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Global Alliance for Drought Resilience builds momentum with new members

IDRA co-chairs Senegal and Spain hold a high-level event at COP28 Australia, Colombia, Comoros, Italy and the Commonwealth are latest to join   Dubai, 1 December 2023—As 2023 is ending as the warmest year on record, the global platform to prepare the world for harsher droughts, the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA) , welcomes eight new members, signaling a growing political will to act against one of most deadly and costly natural disasters in the face of climate change. The addition of six countries and several major intergovernmental and research organizations, announced at the UN Climate Summit COP28 in Dubai, brings the total membership of IDRA to 36 countries and 28 organizations. The countries joining the alliance this year are Australia, Colombia, Jordan, Italy, Uruguay and the Union of the Comoros, which currently chairs the African-Union. In addition, the Commonwealth Secretariat, as well as three other organizations-- the Climate Commission for the Sahel Region (CCRS), the Central American Commission for Climate and the Environment (CCAD) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), member of the global research partnership CGIAR – were also announced as joining IDRA. Together, they represent efforts to build evidence-based resilience at the country, regional and global level. Launched at UN Climate Summit COP27 by the leaders of Spain and Senegal, IDRA is the first global coalition creating political momentum and mobilizing financial and technical resources for a drought-resilient future. The alliance devoted 2023 to building awareness at the highest political level. From 2024, IDRA will draw on the collective strengths of its expanding membership to advance concrete policies, actions, and capacity-building initiatives for drought preparedness, acknowledging we are only as resilient to drought and climate change as our land is. The IDRA secretariat is hosted by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). United in action IDRA co-chairs emphasized the urgency of building drought resilience as global freshwater demand is projected to outstrip supply by 40% by 2030, and they commended new members for their commitment to changing the way the world addresses drought. “Drought knows now borders, meaning we need common action and solidarity to face the emergency,” said President of Senegal, H.E. Macky Sall, who noted that droughts affect 1.84 billion people throughout the world, 85 percent of them in low- and middle-income countries. Central to that action, he said, is the transfer of technologies, sharing of experiences, and exchange of best practices, as well as a just energy transition. Prime Minister of Spain, H.E. Pedro Sánchez, summed up the achievements of IDRA in its first year, from mobilizing countries and global organizations, to outlining a common framework for action with priority investments for drought resilience, to supporting affected countries to develop their strategies in areas like the Central American Dry Corridor. “Drought is a global phenomenon. For those of you who are not yet members of IDRA, I invite you to join this Alliance to leverage individual efforts and transform them into collective action,” said Sánchez. “Let us build on the political momentum of this COP28 to increase resilience to extreme events.” In turn, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, H. E. Patricia Scotland said: “Many of the 56 Commonwealth countries experiencing extreme weather events will welcome IDRA as a timely opportunity to promote mutual learning and collaborative action on drought resilience. By working together, our countries will be much better placed to implement effective solutions and protect the most vulnerable communities.” The UNCCD Executive Secretary, Ibrahim Thiaw, concluded: “Droughts are a natural phenomenon, but we are making them worse through poor land use, deforestation, and the disruption of the planet’s natural systems, including the climate. What humanity did through neglect, must and can fix through concerted action—or face an increasingly harsh future. Drought resilience at COP28 The latest IDRA members were announced during a high-level event ‘From awareness to action: united for drought resilience in a changing climate’ at COP28. The event brought together the IDRA co-chairs—Senegal and Spain—and members of the alliance to take stock of IDRA’s first year and usher in a next phase focused on action. During the event, UNCCD launched its ‘Global Drought Snapshot’ report, an authoritative compendium of drought-related information and data looking to inform negotiators at COP28, as well as decision-makers and practitioners from around the world. A second high-level IDRA event, scheduled for 9 December and focused on nature-based solutions and financing for drought resilience, will bring together leaders from different countries and agencies to exchange on practical ways to accelerate action. Notes to editors For interviews and enquires please contact: press@unccd.int and/or unccd@portland-communications.com  Photos (credit: UNCCD): https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1rNhWAFqQxc5ZoDK1QdISbRhaRszoONaF?usp=sharing Social media Twitter: @UNCCD / Instagram: @unccd  For information about IDRA and UNCCD events at COP28 visit: https://idralliance.global and https://www.unccd.int/cop28pavilion About IDRA The International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA) is the first global coalition creating political momentum and mobilizing financial and technical resources for a drought-resilient future. As a growing platform of more than 30 countries and 20 institutions, IDRA draws on the collective strengths of its members to advance policies, actions, and capacity-building for drought preparedness, acknowledging we are only as resilient to drought and climate change as our land is. The work of IDRA is aligned with, and supportive of, the mandate of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which hosts the IDRA Secretariat. For more information: https://idralliance.global. 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.

