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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: email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Two billion tons of sand and dust, equal in weight to 350 Great Pyramids of Giza, enter the atmosphere every year; UNCCD experts attribute over 25% of the problem to human activities Wreaks havoc from Northern and Central Asia to sub-Saharan Africa; Health impacts poorly understood Sand and dust storms are an underappreciated problem now “dramatically” more frequent in some places worldwide, with at least 25% of the phenomenon attributed to human activities, according to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Accompanied by policy recommendations, the warning comes as a five-day meeting takes place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan to take stock of global progress in the Convention’s implementation. The 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). The meeting, 13-17 November (https://www.unccd.int/cric21), includes a high-level session on 15 November hosted by the Government of Uzbekistan on ways to address the impacts of sand and dust storms on global agriculture, industry, transportation, water and air quality, and human health. Says Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD’s Executive Secretary: “The sight of rolling dark clouds of sand and dust engulfing everything in their path and turning day into night is one of nature’s most intimidating spectacles. It is a costly phenomenon that wreaks havoc everywhere from Northern and Central Asia to sub-Saharan Africa.” “Sand and dust storms present a formidable challenge to achieving sustainable development. However, just as sand and dust storms are exacerbated by human activities, they can also be reduced through human actions,” adds Thiaw. While sand and dust storms (SDS) are a regionally common and seasonal natural phenomenon, the problem is exacerbated by poor land and water management, droughts, and climate change, according to UNCCD experts. And fluctuations in their intensity, magnitude, or duration “can make SDS unpredictable and dangerous.” With impacts far beyond the source regions, an estimated 2 billion tons of sand and dust now enters the atmosphere every year, an amount equal in weight to 350 Great Pyramids of Giza. In some areas, desert dust doubled in the last century. “Sand and dust storms (SDS) have become increasingly frequent and severe having substantial transboundary impacts, affecting various aspects of the environment, climate, health, agriculture, livelihoods and the socioeconomic well-being of individuals. The accumulation of impacts from sand and dust storms can be significant,” says Feras Ziadat, Technical Officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), Chair of the UN Coalition on Combating Sand and Dust Storms. “In source areas, they damage crops, affect livestock, and strip topsoil. In depositional areas atmospheric dust, especially in combination with local industrial pollution, can cause or worsen human health problems such as respiratory diseases. Communications, power generation, transport, and supply chains can also be disrupted by low visibility and dust-induced mechanical failures. The United Nations Coalition on Combating Sand and Dust Storms, currently chaired by FAO, was created in 2019 to lead global efforts to tackle SDS.” In their Sand and Dust Storms Compendium and accompanying SDS Toolbox (https://www.unccd.int/land-and-life/sand-and-dust-storms/toolbox), UNCCD, FAO and partners offer guidance on approaches and methodologies for collecting and assessing SDS data, monitoring and early warning, impact mitigation and preparedness, and source mapping and anthropogenic source mitigation at sub-national, national, regional and global levels. The SDS discussion forms part of the agenda of this year’s meeting in Uzbekistan of the UNCCD’s Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 21) and global progress in delivering the Convention’s strategic objectives. It marks the first time since its establishment that UNCCD has convened one of its most significant meetings in Central Asia. The meeting comes at a critical juncture, as recent statistics published via UNCCD’s new data dashboard (https://data.unccd.int/) shows the world now losing nearly 1 million square kilometers of healthy and productive land every year – some 4.2 million square kilometers between 2015-2019, or roughly the combined area of five Central Asian nations: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. During the meeting (at 18:00 local time / 13:00 GMT, Tuesday 14 November) UNCCD and FAO experts will launch three reports: Sand and dust storms. A guide to mitigation, adaptation, policy and risk management measures in agriculture Contingency planning process for catalysing investments and actions to enhance resilience against sand and dust storms in agriculture in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Preparing for sand and dust storm contingency planning with herding communities: a case study on Mongolia Other items on the CRIC 21 agenda include promoting sustainable land management, ensuring fair land rights for women, and tackling droughts and wildfires exacerbated by climate change and environmental degradation. * * * * * Background: Sand and dust storms Sand and dust storms (SDS) are known by many local names: the sirocco, haboob, yellow dust, white storms, or the harmattan. While SDS can fertilize both land and marine ecosystems, they also present a range of hazards to human health, livelihoods and the environment. SDS events typically originate in low-latitude drylands and sub-humid areas where vegetation cover is sparse or absent. They can also occur in other environments, including agricultural and high-latitude