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Sand and dust storms compendium launches at UNCCD COP15

Fueled by climate change, land degradation and drought, sand and dust storms (SDS) have dramatically increased in recent years, affecting communities thousands of miles away from the place of origin. In the areas where they originate, SDS can damage crops, kill livestock and strip topsoil, while distant areas are affected by atmospheric dust and surface dust deposits, which affect human health as well as disrupt transportation, supply chains and power networks. The urgent need to address the growing effects of SDS on our health, economy and environment has led UNCCD and its partners to develop a comprehensive Sand and dust storms compendium: Information and guidance on assessing and addressing risks, launched during the SDS Day at UNCCD COP15. Created with the help of over 50 experts, national focal points and UN agencies, the new compendium complements the UNCCD policy and advocacy framework for the effective management and understanding of the SDS issues. “It is critically important to bring more attention to SDS. Today is about understanding that SDS is a global phenomenon that has effect on our economies, health and environment, and not just in the drylands. SDS is directly related to land degradation and can be addressed through sustainable land management and by achieving land degradation neutrality.” -- UNCCD Deputy Executive Secretary Andrea Meza Murillo The Compendium is an in-depth reference source for SDS management, offering information on SDS modeling and forecasting, as well as on policies and practices to effectively manage SDS and reduce the harmful effects of SDS events. The compendium summary for decision makers is now available on the UNCCD website in six official UN languages, together with the full English version of the new publication. The next UNCCD key contribution to the SDS knowledge base will be the SDS toolbox. It is being developed in collaboration with the partners from the United Nations Coalition on Combating Sand and Dust Storms (SDS Coalition) launched at UNCCD COP14 in 2019. Depending on the needs of the user, the interactive toolbox will guide them to approaches and tools they can deploy to improve awareness of SDS hazards, effectively manage SDS impacts and design practical and proactive steps to successfully implement SDS-related projects.

Sand and dust storms compendium launches at UNCCD COP15
New business challenge to boost the use of Sahelian products in support of the Great Green Wall

Baobab juice, moringa oil and shea butter are just some of the products from Africa’s Sahel region that may hold the key to improving livelihoods, restoring degraded lands, and tackling climate change. To unlock this potential of the Sahel’s natural capital and give new momentum to the Great Green Wall’s land restoration ambition, a new sourcing challenge has been launched at UNCCD COP15 Green Business Forum in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The Sahel sourcing challenge calls on the global supply chains managers to upscale the use of sustainably produced Sahelian ingredients, such as bambara nut, baobab, moringa, gum Arabic and fonio, from the Sahel's small-scale producers as a way to create new economic opportunities for local populations. Sahel region is one of the most vulnerable places on Earth, where the temperatures are rising 1.5 times faster than the global average and where increasing desertification, drought and resource scarcity, leading to radicalization, conflict and migration. An African-led movement to inspire the world, the Great Green Wall is an epic vision to create a 8,000 km-long mosaic of projects across the continent that support land restoration, create 10 million jobs and promise a better a future. UNCCD is a key partner of the Great Green Wall Initiative, working with businesses and major corporate partners to create green jobs and transform the Sahel through market-driven, sustainable ethical supply chains. “The Great Green Wall challenge has a huge potential to help combat land degradation. By creating demand for the Sahel’s underutilized ingredients, the private sector can play a pivotal role in the creation of local economic development and the subsequent environmental and social impact that new value chains will bring,” says Nick Salter, co-founder of Aduna. Aduna, together with What If Foods, Unilever, Evonik, Doehler, the World Economic Forum and the Global Shea Alliance, is among the major businesses and platforms that are working on the challenge and calling on others to follow suit and work with UNCCD and Business Fights Poverty to make the challenge a world-class success. “We're looking to be not just buyers, but to support communities. Improving livelihoods and soil fertility are in everyone's best interests,” says Scott Poynton, CEO and Founder of The Pond Foundation and What If Foods Partner. Follow the Great Green Wall progress on the Web, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

New business challenge to boost the use of Sahelian products in support of the Great Green Wall
Rio Conventions Pavilion hosts its first-ever Food Day

The Rio Conventions Pavilion hosted its first-ever Food Day at UNCCD COP15 Rio Conventions Pavilion, where representatives of international organizations, civil society and the indigenous leaders discussed the science and approaches that can help reshape our relationship with the land to secure the future of our food.

