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UNCCD and WOCAT collaborate to improve SLM gender responsiveness

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 tool added to WOCAT Database (May 2024 – June 2025) The Global WOCAT SLM Database will be enhanced with a gender-responsive SLM tool, enabling: Online assessment of the gender-responsiveness of SLM practices Search for gender-responsive SLM solutions Collection of gender-disaggregated data through a harmonized system Possibility to analyse and share gender-disaggregated data to support informed decision-making for gender equality in land management, particularly in relation to drought resilience Platform to discuss gender and land management related issues within communities Interested partners and institutions, including UNCCD Parties and CSOs, will be trained in its application to gain country-specific gender-disaggregated data on SLM practices.  Results will support the design and implementation of gender-responsive SLM projects and programmes and inform decision-makers. During the upcoming UNCCD COP16 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in December 2024, partners will present results and country insights.

UNCCD and WOCAT collaborate to improve SLM gender responsiveness
GEF 67th Council Meeting: Speech by Ibrahim Thiaw

Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Members of the GEF Council, Ibn Khaldun, the renowned Tunisian father of sociology in the Middle Ages, once said: "He who finds a new path is a pathfinder, even if the trail has to be found through the desert." We are pathfinders. Together, we are forging new and innovative trails towards sustainability and resilience, even in the most challenging environments. For many of us who have been observing this institution function and transform itself over time, the GEF is more than just a facility. It’s a family. It’s an example of what we can do together, to address global issues. An example of what we should be doing more and better. Setting clear rules of engagement while supporting -efficiently- the countries and communities in need. As far as land restoration is concerned, I am pleased to note several proposed GEF Trust Fund financing packages for large scale land restoration initiatives are being considered at this Council. We need large scale and multi-country actions to bring degraded land back to health, build resilience to drought, secure food for all, reduce tensions and conflicts and avert forced migration. Yes, Land restoration provides multiple solutions, and responds perfectly to GEF mandate: biodiversity conservation, climate change, fight against land degradation and pollution. Yet, despite the clear uptick in investments, according to all available data, we are not winning the battle and should certainly not rest on our laurels. Land degradation is ruining the global economy, destructuring the social fabric of our communities, destroying fragile ecosystems, threatening the global security. Such as a virus, land loss is attacking the most fragile communities, accentuating poverty and amplifying the impacts of climate change and biodiversity degradation. Dear Council members, While droughts by all means are not a new phenomenon, we are observing the increase and intensity of their occurrence. 29% more droughts are observed since the beginning of the new millennia. The GEF Council ought to respond to the increase demands for help. Droughts are among the most viscous disruptors of our time: droughts disrupt food, water, energy and even global supply chains, as exemplified by the disruptions created this year in the Panama Canal. GEF Council may wish to pay attention to these trends. Droughts are exacerbated by Climate Change, Ecosystem change, habitat destruction. As we all know Southern Africa is currently facing an extreme environmental and humanitarian crisis as a severe drought takes a stronger hold on the region. Eastern Africa suffered for 4 consecutive years. Many countries Latin America and Asia are hit hard. Over 100 countries, including small islands have been affected in