areas in humid regions, when specific wind and atmospheric conditions coincide. SDS events can have substantial transboundary impacts, over thousands of kilometers. Unified and coherent global and regional policy responses are needed, especially to address source mitigation, early warning systems, and monitoring. SDS often have significant economic impacts: for example, they cost the oil sector in Kuwait an estimated US$ 190 million annually, while a single SDS event in 2009 resulted in damage estimated at US$ 229 - 243 million in Australia. The major global sources of mineral dust are in the northern hemisphere across North Africa, the Middle East and East Asia. In the southern hemisphere, Australia, South America and Southern Africa are the main dust sources. More than 80% of Central Asia is covered by deserts and steppes which, coupled with climate change and lasting droughts, represent a major natural source of sand and dust storms. The dried-up Aral Sea is a major source of SDS, emitting more than 100 million tons of dust and poisonous salts every year, impacting the health not just of the people living in the vicinity, but far beyond and generating annual losses of US$ 44 million. Recognition of SDS as a disaster risk appears to be high in North-East Asia, parts of West Asia and North America but less prominent elsewhere. Low recognition of SDS as a disaster risk is likely due to the lack (in many cases) of significant immediate direct human fatalities or injuries from individual SDS events, and limited consolidated documentation on their long-term health, economic or other impacts. SDS and health SDS can be life-threatening for individuals with adverse health conditions. Fine dust particles are carried to high tropospheric levels (up to a few kilometres high) where winds can transport them over long distances. The health implications of SDS have been under increased investigation for decades, with most studies conducted in East Asia, Europe and the Middle East. There has been a lack of studies in West Africa. A particular focus of this research has been SDS modification of air pollution. The cause-and-effect between sand and dust in the atmosphere and health outcomes remains unclear and requires more extensive study. What can be said is that at-risk members of a population, especially those with pre-existing cardiopulmonary issues, including childhood asthma, may have a higher mortality or morbidity rate during a dust storm. SDS can also impose major costs on the agricultural sector through crop destruction or reduced yield, animal death or lower yields of milk or meat, and damage to infrastructure. For annual crops, losses are due to burial of seedlings or crops under sand deposits, loss of plant tissue and reduced photosynthetic activity as a result of sandblasting. This can lead to complete crop loss in a region or reduced yield. There may also be a longer-term effect on some perennial crops due to tree or crop damage (such as lucerne/alfalfa crowns being damaged). On a positive note, SDS dust can contain soil nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as well as organic carbon. Some places benefit from this nutrient deposition on land, and mineral and nutrient deposition on water, particularly ocean bodies. When deposited, these can provide nutrients to downwind crop or pasture areas. These limited benefits, however, are far outweighed by the harms done. Globally, the main large dust sources are dried lakes; local sources include glacial outwash plains, volcanic ash zones and recently plowed fields. The multi-faceted, cross-sectoral and transnational impacts of SDS directly affect 11 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals yet global recognition of SDS as a hazard is generally low due in part to the complexity and seasonally cumulative impact of SDS, coupled with limited data. Insufficient information and impact assessments hinder effective decision-making and planning to effectively address SDS sources and impacts. UNCCD helps governments create policies to promote the scaling-up of sustainable land management practices and to find and use the latest science to develop and implement effective mitigation policies. Working with The Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia, UNCCD assists countries vulnerable to drought and sand and dust storms in Central Asia to develop and implement risk reduction strategies at national and regional level. UNCCD encourages countries to adopt a comprehensive risk reduction strategy with monitoring and early warning systems to improve preparedness and resilience to these environmental disasters. Among the measures most needed are A multi-sectoral approach bolstered by information-sharing, short- and long-term interventions, engaging multiple stakeholders, and raising awareness of SDS. Land restoration, using soil and water management practices to protect soils and increase vegetative cover, which have been shown to significantly reduce the extent and vulnerability of source areas, and reduce the intensity of typical SDS events. Early warning and monitoring, building on up-to-date risk knowledge, and forecasting, with all stakeholders (including at-risk populations) participating to ensure that warnings are provided in a timely and targeted manner Impact mitigation, through preparedness to reduce vulnerability, increase resilience, and enables a timely, effective response to SDS events * * * * * 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. The UNCCD Secretariat led the creation of the SDS Compendium document in collaboration with the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface (SPI), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Women, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), and external experts and partners.
