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As the international cooperation to address the growing threat of drought projected to affect over ¾ of the world population by 2050 gains momentum, the recent workshop in Istanbul on building negotiation skills and developing action plans became a fitting tribute to the successes of the Ankara Initiative that supported capacity-building under the UNCCD for many years. In his message to the participants, UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw remarked that the support provided by the Government of Türkiye since 2016 resulted in key contributions to national policy recommendations on issues such as land tenure, gender equality and land degradation neutrality (LDN). As an arid and semi-arid country that made outstanding progress in land rehabilitation and restoration, Turkiye has been uniquely positioned to share its experience, providing a number of capacity-building and knowledge-sharing initiatives for UNCCD Parties working toward achieving LDN. The General Manager of Combating Desertification and Erosion Nurettin Taş presented a decision support system developed by Türkiye to realize the national LDN targets and confirmed the country’s commitment to sharing its expertise with other countries facing desertification, land degradation and drought. The practical part of the workshop for over 30 Parties from Africa and CEE included interactive trainings on building the knowledge base and developing an effective skill set for multilateral negotiations on drought resilience and LDN implementation, which will be an important asset for national delegates at the UNCCD CRIC21 in October 2023 and the COP16 in 2024.
Land degradation is one of the key triggers of migration in Central Asia, confirms a new study released by UNCCD this month. In the region where drought and desertification cause annual losses of about USD 6 billion, the number of people who migrate each year in search of work amounts to 2.5–4.3 million, or 10-15% of the economically active population. The findings of the study became the focus of an online discussion hosted by the convention, inviting authors and contributors from Central Asia, representatives of partner organizations and over 100 virtual attendees who could contribute to the discussion via an online chat. Remarking on the timeliness of the new study, the UNCCD Chief of Global Policy Advocacy and Regional Cooperation Unit Miriam Medel García emphasized that the project has been requested by the countries of Central Asia – Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – to aid in the implementation of the Convention and to demonstrate how measures addressing desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) can support more positive and organized migration flows. Expressing sincere appreciation for the support of the Russian Federation in financing the study, Ms. Medel remarked that its conclusions and policy recommendations, while specifically targeted in Central Asia, are also applicable to any country seeking to overcome the challenges of DLDD by creating safely nets for vulnerable rural populations through land-based green growth and sustainable value chains. Welcoming the study, the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia Vladimir Uskov remarked on the key role of UNCCD as the leading international mechanism for addressing DLDD – the issue that affects the entire region and needs to be addressed at the regional level. He noted that the study helps better understand the complex relationships between many factors that contribute to land degradation, climate change and migration in Central Asia. He expressed hope that the study will also contribute to the work of the interregional group launched at UNCCD COP14 to facilitate the implementation of the Convention, and confirmed the willingness of the Russian Federation to further contribute support and scientific expertise. In their detailed presentations, the authors of the study called attention to land degradation as a “quiet” planetary crisis, whose effects are devastating and wide-spread. Using latest land degradation assessment tools authored by the UNCCD, they identified the main hot spots of land and water crises in the region. As climate change manifests itself through more frequent and prolonged droughts, combined with anthropogenic pressures, the resulting decrease in land productivity and loss of income leads to migration in search of livelihood. The study highlights that while the economies of both the source and receiving countries rely on migrant workers, the income of migrants remains highly vulnerable, as became evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, money earned by migrants does not support future security – 98% of what migrants earn is spent on everyday expenses, with almost nothing into savings or investments, not to mention the practices of sustainable land use. Both representatives of the Central Asian countries and international organizations – IOM, FAO, UNDP and CAREC – that provided extensive inputs into the study, also stressed the need for further scientific collaboration for knowledge sharing on sustainable land management. The new study reveals that the widespread adoption of effective land use approaches that already exist across the region depends on creating financing opportunities for farmers and improving knowledge-sharing. Long-term investments are needed to fundamentally improve the state of agricultural land and to make agricultural work more attractive, particularly to youth, through development and implementation of sustainable land use models and land-based climate adaptation technologies that require advanced skills and higher levels of education. To ensure that the results of the study have a real impact, helping improve living standards and productivity in the agricultural sector while regulating migration, the authors proposed further research, where sustainable land management practices in the region would be assessed using a variety of efficiency indicators, such as the size of the restored land area, water and energy efficiency, social satisfaction, gender equity and improved living standards. The authors believe that the main criterion of resilience and effectiveness of each model of sustainable land use, especially under the conditions of climate change, should be the potential to achieve land degradation neutrality.