Global Alliance for Drought Resilience builds momentum with new members
Drought data shows “an unprecedented emergency on a planetary scale”: UN

UNCCD launches ‘Global Drought Snapshot’ report at COP28 in collaboration with International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA) Recent drought-related data based on research in the past two years and compiled by the UN point to “an unprecedented emergency on a planetary scale, where the massive impacts of human-induced droughts are only starting to unfold.” According to the report, ‘Global Drought Snapshot,’ launched by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) at the outset of COP28 climate talks in the UAE, few if any hazard claims more lives, causes more economic loss and affects more sectors of societies than drought. UNCCD is one of three Conventions originated at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The other two address climate change (UNFCCC) and biodiversity (UN CBD).  Says UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw: “Unlike other disasters that attract media attention, droughts happen silently, often going unnoticed and failing to provoke an immediate public and political response. This silent devastation perpetuates a cycle of neglect, leaving affected populations to bear the burden in isolation.” “The Global Drought Snapshot report speaks volumes about the urgency of this crisis and building global resilience to it.  With the frequency and severity of drought events increasing, as reservoir levels dwindle and crop yields decline, as we continue to lose biological diversity and famines spread, transformational change is needed.”  “We hope this publication serves as a wake-up call.” Drought data, selected highlights: 15–20%: Population of China facing more frequent moderate-to-severe droughts within this century (Yin et al., 2022) 80%: Expected increase in drought intensity in China by 2100 (Yin et al., 2022) 23 million: people deemed severely food insecure across the Horn of Africa in December 2022 (WFP, 2023) 5%: Area of the contiguous United States suffering severe to extreme drought (Palmer Drought Index) in May, 2023 (NOAA, 2023) 78: Years since drought conditions were as severe as they were in the La Plata basin of Brazil–Argentina in 2022, reducing crop production and affecting global crop markets (WMO, 2023a) 630,000 km2 (roughly the combined area of Italy and Poland): Extent of Europe impacted by drought in 2022 as it experienced its hottest summer and second warmest year on record, almost four times the average 167,000 km2 impacted between 2000 and 2022 (EEA, 2023) 500: years since Europe last experienced a drought as bad as in 2022 (World Economic Forum, 2022) 170 million: people expected to experience extreme drought if average global temperatures rise 3°C above pre-industrial levels, 50 million more than expected if  warming is limited to 1.5°C (IPCC, 2022) Agriculture and forests 70%: Cereal crops damaged by drought in the Mediterranean, 2016–2018 33%: loss of grazing land in South Africa due to drought (‌Ruwanza et al., 2022) Double or triple: Expected forest losses in the Mediterranean region under 3°C warming compared to current risk (Rossi et al., 2023) 5: Consecutive rainfall season failures in the Horn of Africa, causing the region’s worst drought in 40 years (with Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia particularly hard hit), contributing to reduced agricultural productivity, food insecurity and high food prices (WMO, 2023). 73,000 km2: average area of EU cropland (or ~5%) impacted by drought, 2000-2022, contributing to crop failures (EEA, 2023) $70 billion: Africa’s drought-related economic losses in the past 50 years (WMO, 2022). 44%: Expected drop in Argentina’s soybean production in 2023 relative to the last five years, the lowest harvest since 1988/89, contributing to an estimated 3% drop in Argentina’s GDP for 2023 (EU Science Hub, 2023) Water conditions 75%: Reduction of cargo capacity of some vessels on the Rhine due to low river levels in 2022, leading to severe delays to shipping arrivals and departures (World Economic Forum, 2022) 5 million: People in southern China affected by record-low water levels in the Yangtze River due to drought and prolonged heat (WMO, 2023a) 2,000: backlog of barges on the Mississippi River in late 2022 due to low water levels, causing $20 billion in supply chain disruptions and other economic damage (World Economic Forum, 2022) 2–5 times: Acceleration of long-term rates of groundwater-level decline and water-quality degradation in California's Central Valley basins over the past 30 years due to drought-induced pumpage (Levy et al., 2021)  Social dimensions  85%: People affected by droughts who live in low- or middle-income countries (World Bank, 2023) 15 times: Greater likelihood of being killed by floods, droughts and storms in highly vulnerable regions relative to regions with very low vulnerability, 2010 to 2020 (IPCC, 2023) 1.2 million: people in the Central American Dry Corridor needing food aid after five years of drought, heatwaves and unpredictable rainfall (UNEP, 2022) Remedies Up to 25%: CO2 emissions that could be offset by nature-based solutions including land restoration (Pan et al., 2023) Almost 100%: Reduction in the conversion of global forests and natural land for agriculture if just half of animal products such as pork, chicken, beef and milk consumed today were replaced with sustainable alternatives (Carbon Brief, 2023) 20 to 50%: Potential reduction in water waste if conventional sprinkler systems were replaced by micro-irrigation (drip irrigation), which delivers water directly to plant roots (STEM Writer, 2022). 