New UN data warns land is degrading faster than we can restore it Healthy land the size of Central Asia degraded since 2015 around the world UNCCD meets in Uzbekistan to review global progress towards ending land loss Samarkand, 13 November 2023 – At the opening of its first-ever meeting held in Central Asia, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) unveils new data showing land degradation rapidly advancing in the region and around the world. Between 2015 and 2019, the world lost at least 100 million hectares of healthy and productive land each year. This adds up to 420 million hectares, or 4.2 million square kilometres, slightly over the combined area of five Central Asian nations: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. These statistics underscore the need for urgent action, as escalating land degradation continues to destabilize markets, communities, and ecosystems around the globe. According to the latest UN data, over 20 per cent of the total land area in Central Asia is degraded, equivalent to roughly 80 million hectares, an area almost four times the size of Kyrgyzstan. This affects an estimated 30 per cent of the region’s combined population. The UNCCD Data Dashboard launch comes at a critical juncture as world leaders and experts are gathering in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, from 13-17 November 2023 for the 21st session of the UNCCD Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 21). For the first time, an open Data Dashboard compiles national reporting figures from 126 countries, allowing users to explore the trends in their own regions and countries. UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said: “The first-ever UNCCD Data Dashboard offers an eye-opening insight into rapid loss of healthy and productive land around the world, with dire consequences for billions of people. At the same time, we are seeing some ‘brightspots’—countries effectively tackling desertification, land degradation and drought. As we gather in Uzbekistan this week to review global progress towards ending land loss, the message is clear: land degradation demands immediate attention.” Land restoration ‘brightspots’ Despite a bleak global picture, there are examples of countries effectively tackling desertification, land degradation and drought. While Uzbekistan reported the highest proportion of degraded land in the Central Asia region, it also saw the largest decrease – from 30 per cent to 26 per cent – compared to 2015. A total of 3 million hectares of land in Uzbekistan have been degraded due to the drying of the Aral Sea. Between 2018-2022, Uzbekistan carried out saxaul planting on an area of 1.6 million ha to eliminate salt and dust emissions from the drained bottom of the Aral Sea. Kazakhstan increased irrigated lands by 40 per cent, expanding the total irrigated area to 2 million hectares. In Kyrgyzstan, some 120,000 hectares of pastures and forests are now under sustainable land management, including a pasture rotation system. Turkmenistan committed to restoring 160,000 hectares under its national ‘greening the desert’ initiative by 2025. Land Degradation Neutrality goal still within reach Although land degradation varies by region, UNCCD data warns that if current trends persist a staggering 1.5 billion hectares of land will need to be restored globally by 2030 to reach targets enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Barron Orr, UNCCD Chief Scientist, said: “Although global trends are going in the wrong direction, it is still possible to not only meet but exceed land degradation neutrality goals. This can be done by stopping further degradation while accelerating efforts on existing commitments to restore one billion hectares of land by 2030 with funding and action hand-in-hand.” Around the world, approximately USD$ 5 billion in bilateral and multilateral funding flowed into global efforts to combat desertification, land degradation and drought between 2016 and 2019. This helped 124 nations roll out a wide range of projects aimed at addressing these challenges. All Central Asian nations have joined the LDN target-setting programme under UNCCD, bringing the total number of participating countries to 131. Half of the LDN targets set by countries in Central Asia have already been achieved, with projects to deliver on the rest of the commitments currently underway. Notes to editors For interviews and enquires please contact: email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org To access the UNCCD’s Data Dashboard please click here: https://data.unccd.int/ For any enquires on data and methodology, please write to email@example.com. The data related to land degradation (i.e. SDG indicator 15.3.1) is compiled in global and aggregate form from 115 country reports and 52 country-estimates drawn from global data sources. For other indicators, the data is compiled in global and aggregate form "as received" from 126 Parties in their 2022 UNCCD national reports. Therefore, the facts present a partial estimate of progress at the global and regional level, in terms of the status and trends in these indicators/metrics, as not all Parties have reported all indicators. The information presented should in no way be interpreted as a comprehensive global or regional assessment of status and trends in the indicators/metrics. 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 Accredited media representatives are invited to attend and report on CRIC21 and associated events. Field visits where journalists can see land restoration and drought resilience projects will take place immediately prior to CRIC21. Online registration for media representatives is available at the following link: www.unccd.int/cric-21-online-registration. 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.
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.
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.