the last years. You may be aware Senegal and Spain created the International Drought Resilience Alliance. Nearly 40 countries and over 30 organizations are working together for global drought resilience. IDRA partners are clear there is an urgent need to establish effective early warning systems (that work across borders), bolster that land-water management nexus and mobilize sustainable financing to improve drought resilience. So, since I am addressing the GEF Council, I take the opportunity to raise with you – and stress to Council Members - the urgency of investing more in land restoration and drought resilience. Separately.  And together and scale! Large scale multi country land based approaches – that deliver multiple global benefits - combined with the integrated programmes of GEF8 - represent a clear path forward. By addressing the interconnected challenges of land degradation, water scarcity, biodiversity loss and climate change, we will be achieving more comprehensive and lasting results. The recently launched Blue and Green Islands Integrated Program (BGI-IP) by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility provides a case in point. We need more. We can do more, whiting existing resources. We should much more! We are going to be working with SIDS to strengthen their regional programming and we are expecting strong participation of SIDs in our upcoming COP in Riyadh in December 2024. In the SIDS – or LIONS (Large Island Ocean States) as Carlos Manuel has started to call them, data plays a crucial role. Accurate, timely, and accessible data enables us to make informed decisions, measure progress, and adapt our strategies as needed. Investing in data collection and analysis is not just an option; it is a necessity. Vital for decision support – in the small islands, in the hyper arid areas and in the high mountains. So GEF’s investments and those of other Partners are directed where they are most needed. With this in mind, the UNCCD has recently engaged 18 “champion countries” in the Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Process 2.0 to demonstrate how countries can strengthen their LDN targets - and support better land use decisions by mainstreaming LDN into their integrated land use planning frameworks. To make better decisions - again with GEF support. All of this leads to stronger policies, improved implementation, and greater resilience. Especially in the face of drought and flood. It is a proactive approach that saves lives, protects livelihoods, and preserves our natural resources. As we look ahead to UNCCD COP 16 in Riyadh, we are filled with ambition and determination. As the main financing instrument for the Rio Conventions, we look forward to the GEF’s strong participation in our upcoming COP this year. We look forward to land and drought – not just capturing the Council’s attention.  But capturing more investment too. The UNCCD COP – from 2nd-13th of December – is an ideal opportunity to reinforce our investments in land.  And underline the critical issue of drought resilience.  COP16 will open with a Leaders Summit where Heads of State and Government, CEOs from the Private Sector and Heads of Institutions will be invited. A Ministerial Segment is also foreseen as well as large gatherings of Civil Society, Local communities and Indigenous groups. Seven Thematic Days will help design and formulate a strong action agenda, which will be an excellent leverage to the GEF. UN agencies, the WB and NGOs have agreed to play a lead role in organizing the Days. This year COP16 provides an opportunity for the GEF to showcase the results achieved to date – especially in transformative large scale change and nurturing the enabling environment – at the landscape level. This COP is not just a meeting; it will be a milestone in our journey towards a land degradation-neutral world.  I extend a warm invitation to all of the GEF family of stakeholders to join us in Riyadh from the 3rd-13th of December. Your presence and participation will be invaluable.  Though the path is not always easy – we will be blazing a trail together.

