UNCCD unveils new guidance on land degradation and drought reporting

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Bonn, 29 September 2021 – Two new guidance documents have been released today: a revised and upgraded version of Good Practice Guidance for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator 15.3.1 and new Good Practice Guidance for national reporting on UNCCD strategic objective 3.

These guidances add to the body of knowledge and expertise available to the Parties for the 2022 UNCCD reporting process, to be launched in early November 2021. They will help the Parties tracking their progress in addressing land degradation and in mitigating, adapting to, and managing the effects of drought.

Version 2 of the Good Practice Guidance for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator 15.3.1 informs the work of Parties, particularly on monitoring and understanding the status of land cover, land productivity and soil organic carbon stocks using Earth observation data. These are the three major variables used to measure SDG indicator 15.3.1 - Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area.  The new version is more advanced in the analytical methods for calculating the Indicator, and reflects current best practice, data and knowledge. Originally published in 2017, this guidance has been rapidly adopted by country Parties. In 2018, 127 country Parties were able to report information on SDG indicator 15.3.1 showing that about one fifth of the Earth’s land area (more than 2 billion hectares) is degraded. This rapid uptake was due in part to a close collaboration between the UNCCD, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), which produced the guidance for the UNCCD, and Conservation International, which made data and models accessible through an open-source software product called Trends.Earth. This highly collaborative approach is continuing today under the auspices of the Group on Earth Observation Land Degradation Neutrality (GEO LDN) Initiative.

The new Good Practice Guidance for national reporting on UNCCD strategic objective 3 supports Parties to report on the hazard posed by drought, the population exposed to drought and the vulnerability of those exposed to harm. These are the three fundamental components of drought risk, and each is represented by an indicator in the monitoring framework adopted by Parties in decision 11.COP.14. This Guidance is consistent with international standards and relevant resolutions of the World Meteorological Organization. It balances state-of-the-art methodologies and data availability with the need for relative simplicity and global applicability. Through this Guidance, the UNCCD aims to improve collaboration among global drought monitoring efforts within all relevant intergovernmental mechanisms, without replacing the approaches and level of granularity needed to monitor drought at the national and local levels.