Media Advisory 21st Committee to Review the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC21) meeting in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 13-17 November 2023. Bonn/Samarkand, 09/11/2023 - The twenty-first session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 21) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will be held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan from 13-17 November 2023. CRIC21 will bring together an estimated 500 delegates from 196 countries and the European Union, civil society, and academia to reflect on progress in delivering the Convention’s strategic objectives. It marks the first time UNCCD convenes one of its most significant meetings in Central Asia, since its establishment. This meeting comes at a critical juncture, as recent data launched by UNCCD shows that the world is losing nearly 100 million hectares of healthy and productive land every year. If current trends continue, 1.5 billion hectares of land will need to be restored by 2030 to achieve land degradation neutrality around the globe. But, halting additional degradation and accelerating existing commitments alone could surpass the neutrality target. UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said: “Droughts, wildfires and heatwaves we have witnessed around the world are the symptoms of the deepening and interlinked climate and nature crises, with land at the heart of both. Since 2015, some 4 million square kilometres of healthy and productive lands have been lost—an area roughly the size of Central Asia. We must urgently stop further land degradation and restore at least 1 billion hectares to meet global land targets by 2030.” CRIC21 will be held at the Silk Road Samarkand Congress Centre. Parties will have the opportunity to review progress and provide recommendations towards achieving global targets to prevent and reverse land degradation, in line with the 2018-2030 UNCCD strategic and implementation frameworks. Among the highlights of the CRIC21 programme: Opening plenary on 13 November from 10:00-13:00 with introductory statements from the Chair of the CRIC, the UNCCD Executive Secretary and the representative of the Government of Uzbekistan. UNCCD Gender Caucus on 14 and 16 November from 13:00-15:00 will convene international experts to discuss women’s land rights as a prerequisite to the success of global land restoration and drought resilience efforts. A high-level political event on Sand and Dust Storms hosted by the government of Uzbekistan will be held on 15 November from 10:00-13:00. In recent years, sand and dust storms have increased in both frequency and severity in both Uzbekistan and surrounding countries. For the first time, more than 30 side events will be organized at CRIC21. These events provide the informal opportunity for parties and accredited observer organizations to exchange information and experiences on diverse issues related to the objectives of the Convention. Press briefings will be held throughout CRIC21 between 13:00-15:00 local time, including: 13 November: Focus on Central Asia: global and regional trends on desertification, land degradation and drought with UNCCD Chief Scientist, Dr Barron Orr, and Programme Officer, Science, Technology and Innovation Unit, Ms Olga Andreeva (TBC). 14 November: Her Land. Her Rights: global and regional efforts to advance women’s land rights and their engagement in land restoration and drought resilience efforts with UNCCD and regional experts (TBC). 15 November: Sand and Dust Storms: the latest data on this growing phenomenon with UNCCD and regional experts, as well as the outcomes of the high-level event hosted by the Government of Uzbekistan. 17 November: Closing press conference: an overview of the key outcomes of CRIC21 with Mr Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, Ms. Biljana Kilibarda, Chair of the CRIC, and Mr Aziz Abdukhakimov, Uzbek Minister of Ecology, Environmental Protection and Climate Change. Notes to Editors Accredited media representatives are invited to attend and report on CRIC21 and associated events. Field visits where journalists can see land restoration and drought resilience projects will take place immediately before and after CRIC21. Daily highlights of CRIC21 will be provided by the IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin: https://enb.iisd.org/unccd-committee-review-implementation-convention-cric21 Side events schedule is available here: https://www.unccd.int/sites/default/files/2023-10/Side%20Events%20CRIC21.pdf Visual assets about CRIC21 and the UNCCD Data Dashboard are available here: https://trello.com/b/zq0kxtkK/unccd-cric21-samarkand-uzb-2023 Online registration for media representatives is available at the following link: www.unccd.int/cric-21-online-registration. To register, please provide the following documents: One recent passport-sized photograph A valid press card A copy (picture and signature pages) of your passport (for foreign journalists) or national identity card (for local applicants) A letter of introduction from the bureau chief or company sponsoring your travel to the session. For freelance journalists, a letter is required from the media organization assigning you to cover the conference A duly completed accreditation form Journalists who register online will be able to collect their accreditation at the Silk Road Samarkand Congress Center on presentation of a valid press card and an identity document. For more information on the regulations governing visa applications and the introduction of reporting material into Uzbekistan, please consult the following link: https://e-visa.gov.uz/main_ For inquiries about media accreditation or coverage of the event, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org A dedicated press and media working space will be available at the conference venue. Additional information and media updates on the Convention and CRIC 21 will be available on the UNCCD website: 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.