GEF 67th Council Meeting: Speech by Ibrahim Thiaw
Global call for land's sustainable future

Ten Land Heroes were announced by UNCCD at the global observance event. These young changemakers from around the world are working to restore land, boost resilience to drought, develop sustainable agricultural businesses, and harness technology and innovation to tackle global environmental challenges.  

Global call for land's sustainable future
Address to the Parliamentary Committee for Environment and Sustainable Development of the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil

Mr Chairman, Honorable members of the Committee Your excellency, Minister of Environment and Climate, Ladies and Gentlemen, On behalf of the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), I would like to thank the Committee for welcoming me today; especially, as Brazil is looking to secure productive lands and build the resilience of economic sectors, communities, and ecosystems to drought. Promoting sustainable Land management and building resilience to drought: these are the two pillars, the two reason d’être of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.   As the only global treaty dealing with land and drought, the UNCCD celebrates its 30th birthday on 17 June. Remember, it is one of the three Conventions conceived in Rio de Janeiro, at the famous 1992 Summit. After two years of gestation, the Convention was signed in Paris in 1994. We support countries and regions in developing plans, policies and interventions to halt and reverse the loss of fertile land; to create national plans for drought resilience. Brazil ratified the Convention in 1997, integrating the treaty into its legal framework. Brazil is a global leader in agricultural commodity trading; one of the top hydropower producers in the world; and is home to ecosystems that regulate rainfall patterns across the country —and the entire region. Yet, Brazil is affected by more and more severe and frequent droughts, disrupting food production, rural economy and human security. This means Brazil is uniquely placed to appreciate the centrality of sustainable land and water management to all economic and social sectors. Now, why are land degradation and drought a top concern? Consider this: in optimum conditions, it takes between 200 and 400 years for 1 cm of topsoil to form. However, every second, I repeat every second, the world loses the equivalent of four football fields of healthy land due to the destruction of native vegetation and poor land management. Annually, this adds up to 100 million hectares, an area larger than the State of Mato Grosso. If current trends continue, we will need to restore 1.5 billion hectares of land by 2030 to reach the Land Degradation Neutrality goal. Brazil accounts among the countries that continue to lose fertile land every day, every second. In parallel, droughts are hitting faster and more often, posing an unprecedented emergency on a planetary scale: last year, 1 in 4 people in the world were affected by drought, and events have increased by 29% since the year 2000. Drought is a natural phenomenon. However, global warming and the way we treat our land are combining to create human-made droughts. We see their devastating consequences all around us: crop failure, disruptions in freight transportation (as is the case this year with the disruption of the Panama Canal), soaring energy costs, loss of livelihoods, conflicts over scarce resources, large-scale forced migrations. Again, Brazil is one of the most freshwater in the world. Yet, it is no stranger to the impacts of land degradation and drought: from the lingering impacts of a historic drought in the Amazon, to pressures on hydropower and agricultural production, to the expansion of semi-arid and even arid lands. Mr Chairman, Drought is a hazard, but it needn’t be a disaster, as long as we manage it proactively. With the right investments, policies, and incentives, it is possible to decouple the severity of drought from its most serious impacts on societies, economies, and ecosystem functions. Any single dollar invested in drought resilience and prevention can yield up to ten dollars in return. It is therefore encouraging to see Brazil join the International Drought Resilience Initiative. While we can not stop droughts from occurring, with early warnings, preparedness and adapted responses, we can better mitigate its impacts. Since we are as resilient to drought and climate change as our lands are, it is crucial we make agrifood systems part of the solution, incentivizing sustainable land and water management practices that replenish, rather than squander, the natural capital all of us depend on. From that perspective, what I saw two days ago in Caatinga is encouraging. It was indeed inspiring to witness a whole of Government, in fact a whole of society approach to combatting desertification and building the resilience to drought. This said, much remains to be done in Caatinga and other areas affected by land loss and drought. As representatives of the People of Brazil, your role, honourable Parliamentarians can not be understated. We need to plan at the landscape level. This calls for land-use planning to identify the areas that are best suited for food production, protection of water sources, and ecosystem conservation. At the farm level, sustainable land management can combine precision agriculture to optimize the use of irrigation and fertilizers, with low-tech and nature-based solutions like agroforestry, crop rotation or reduced tilling. Again, coming back to Caatinga, low-tech approaches such as the cisternas are making a difference. To further buttress productive systems, and to protect the livelihoods of the 38 million Brazilians who are most vulnerable to desertification and drought, it is also vital this Parliament allocates a robust budget to support the communities: enhancing water management, building resilience to drought; monitoring and assessment; and supporting a just land transition. Especially, in the Caatinga drylands and the Cerrado, which underpins the water security in Brazil and beyond. At the UNCCD secretariat, we stand ready to support Brazil in its journey towards a more resilient future — but it all starts with your decision to prioritize land and drought in your policies and in the budget you allocate to implementing them. Your leadership ---Brazil’s leadership--- can prevent human suffering, protect economic sectors and set an example for nations across the region and around the world. Particularly, in the lead-up to UNCCD COP16, which will be held from 2-13 December in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. UNCCD COP16 is gearing up to be the largest, and most ambitious, global summit on land and drought to date. Together, we will chart the way for Land Degradation Neutrality targets, drought resilience frameworks, and stronger agrifood systems, and work to unlock a multibillion land restoration industry. Given Brazil’s active environmental diplomacy, the country has a particular role to play as a member of groups such a the G20, BRICS, G77 and LAC. Land degradation and Drought issues are rather unifying. They provide excellent opportunities for countries to play their soft power. Brazil’s active diplomacy and extraordinary political influence will be needed to make the Riyadh COP a moonshot moment for land and fought in the world. Finally, COP16 provide opportunity to Members of Parliament from country Parties to actively participate in the Conference. We look forward to your active engagement in the lead up to, and during COP16, and stand ready to support Brazil in its drive to be a beacon for sustainable land management. Thank you