Bonn, Germany, 10 February 2023 – Today, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Korea Forest Service of the Republic of Korea signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to further support Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN). Welcoming the new agreement, UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said: “I take this opportunity to thank Korea Forest Service and the Republic of Korea for their leadership and commitment to the work of the UNCCD in restoring balance with nature and advancing the global target of net zero land loss. Your continued political and financial support through the Changwon Initiative will be essential for consolidating partnerships and accelerating the achievement of a land-degradation neutral world.” Speaking at the signing ceremony, Sang Seop Lim, Deputy Minister of the Korea Forest Service, commented: “I hope that we will not only expand cooperation but also deliver greater results and that thereby we will be able to develop a strong partnership and best practices that will benefit the international community.” The Changwon Initiative, which was a major outcome of UNCCD COP10 that took place in the Republic of Korea in 2011, has inspired and catalyzed the global target of “a land-degradation neutral world” enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals. Activities supported through the initiative turned the vision of LDN into a concrete concept known as the "net zero land loss” to stabilize the quantity and quality of land resources and the ecosystems it supports. The Changwon Initiative has been an important success factor for some of the most significant results achieved by the UNCCD over the past decade. The second phase of the Initiative focuses on enhancing the scientific process to support the Convention’s implementation, promoting partnerships at all levels to improve livelihoods of affected populations, addressing sub-regional and regional challenges through land restoration and reforestation, and promoting synergies with other relevant conventions and international organizations. The Changwon Initiative continued support for the LDN Target-Setting Programme is helping countries set their voluntary national LDN targets and define measures for achieving them. To date, some 130 countries have joined the programme and more than 100 of those have already committed themselves not to degrade more land than they restore. The Initiative’s contribution has also been essential to the secretariat’s work on sand and dust storms (SDS), with a number of knowledge and guidance products launched to date: the SDS Compendium and the Global SDS Source Base-Map. Connecting researchers and policymakers through the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface, the Initiative has been key to providing a strong scientific foundation to the development of policy decisions and ensuring that the latest knowledge on drought and land restoration are reflected in national policies. This expert guidance, packaged in the Global Land Outlook, as well as its regional and thematic editions, delivers relevant and current information to practitioners and policymakers, enabling UNCCD Parties to effectively plan, implement and monitor their commitments to healthy land. Showcasing good practices in sustainable land management is another key objective for the Changwon Initiative. For over ten years, the Land for Life Award has brought to light over 20 outstanding projects in more than a dozen countries worldwide, proving that land restoration can be an effective solution to climate change and biodiversity loss while contributing to job creation and food security. The ongoing support through the Changwon Initiative toward action-oriented UNCCD programmes will enable the Convention to continue and scale up its efforts to provide collaborative and evidence-based support to country Parties who strive to end land degradation and safeguard land resources. For more information, contact: UNCCD: Ms. Xenya Scanlon Chief, Communications, External Relations and Partnerships T: +49 152 5454 0492 E: firstname.lastname@example.org About 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 to provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people in an equitable and inclusive manner. https://www.unccd.int/ The Korea Forest Service (KFS) is an independent agency specializing in forestry that is overseen by the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of the Republic of Korea. The KFS has the overall responsibility for establishment and implementation of forest policies and laws and delivers projects based on rehabilitation technologies in collaboration between the government and the private sector. The agency is actively involved with all three UN Rio Conventions: UNCCD, CBD and UNFCCC, contributing to global environmental issues. To take the leading role in both bilateral and regional cooperation for mitigating desertification and drought, the KFS is promoting closer cooperation through bilateral forestry cooperation arrangements and establishment of the Northeast Asia Forest Network. https://www.forest.go.kr/
