UNCCD receives global award for work in assessment of land degradation


Bonn, Germany – The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) today received the 2020 SDG Custodian Agency award of the Group on Earth Observations Sustainable Development Goals (GEO SDG) Awards.  

The award recognizes the Convention’s efforts in helping to build national capacities and to support the provision and use of Earth observations to monitor and report progress in the proportion of land that is degraded over total land area, Sustainable Development Goals Indicator 15.3.1.

More than 300 representatives from 140 countries have benefitted from UNCCD’s capacity development support, which led to the release of the first global assessment of land degradation in 2019, following 123 country submissions and 40 estimates derived from global EO data sources. 
GEO SDG Awards launched in 2019 recognize the productivity, innovation, novelty, and exemplary efforts by institutions, organizations and countries in the use of Earth observations to support the global goals of the United Nations. UNCCD received the special category, SDG Custodian Agency award. 

Johns Muleso Kharika, Chief of the UNCCD Science, Technology and Innovation Unit, received the award on behalf of the UNCCD at the ceremony held during the virtual GEO Week 2020.

“When we started this journey in 2017,” he said, “there was no internationally agreed methodology for monitoring and reporting on land degradation, let alone country data.  SDG Indicator 15.3.1 was at the lowest level of classification in the SDG Indicator framework.”

“In less than three years, it has been upgraded to the highest level. This could only be achieved through a highly collaborative approach with a wide range of partners,” he added.

UNCCD, as Custodian Agency for SDG Indicator 15.3.1, “proportion of land that is degraded over total land area”, ensures high quality and accuracy in global reporting on progress towards SDG 15 “Life on Land” and, and its target 15.3 in particular.

To facilitate reporting, the UNCCD has made available to all 196 countries signatory to the Convention national estimates of land degradation derived from available global data of land cover, land productivity and soil organic carbon stocks. 

Last year, the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and Conservation International also won special category awards for work related to this SDG Indicator. CSIRO for developing a new methodological guidance and Conservation International for developing a new data analytics tool call Trends.Earth to monitor SDG Indicator 15.3.1.  

For more information contact: sminelli@unccd.int

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