Address to the Parliamentary Committee for Environment and Sustainable Development of the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil
Brazil joins the International Drought Resilience Alliance

The country reinforces its commitment to combat desertification and drought in the face of climate change Bonn (Germany)/ Petrolina (Brazil), 10 June 2024—Brazil is the latest country to join the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA), the global coalition mobilizing political, technical, and financial capital to prepare the world for harsher droughts. This addition brings the total membership of IDRA to 38 countries and 28 intergovernmental and research organizations, showing an increasing willingness to tackle one of the world’s most deadly and costly natural hazards. Launched at UN Climate Summit COP27 by the leaders of Spain and Senegal, IDRA drives action against droughts in the face of global warming, acknowledging that we are only as resilient to drought and climate change as our land is. The IDRA secretariat is hosted by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). At a joint event with the UNCCD in Petrolina, in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, Minister of Environment and Climate Change of Brazil H.E. Marina Silva said: “Brazil's accession to the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA) demonstrates the government's determination to combat drought and desertification, promote food and water security, and combat inequalities. Our objective is to promote sustainable development, while ensuring the protection of biodiversity and the communities of the semi-arid region. The cooperation with UNCCD reinforces Brazil's commitment to combating desertification and climate change.” The event, which launched a national campaign to combat desertification and drought, put an end to a visit to the semi-arid region of Caatinga, a unique ecoregion that covers around 70 percent of northeastern Brazil, and 11 percent of the total country area. Brazilian researchers recently identified the country’s first arid region and projected the expansion of semiarid lands across much of the territory. Nearly 38 million Brazilians from 1.561 municipalities are vulnerable to desertification and drought , as are 1,4 million square kilometers of land across 13 states, according to the Environment and Climate Change Ministry. In Caatinga, authorities are supporting community-led initiatives to restore watersheds, improve agricultural practices, and harvest water as a means of building their resilience to drought. Around the world, addressing challenges at the water-land-and-climate nexus is essential to protecting agricultural and energy production, and to maintaining vital ecosystem services like the provision of clean water and fertile soils for present and future generations. Speaking at the event in Petrolina, the UNCCD Executive Secretary, Ibrahim Thiaw, said: “I commend Brazil’s commitment to proactively investing in resilient lands and livelihoods. Science and experience show time and again that preparing societies and economies for droughts before they strike prevents human sufering and is much more cost-effective than emergency responses. Drought is a hazard, but in needn’t be a disaster.” A decisive year for land and drought UNCCD COP16 will be the largest-ever meeting of UNCCD’s 197 Parties, the first to be held in the Middle East region, and the largest multilateral conference ever hosted by Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom recently hosted the 2024 World Environment Day global celebrations with a focus on land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience. On 17 June, the 2024 Desertification and Drought Day will mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), one of the three Rio Conventions alongside climate and biodiversity. The High-Level Meeting on National Drought Policy , co-organized by the UNCCD, (Geneva, 30 September-3 October) will bring together policy-makers and practitioners with a twin objective: taking stock of progress and lessons learned in the past decade and charting the way forward for the implementation of drought resilience actions. *** Notes to editors For interviews and enquires please contact: press@unccd.int  Social media X: @UNCCD / Instagram: @unccd  For information about IDRA visit: https://idralliance.global  About IDRA The International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA) is the first global coalition creating political momentum and mobilizing financial and technical resources for a drought-resilient future. As a growing platform of more than 30 countries and 20 institutions, IDRA draws on the collective strengths of its members to advance policies, actions, and capacity-building for drought preparedness, acknowledging we are only as resilient to drought and climate change as our land is. The work of IDRA is aligned with, and supportive of, the mandate of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which hosts the IDRA Secretariat. For more information: https://idralliance.global. 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.