20%: EU’s land and sea areas to be made subject to restoration measures by 2030, with measures in place for all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050 (European Council, 2023) $2 billion: investment by AFR100 in African organizations, businesses and government-led projects, announced this year with further anticipated investments of $15 billion to foster the restoration of 20 million hectares of land by 2026, generating an estimated $135 billion in benefits to around 40 million people. (Hess, 2021) 6: Riparian countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali and Togo) participating in the Volta basin Flood and Drought management project, the first large-scale, transboundary implementation of Integrated Flood and Drought Management strategies, including an End-to-End Early Warning System for Flood Forecasting and Drought Prediction (Deltares, 2023) ~45%: global disaster-related losses that were insured in 2020, up from 40% in 1980-2018. However, disaster insurance cover remains very low in many developing countries (UNDRR, 2022) 50 km: the resolution of the water distribution maps thanks to a recently-developed method of combining satellite measurements with high-resolution meteorological data, an major improvement from the previous 300 kilometers resolution (Gerdener et al., 2023) The report was unveiled at a high-level event with the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA) in Dubai (webcast at www.youtube.com/@THEUNCCD, 16:00 Dubai time / 12:00 GMT.  It is part of UNCCD’s series of Land and Drought Dialogues at COP28: https://bit.ly/3Gh7GZd).  Launched by the leaders of Spain and Senegal at COP27, IDRA is the first global coalition creating political momentum and mobilizing financial and technical resources for a drought-resilient future. Australia, Colombia, Italy and the Union of Comoros, together with the Commonwealth Secretariat and other major international organizations, are being announced at COP28 as IDRA’s latest members, bringing the Alliance’s total membership to 34 countries and 28 entities. Additional highlights from the report: Several findings in this report highlight land restoration, sustainable land management and nature positive agricultural practices as critical aspects of building global drought resilience. By adopting nature-positive farming techniques, such as drought-resistant crops, efficient irrigation methods, no-till and other soil conservation practices, farmers can reduce the impact of drought on their crops and incomes. Efficient water management is another key component of global drought resilience. This includes investing in sustainable water supply systems, conservation measures and the promotion of water-efficient technologies. Disaster preparedness and early warning systems are also essential for global drought resilience. Investing in meteorological monitoring, data collection and risk assessment tools can help respond quickly to drought emergencies and minimize impacts.  Building global drought resilience requires international cooperation, knowledge sharing as well as environmental and social justice. “Several countries already experience climate-change-induced famine,” says the report. “Forced migration surges globally; violent water conflicts are on the rise; the ecological base that enables all life on earth is eroding more quickly than at any time in known human history.” “We have no alternative to moving forward in a way that respects the planet’s boundaries and the interdependencies of all forms of life. We need to reach binding global agreements for proactive measures that are to be taken by nations to curtail the spells of drought.” “The less space the developed human world occupies, the more natural hydrological cycles will stay intact. Restoring, rebuilding and revitalizing all those landscapes that we degraded and destroyed is the imperative of our time. Urban intensification, active family planning, and curbing rapid population growth are prerequisites for societal development that respects planetary boundaries.” About  The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is an international agreement on good land stewardship. It helps people, communities and countries create wealth, grow economies and secure enough food, clean water and energy by ensuring land users an enabling environment for sustainable land management. Through partnerships, the Convention’s 197 parties set up robust systems to manage drought promptly and effectively. Good land stewardship based on sound policy and science helps integrate and accelerate achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, builds resilience to climate change and prevents biodiversity loss. 

