, Mongolia COP 17 in 2026. Uzbekistan is hosting next month the 21st session of the Committee for the Review of the implementation of the Convention in Samarkand. I wish to express my gratitude and appreciation to these countries which are playing a leadership role in the UNCCD processes and implementation. Excellencies, Three weeks ago, the UN Secretary-General drew the world leaders’ attention to the fact that only 15 per cent of the SDG targets are on track and many are, on the contrary, going in reverse. The Secretary-General sounded alarm bells warning that instead of leaving no one behind, we risked leaving the SDGs behind. And this is the case for land and its SDG 15.3, in the 2023 report, the findings are worrisome: “Between 2015 and 2019, the world lost at least 100 million hectares of healthy and productive land every year, affecting food and water security globally. " Worldwide, poverty, hunger, environmental degradation, and conflicts are indeed increasing. And we can see a correlation where globally the poorest and the hungriest are found in areas affected by land degradation, desertification, and drought, and the Sahel and the Dry Corridor in Central America, to name few, are clear examples of this reality. These intertwined crises of nature-climate-land degradation and conflicts require the implementation of solutions that generate multiple benefits and the mobilization of technical and economic resources at an unprecedented scale. Investing in land restoration and drought resilience are win-win and cost- effective solutions with multiple benefits for a safe and sustainable future. Land restoration and drought resilience are critical to guarantee water and food security, livelihoods, to reduce irregular migration of people and conflicts over resource scarcity. These solutions also constitute building blocks to achieve climate and biodiversity goals. Excellencies, Within this framework let me now proceed to the introduction of the Report of the Secretary-General contained in document A/78/209, section II. The report suggests some recommendations that we hope would feature the UNCCD resolution that you will negotiate in these coming days. Since this report has been before you for quite some time, I will not go into its details. Regarding the outcome of COP 15, the Secretariat is working with the country Parties to support the implementation of the COP decisions adopted in Abidjan. In the context of achieving land degradation neutrality, we noted some important political signals. For instance, in 2020 in Riyadh, the G20 Group declared their ambition to reduce 50 per cent of the world’s degraded land by 2040. This declaration and the launch of the G20 Global Land Initiative are contributing to consolidating a land restoration movement. Over the past two years, the presidencies of G20 have included land restoration as an important political priority within their communique, and have promoted the restoration of peatlands and mangroves, as well as land affected by mining and forest fires. LDN is becoming an important vehicle to achieve the SDGs: 130 countries are currently involved in the process for setting land degradation neutrality targets, and a number of flagship initiatives on land restoration are being promoted globally: such as Great Green Wall in the Sahel and in the SADC region, the Dry Corridor, the Middle East Green Initiative. We need to continue enhancing collaboration and cooperation to accelerate action on the ground. In terms of outreach activities, the highlight has been the observance of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on June 17, celebrated in the General Assembly Hall. That day a global campaign under the theme “Her Land. Her Rights” was launched to advocate for women and girls’ access to land. Several global leaders, UN agencies and partners participated in the event and are part of this global campaign that recognizes that land restoration, conservation and sustainable management can be accelerated if we address land tenure and gender issues in an integrated manner. On the drought front, we are moving forward. We see an appetite from the international community to operate a paradigm shift in drought management – from reactive to proactive action that better prepares countries and communities for future droughts, but more information sharing, resources, and political will is needed. It is in this context that the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA) was established to generate more political momentum for this agenda and to accelerate action. I invite the General Assembly to encourage its members to join this coalition. Regarding the implementation of the COP 15 decision, the Intergovernmental Working Group on Drought has been analyzing how to strengthen drought management system within the convention. Its members are currently discussing policy options to be considered by COP 16. The next COP which will be held in December 2024 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia aspires to be a moonshot moment for the land and drought resilience agenda. We hope to see you there. Before I close my presentation, allow me to pay a short tribute to my colleague, Mr. Melchiade Bukuru, Director of our Office in New York who is about to retire after over a quarter of a century with you, for his long dedication and commitment to UNCCD processes.  https://hlpf.un.org/sites/default/files/2023-04/SDG%20Progress%20Report%20Special%20Edition.pdf