Brazil joins the International Drought Resilience Alliance
Address to authorities in Caatinga, Brazil

Your Excellency Minister Marina Silva, Your Excellency Minister Wellington Dias, Dear governor Jerónimo Rodrigues, I also would like to recognize here the authorities of the University of the São Francisco Valley - Univasf   that is hosting us today, Ladies and gentlemen, On behalf of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) I thank you wholeheartedly for the warm welcome to Caatinga. Especially, for sharing your experience in securing resilient lands and livelihoods in the drylands. On 17 June, the United Nations Convention on Land and Drought (UNCCD) will mark a significant milestone - 30 years of commitment to our planet. As the only legally binding global instrument focused on land and drought, the UNCCD stands proudly alongside the Biodiversity and Climate Conventions as one of the three Rio Conventions, born out of the world famous 1992 Summit. We support our 197 Parties in designing policies, investments, and interventions to halt and reverse the loss of productive land; to create national plans for drought resilience; and to reduce the negative impact of land and soil loss in vulnerable communities. Brazil ratified the Convention in 1997, integrating the treaty into its legal framework. Caatinga is home to scores of species, many of them unique to this biome, and is said to be the most populous dryland area on the planet. Its very existence acts as living proof of the ability of plants, animals, and culturally diverse communities to adapt to semiarid environments. However, life in the planet’s —life that required hundreds and even thousands of years to evolve— is now under pressure from the combined effects of land degradation and climate change. Every year, the world loses 100 million hectares of fertile land, an area larger than the state of Mato Grosso. More than half of the world’s rangelands are degraded, compromising food security and the soil carbon stock, which comes only after the ocean’s.  If current trends continue, we will need to restore 1.5 billion hectares of land by 2030 to reach the Land Degradation Neutrality goal. Barren lands cannot adequately infiltrate and retain water, increasing runoff and accelerating erosion, instead. As a result of global warming and the way we treat our lands, droughts are hitting faster and more often, posing an emergency on a planetary scale: last year, 1 in 4 people were affected by drought worldwide, and events have increased by 29% since the year 2000. Drought is a hazard, but it needn’t be a disaster. With evidence-based policies, practices, and investments, it is possible to decouple the severity of drought from its most serious impacts on lives and livelihoods. Earlier today, I joined a visit to the community of Malhada da Areia. There, I had the opportunity to see how nature-based solutions, sustainable land and water management practices, and simple technologies are building drought resilience. The community is investing in rainwater harvesting; water reuse systems; and agricultural practices that replenish, rather than deplete, the soils. Across Caatinga, this and dozens of other communities are also fencing selected areas to enable natural regeneration of the native vegetation; keeping the grazing stock within the carrying capacity of their land; and diversifying their sources of income. Each and every one of them shows, with tangible results, that it is very much possible to reset our relationship with the land, and prepare for drought before it strikes. With support from civil society organizations, governmental entities, research institutions, and international partners —with your support— the estimated 38 million Brazilians that live in semiarid lands shall also be able to lay the ground for a more resilient, and prosperous, future. Consider the UNCCD Secretariat your trusted ally. Along with the International Drought Resilience Alliance, to which we are delighted to welcome Brazil. Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, from 2 to 13 December, Saudi Arabia will host UNCCD COP16 - the largest and most ambitious global summit on land and drought to date. Together, we will set targets for land degradation neutrality, set up frameworks for drought resilience, strengthen agri-food systems, and work to unlock a multi-billion-dollar land restoration industry.  Where human-made drought says crop failure, we say proactive drought management; where land degradation says migration, we say sustainable land management; where unchecked land conversion says deforestation, we say land use planning; where the lack of prioritization says reactive, we say proactive. In the lead-up to COP16, I count on Brazil’s leadership to help steer our collective boat to a sustainable, and equitable, future for all. Thank you.

Address to authorities in Caatinga, Brazil