Drought data shows “an unprecedented emergency on a planetary scale”: UN
UNCCD and partners to host first-ever Land and Drought Pavilion at COP28

Land & Drought Pavilion to be set in the Blue Zone / Opportunities Petal from 1-10 December Bonn (Germany), 23/11/2023 – To mark their presence at the UN Climate Conference (COP28), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will be co-hosting the first-ever Land & Drought Pavilion together with its two flagship initiatives: the G20 Global Land Initiative and the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA), as well as partners, the Arab Gulf Programme for Development (AGFUND) and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA). From 1st to 10th December, the Pavilion will curate a broad range of high-level dialogues, innovation showcase sessions, and interactive discussions highlighting the importance of healthy land as a climate solution and the urgent need to build drought resilience. UNCCD will also be launching its Drought in Numbers 2023 report and announcing next year’s Desertification and Drought Day– which will mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention. All sessions will be open to accredited COP28 delegates and held in the Blue Zone / Opportunities Petal, Thematic Arena 4, 1st floor, stand 205 and livestreamed on UNCCD’s YouTube and Facebook channels. Among the highlights of the programme: The Opening Dialogue, Raising Land & Drought on the Climate Agenda on 1 December will convene partners and experts to discuss expected outcomes from land and drought conversations at COP28. The high-level event of the International Drought Resilience Alliance co-chaired by Spain and Senegal leaders on 1 December will see the launch of Drought in Numbers 2023 report. IDRA will also welcome new member countries and update on progress achieved thus far. A high-level event “Rio Conventions on the Road to 2024” will bring together the leadership of the three Rio Conventions: CBD, UNFCCC and UNCCD. A high-level dialogue on women’s land rights will be hosted on 4th December, which will also coincide with Gender Equality Day at COP28. On 6th December, several start-ups will gather in the Pavilion to showcase their land restoration innovations, in a hackathon format. A high-level session will take place on 9th December, where the Convention will announce the host country of the next Desertification and Drought Day, 17 June 2024. Remarks from high-level representatives from the host country and city are expected. Youth-led dialogues, including panels on empowering female ecopreneurship and a Youth4Land Intergenerational Dialogue. A ‘Dry delights reception’ will be hosted on the last day of the Pavilion (10th December). Experts will showcase drought-resilient foods, namely water lentils, explaining the production process, walking attendees through its nutritional benefits, and providing an opportunity to taste. Notes to Editors The detailed programme and timings can be found here: https://unccd.int/cop28pavilion Daily highlights from the sessions will be available on UNCCD’s website. Visual assets are available here: https://trello.com/b/6EexwgYj/unccd-cop28-dubai-2023 For additional information on UNCCD’s presence at COP28 and other media-related enquiries, please contact press@unccd.int and/or unccd@portland-communications.com 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.