UN conference to tackle rapid land degradation and worsening droughts to take place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, from 13-17 November 2023 Bonn/Samarkand, 13 September 2023 – For the first time since its inception, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will convene one of its official meetings in Central Asia. The twenty-first session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 21) will reveal the latest global trends in land degradation and drought, and review how countries are progressing with land restoration. It comes at a vital moment, when the world is witnessing an uptick in extreme weather events, with historic heatwaves and wildfires across Europe and North America, several failed rainy seasons in the Horn of Africa, and devastating floods, monsoons and cyclones in Asia. Land degradation contributes to these climatic changes and events and is simultaneously made worse by them. Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, said: “We are at a crucial juncture in our efforts to sustain life on land. Droughts, wildfires and heatwaves we have witnessed around the world are the symptoms of the deepening and interlinked climate and nature crises, with land at the heart of both. Since 2015, some 4 million square kilometres of healthy and productive lands have been lost—an area roughly the size of Central Asia. We must urgently stop further land degradation and restore at least 1 billion hectares to meet global land targets by 2030.” The meeting will be held at the Silk Road Samarkand Congress Centre in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, from 13 to 17 November 2023. On 15 November, there will be a high-level event on sand and dust storms, many of which have occurred in Uzbekistan and surrounding countries and regions with increasing frequency and severity in recent years. In addition, the UNCCD Gender Caucus on 14 November will convene international experts to discuss women’s land rights as a prerequisite to the success of global land restoration and drought resilience efforts. According to the latest UN data, between 2015 and 2019, at least 100 million hectares of healthy and productive land were degraded every year, affecting food and water security globally and directly impacting the lives of 1.3 billion people. This adds up to 420 million hectares, or 4.2 million square kilometres, slightly over the combined area of five Central Asian nations: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. If current trends continue, restoring 1.5 billion hectares of land by 2030 will be necessary to achieve a land-degradation-neutral world. Alternatively, halting any new land degradation and accelerating existing commitments to restore 1 billion hectares can surpass the neutrality target. CRIC21 will review progress in implementing the Convention’s strategic objectives on promoting sustainable land management, building drought resilience, supporting women's leadership in sustainable agriculture, and addressing forced migration due to land degradation and climate change. It will bring together representatives from 196 countries and the European Union which are signatories to the UNCCD, as well as civil society, academia and international organizations. Notes to editors Accredited media representatives are invited to attend and report on CRIC21 and associated events. Field visits where journalists can see land restoration and drought resilience projects will take place immediately prior to CRIC21. Online registration for media representatives is available at the following link: www.unccd.int/cric-21-online-registration. To register, please provide the following documents: One recent passport-sized photograph A valid press card A copy (picture and signature pages) of your passport (for foreign journalists) or national identity card (for local applicants) A letter of introduction from the bureau chief or company sponsoring your travel to the session. For freelance journalists, a letter is required from the media organization assigning you to cover the conference A duly completed accreditation form Journalists who register online will be able to collect their accreditation at the Silk Road Samarkand Congress Center on presentation of a valid press card and an identity document. For more information on the regulations governing visa applications and the introduction of reporting material into Uzbekistan, please consult the following link: https://e-visa.gov.uz/main_ For inquiries about media accreditation or coverage of the event, please contact: email@example.com A dedicated press and media working space will be available at the conference venue. Additional information and media updates on the Convention and CRIC 21 will be available on the host country CRIC 21 website and the UNCCD website. About UNCCD The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the global vision and voice for land. We unite governments, scientists, policymakers, private sector and communities around a shared vision and global action to restore and manage the world’s land for the sustainability of humanity and the planet. Much more than an international treaty signed by 197 Parties, UNCCD is a multilateral commitment to mitigating today’s impacts of land degradation and advancing tomorrow’s land stewardship in order to provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people in an equitable and inclusive manner. Image: (c) Asia Development Bank