Land degradation, one of the world’s most pressing environmental problems affects 16.5 percent of the land in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), according to the latest UNCCD baseline assessment; equivalent to one out of every eight acres or hectares of the land in the region. From 6 to 9 December 2022, Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the countries in the region, hosted a workshop to consider actions to take to avoid, reduce and reverse the land degradation, and to increase the area to be restored. Most CEE countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, participate in the drought initiative that is helping countries to be better prepared for droughts and have set their targets for restoring degraded lands. However, more restoration commitments above the current 13.5 million hectares, or 5% of the total degraded area, are needed to to reverse the ecosystem degradation and loss forests, croplands, grasslands, and peatlands in the region. The Workshop explored how to restore 350 million hectares of land degraded landscapes. The workshop participants, drawn mostly from countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the UNCCD and agencies that the Global Environment Facility (GEF) finances to help countries to carry out the desired actions discussed a new GEF programming cycle, known as “Healthy planet, healthy soils,” which offers countries the possibility to deliver on their environmental and climate agendas. The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) is a financing instrument of the UNCCD and the largest environmental multi-donor trust fund. It contributes directly to the goals of the Convention through targeted financial and technical support to the countries which seek to meet the objectives of the UNCCD, and other international environmental agreements. Senad Oprašić, Head of Environmental Protection Department at Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which hosted the workshop spoke about the importance of tackling environmental challenges with the help of existing climate financial mechanisms. Bosnia and Herzegovina committed to revitalize 100,000 hectares of abandoned land as a part of its LDN target-setting process, according to the Global Land Outlook’s second edition of the Central and Eastern European Thematic Report. Ms. Nadezda Dementieva and Ms. Munazza Jaleel Naqvi, on behalf of the UNCCD, stressed that investing in land restoration as a win-win solution for the environment, the economy and people to combat desertification, climate change and loss of biodiversity. They encouraged participants to work closely with the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD (GM), which assists countries to mobilize substantial resources to implement agreements under the Convention. The GM helps Parties to translate their voluntary LDN targets and national drought plans into concrete actions on the ground, including developing gender-responsive transformative projects and programmes that generate multiple benefits. The GM also drew attention to upcoming events relevant to the work under consideration, more specifically, the 21st session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC21) that will take place in October 2023 in Uzbekistan and the 16th session of the Convention’s Conference of the Parties to be held in 2024 in Saudi Arabia.
UNCCD welcomes a major step taken by India in using the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to fund work to reverse land degradation in all its states.
Gender equality is a key entry-point for Sustainable Land Management (SLM) and UNCCD together with WOCAT are working to improve gender-responsiveness of SLM practices. Direct and indirect gender-related barriers prevent women from adopting SLM practices. These barriers include land tenure insecurity; land availability; education or literacy levels; access to seeds, fertilizers, or extension services; and access to technologies and financing. As a result, women adopt SLM technologies at a rate that is typically lower and slower than that of men. In line with the UNCCD Gender Action Plan (GAP) and guided by the idea to build back better, the aim of this UNCCD-WOCAT project is to: Add a gender lens to SLM technologies and appraoches and assess their gender-responsiveness Evaluate how gender-responsiveness of SLM Technologies and Approaches can be improved, stepping up adoption and dissemination, making SLM beneficial for women and men alike. This will support project planners, designers and implementers to identify, realize and scale gender-responsive SLM Technologies and Approaches within the framework of LD/SLM and LDN projects and programmes as well as promote the implementation of gender-responsive SLM practices in the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. Phase 1: Development of Gender-responsive SLM tool In the first phase, WOCAT and UNCCD designed a tool that helps to test the gender-responsiveness of SLM Technologies and Approaches and to identify areas of improvement to support project planners, designers, and implementers in their effort to scale up SLM Technologies and Approaches that are gender-responsive. The gender-responsive SLM tool was reviewed during a UNCCD-WOCAT consultation workshop with experts from different organizations and regions, resulting in the fine-tuning of the tool. Currently, the tool is being tested with WOCAT network partners in more than 10 countries around the globe, supporting it further refinement and facilitating a first round of data collection. Data will be analysed and presented in the form of SLM Gender Profiles, showcasing women and men's involvement in different SLM Technologies and providing insights and recommendations on the improvement of SLM Technologies and related Approaches in view of gender equality and women empowerment. Phase 2: New gender module added to WOCAT Database (start mid-2022) The Global WOCAT SLM Database will be enhanced with a new “gender module”, i.e. the gender-responsive SLM tool will be integrated into the Database. This will allow: An online assessment of the gender-responsiveness of SLM Technologies and Approaches; and The search for gender-responsive SLM Technologies and Approaches. The gender module will be promoted and disseminated and interested partners and institutions trained in its application.