UNCCD and partners to host first-ever Land and Drought Pavilion at COP28
Healthy land crucial for global climate, security and prosperity

Samarkand, 17 November 2023 – Halting and reversing rapid land loss around the world is key for addressing global challenges of climate change, food and water security, and forced migration, concluded the five-day conference of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The 21st session of the Committee to Review the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC21) was hosted by the Government of Uzbekistan in Samarkand from 13-17 November, bringing together some 1,000 delegates from 117 countries representing governments, civil society and academia. The meeting marked a halfway checkpoint towards reaching the global goal to end land loss by 2030. It also focused on tackling worsening sand and dust storms and droughts, in the region and beyond, and empowering women in land restoration efforts. UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said: “Land degradation and drought are disruptors, wreaking havoc on societies and people’s lives, and throwing millions on the dangerous roads of migration. We must urgently scale up investment in land restoration to ensure stability and prosperity for billions of people around the world.” The meeting convened against the backdrop of new UNCCD data collected from 126 countries, indicating that some 420 million hectares, an area roughly the size of Central Asia, were degraded between 2015-2019. If current trends persist, a staggering 1.5 billion hectares of land will need to be restored by 2030 to reach global goals. Commenting on the outcomes of CRIC21, Biljana Kilibarda, CRIC Chair, said: “Convening for the first time in Central Asia, this meeting was an opportunity to put stronger emphasis on the relevance of problems of land degradation and drought to the whole region and the role of international cooperation in solving them. We reviewed the progress in the implementation of the Convention and provided recommendations to accelerate our efforts.” On 15 November, the Government of Uzbekistan convened a high-level event on sand and dust storms. According to UNCCD experts, more than 2 billion tonnes of sand and dust enter the atmosphere every year, with far-reaching implications for economies, human health, and even security. Obidjon Kudratov, First Deputy Minister of Ecology, Environmental Protection and Climate Change of Uzbekistan, commented: “This high-level event brought recognition of sand and dust storms as a global problem.” He also noted that the Central Asian region is losing US$ 6 billion a year to land degradation. For the first time, a two-part Gender Caucus convened during CRIC to advance the implementation of the Convention’s Gender Action Plan, and bolster women’s engagement in land restoration and drought resilience efforts. CRIC21 recommendations will inform decision-making by the Convention’s 196 country Parties and the European Union ahead of the next UNCCD Conference of the Parties (COP), to be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in December 2024. UNCCD is one of three Conventions originated at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro alongside climate change (UNFCCC) and biodiversity (CBD). CRIC21 convened just under two weeks before the start of the UNFCCC COP28 in Dubai, UAE. “We are in a vicious circle, where land degradation is fueling climate change and climate change is exacerbating land loss in the world. Our message to COP28 is clear: we are only resilient to climate change as our land is,” concluded Thiaw.   Notes to editors For interviews and enquires please contact: press@unccd.int and/or unccd@portland-communications.com More information about the 21st session of the UNCCD Committee on the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC21): https://www.unccd.int/cric21 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.

Healthy land crucial for global climate, security and prosperity
CRIC21 opening remarks by UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw

Prime Minister Abdulla Nigmatovich Aripov, Your Excellency Mr. Aziz Abdukhakimov, Minister of Ecology, Environmental Protection and Climate Change, Madame Biljana Kilibarda, Chair of the Committee of the Review of Implementation of the Convention (CRIC) Honorable Delegates, Representatives of International Organizations Representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations, Observers,   Ladies and Gentlemen, What a pleasure to be back in beautiful Samarkand. I would like to thank the Government and the people of Uzbekistan for their hospitality and the legendary generosity. It is not by chance that Samarkand -- one of the oldest inhabited cities in Central Asia -- is inscribed in the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage list. Samarkand is distinguished for being the ‘Crossroads of cultures’. As there is no culture without nature, this city will also be, for the better part of the next ten days, one of the centers of the world. A center where the 197 Parties to the UN Convention dealing with Land and Drought are gathered to measure the pulse of the planet. Time to assess how much of our land we have degraded, how much of our economy we have destroyed, knowingly or unknowingly; willingly or unwillingly. Time to appreciate how sustainable -- or rather unsustainable -- our lifestyle is.   Time to check how much of our children’s reserves and shares we are eating. How much of our grandchildren’s future we are jeopardizing, by over-harvesting and over-exploiting our natural capital. More often than not, we do this for greed. Not for absolute need. Being in Samarkand, we are reminded that civilizations before us left us with the food, the fiber, the water on which we all so much depend on! But being in Uzbekistan is also a reminder of how much we have destroyed nature, in the name of progress. In the name of development and in the quest of prosperity. We have inflicted the ugliest scars on the face of the Earth. One such environmental disaster is found here, in the Aral Sea. This once so large a freshwater body that we misnamed as sea, is now partially filled with sand dunes. A tragedy that unfolded in just one generation. I am very much looking forward to visiting the Aral area to also witness the Herculean tasks undertaken to mitigate the environmental risks associated with the diversion and over-harvesting of the water. Samarkand will go down in the annals of the Convention as the place where a crucial meeting was organized and served as a steppingstone between COP15 in Abidjan and COP16 in Riyadh. As we navigate through the five ambitious days ahead, your deliberations in Samarkand will be foundational for the success of the upcoming COP in Riyadh in December next year. From the agenda of CRIC 21, allow me to single out two items: the new dashboard on land degradation, thanks to your reports and data collected from 126 countries. For the first time in the history of the Convention, we have trends on both land loss and land remediation, as reported by our Parties. While this work is still to be perfected, the early indications give us chilling numbers: at least 100 million ha of land are degraded every year. We call upon all Parties to the Convention to contribute to the next report as this database can potentially serve as a world reference on land loss and land restoration. Additionally, we will hear from two intergovernmental working groups, namely the Group on the Mid-term review and the team working on Drought. Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, As you know, issues of land degradation and drought resilience have gained an unprecedented momentum over the last few years. While much remains to be done, your work has never been as noticed as today. Not only in the media, but also in boardrooms and in the corridors of power. This is an indication of the growing global commitment and attention to the scourge of desertification, drought and land degradation. The world is coming to realize that these phenomena affect us all, rich and poor, though the poorest bear the brunt. But this increased awareness is coupled with a significant increase of workload from your Secretariat. Our personnel feel the need of doing more, and they are doing much more. But with much less. Over the last ten years, our budget has stagnated in euro numbers. In reality, by value terms, the budget has been drastically reduced considering the important rise in the cost of living. An analysis and a budget proposal will be made to the next COP. Finally, allow me to say how proud I am to have such a talented staff from the Secretariat and the Global Mechanism. Please join me in expressing my gratitude to all for their hard work. Ladies and gentlemen, We could not have a better host for this CRIC session. We could not be in better conditions to deliver a successful session. Your deliberations and guidance, in this magnificent hall, will -- by and large -- be the foundation upon which millions of people from around the world will have access to healthy land and live on a healthy planet. Your deliberations will shape the future of the unborn. What direction do you want to point them in? The direction of a healthy environment, as we have inherited from our ancestors; or the direction of a miserable life that, unless we change gears, we are likely to live to our offspring. The future is now. It is literally in our hands. Thank you.  

CRIC21 opening remarks by UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw
Message to UNCCD CRIC21 from UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 13 November, 2023 Leaders have made a promise to the world: to combat the terrible trend of transforming healthy land into desert; to revitalize areas humanity has pushed into degradation and decay; and to create a world that is land degradation neutral. Keeping these promises is vital for nature, and for communities. But we are moving in the wrong direction. Between 2015 and 2019, 100 million hectares were degraded every single year, adding up to an area twice the size of Greenland. If current trends continue, we will need to restore the health of a staggering 1.5 billion hectares of degraded land by 2030. We can and must turn this around. Around the world we see examples of land being given a new lease of life, including in Uzbekistan. And the world could surpass its neutrality target if it works together to halt new land degradation and accelerate restoration. To achieve this, we need governments, businesses and communities to work together to conserve natural areas, scale up sustainable food production, and develop green urban areas and supply chains. I urge all of you to use this intersessional meeting to step up ambition and action to help make that a reality. Together, let’s see degraded lands thrive once more.

Message to UNCCD CRIC21 from UN Secretary-General António Guterres