World-renowned musicians release a song to inspire actions to reverse the failing health of the land

Press Release

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Bonn, 2 December 2019 –  The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and UNCCD Land Ambassador Ricky Kej are pleased to announce the release of the official music video titled Born from the Land. Award-winning musicians Ricky Kej and Baaba Maal, another UNCCD Land Ambassador, perform the song, which also features Lonnie Park and IP Singh.

The brand-new music video, whose lyrics are available in the six United Nations’ languages, will be distributed worldwide through social media and various music platforms on 5 December 2019, World Soil Day.

The music video was recorded in India, a few days before the song was premiered at the UNCCD’s biennial global conference held in September 2019, in New Delhi, India.

Ricky Kej, who is known internationally as a music composer, a No.1 artist on the United States Billboard chart and a Grammy Award winner for his album titled, Winds of Samsara, is passionate about raising awareness and environmental consciousness. He advocates for the land and nature-based solutions as fundamental to actions that, at once, help fight climate change and biodiversity loss while delivering the Sustainable Development Goals.

Baaba Maal, also a world-renowned musician from Africa, lent his unique voice to the soundtrack of the international blockbuster Black Panther, which won an Oscar and a Grammy Award for its music score. For over 15 years, he has been active in various development challenges in Africa.

“We are truly delighted that Ricky Kej and Baaba Maal, are dedicating this song to creating awareness about the value of healthy land. They show that for the sake of present and future generations, we all can – and should – use every resource we have to halt and reverse the ongoing loss of productive land. The song, in praise of the benefits of healthy land, is inspiring. I hope it re-casts our views about the ground beneath our feet and motivates everyone to take action to nurture it,” says Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary.

“We will work closely with our Land Ambassadors to move crucial issues about better land stewardship into public conversations in order to inspire individuals, businesses, civil society, and decision-makers to take radical actions that will ensure the amount of productive land we had in 2015 remains stable out to 2030 and beyond,” Thiaw adds.

"There is a sense of excitement and joy when musicians come together for the cause of environmental consciousness. In this case, it was a time of coming together for our land. I had the absolute pleasure of working with some of the best musicians in the making of the official UNCCD land anthem Born from the Land…” says Ricky Kej.

“I am an international artist of African descent. The fight against desertification is part of my commitment to the cause of development, especially the reforestation I have been doing with the people in my country (Senegal) for several years. My participation in the song Born from the Land, resonates with my musical work ‘Lekki’, which means the Tree, and that I interpreted during COP 14. It is therefore a pleasure to invest myself with Ricky Kej in this project for the environment, especially the fight against desertification that spares no continent,” said Baaba Maal.

The official release of the song and video will take place on World Soil Day as a reminder that soil is a vital part of the land that is the basis for human health and livelihoods, and our economic, cultural and spiritual well-being.

Today, more than a quarter of previously productive land, globally, is degraded, and most of this degradation has occurred over the last 50 years. Although countries affected by land degradation are taking actions to reverse these trends, the active engagement of the global public is lagging.

You can download a promo video here.



The UNCCD is an international agreement on good land stewardship. It helps people, communities and countries to create wealth, grow economies and secure enough food and water and energy, by ensuring land users have 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 a sound policy and science helps integrate and accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, builds resilience to climate change and prevents biodiversity loss.