Rio Conventions Pavilion hosts its first-ever Food Day
The 15th session of the Committee on Science and Technology convenes at UNCCD COP15 

Announced by the Chair of the CST, Mr. Masuku Bongani from Eswatini, the CST15 of the UNCCD opened on 11 May 2022 with UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw highlighting that science has a unique role in creating sustainable future of land resources by providing evidence, informing the decision makers and mobilizing action.  Mr. Thiaw recognized the commitment of the Bureau of the CST and the Science Policy Interface (SPI) members over the 2020-2021 biennium to enhance the scientific foundation for policy development, as evidenced in the assessments 1) on the role of integrated land use planning and landscape management in achieving Land Degradation Neutrality; 20 on approaches for monitoring and assessment of the resilience of the ecosystems and population to drought and 30 the comprehensive analysis on two IPCC reports. The future work programme of the SPI for 2022-2023 includes assessments on sustainable land use systems and historical regional and global aridity trends and future projections.  In the first plenary of the CST15, after the adoption of the agenda, the Committee on Science and Technology commenced its thematic dialogue with the SPI on the outcomes achieved in the biennium 2020-2021, starting with the evidence resulting from its two assessments on the integrated land use planning and landscape management, and the assessment on resilience of ecosystems and population to drought. To continue work on these two key topics, the CST contact group was established and held its first meeting to discuss the draft decision text to be submitted to the COP for consideration.   On 12 May, the second plenary of the CST continued a thematic dialogue on the SPI’s comprehensive analysis on the IPCC reports. A follow-up plenary discussion reconvened on the issue of science-policy-interfacing modalities, accessibility to and dissemination of the best practices and the proposed SPI future work programme.   The afternoon session of the fourth plenary of the CST15 addressed the joint report by the CST and the CRIC on reporting modalities on land degradation and drought for implementation of the UNCCD Strategic Framework 2018-2030, which guides parties in the next cycle of national reporting. The second topic of the 4th plenary is the procedural matters on the programme work of the CST16. The CST-CRIC joint contact group meeting continues its work on 13 May until completion of all draft decisions. Then the CST contact group will continue its negotiation.  The last plenary of the CST15 is scheduled in the afternoon of 13 May to adopt the report to the COP including the CST draft decisions and the vice chairs of the CST16.  The chair of the CST will be elected at the final meeting of the COP15.  To promote the key role of scientific evidence-based policy-oriented recommendations in UNCCD implementation, drought resilience and sustainable land management, the Science-Policy Interface will be hosting a Science-Day at the UNCCD COP5 Rio Conventions Pavilion on Saturday 14 May.   

The 15th session of the Committee on Science and Technology convenes at UNCCD COP15 
UNCCD CRIC20 opening speech by Ibrahim Thiaw

Chairman, Distinguished delegates, Distinguished representatives from the civil society and international organisations, I welcome you all to this important session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention. Leaning on an idea that the Secretary-General expressed in his recent speech to the General Assembly, I would like to remind everybody who has taken the time and made the effort to join us here in this beautiful country of Côte d’Ivoire, that: we come together at COP or any its subsidiary bodies on behalf of the people of this planet. Citing the charter of the United Nations, the Secretary-General reminded us that all our efforts, our activities and aspirations should be geared towards improving peoples’ lives, enhancing their opportunities for financial growth, but also improving their socio-economic situations at home. The road to this meeting has been long and sometimes bumpy, but together you have laid a solid foundation for our work. The 19th intersessional session of the CRIC, convened in March 2021, had to take place virtually due to the pandemic. Despite the challenges of meeting and exchanging ideas and knowledge online, you, the Parties, expressed appreciation for the fact that CRIC 19 enabled you to come together and prepare substantively for COP. I would like, again, to thank Mr. Andrew Bishop, CRIC Chair for his leadership and the excellent job done at CRIC 19. I would also like to thank the rapporteur of the CRIC, Mr. Hussein Nasrallah, for the excellent job in summarizing the debates which fed into the final report of CRIC 19, and which will be discussed during this session. Mr. Chair, distinguished delegates, Please allow me to briefly highlight the substantive agenda items before us today and in the coming days. We have a lot to cover to provide targeted recommendations to the COP. During this session, you will have the opportunity a to review information on the SDG process and how it links to the implementation of our Convention. We must be proud of that and be proud to have succeeded in directly linking our work with that of the SDG process through the land degradation neutrality target setting programme and national reporting. As of today, a total of 129 countries have committed to set land degradation neutrality targets, 106 of which have successfully completed this voluntary process. In 2019, an analysis of national reports submitted to the UNCCD conservatively estimated that on average 20% of the global land area is degraded to some extent; this is an area nearly the size of Africa. The Global Land Outlook, our flagship report which was launched just a couple of weeks ago, has confirmed that of the 70% of all land on Earth altered by humanity, 20 to 40% of it is degraded. This is daunting. It is thanks to your contribution that SDG indicator 15.3.1 “the proportion of land that is degraded over total land area” was upgraded to the tier 1 level in November 2019.  This means that there is confidence in the credibility of the data you provided for this indicator. This is a tremendous success! Without your input, your data or the submission of your reports, this would have not been possible.  I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for this and encourage you to contribute to the continuous success of this process by submitting updated information on this indicator throughout the 2022 reporting process. Moving forward in the agenda, you will be able to share experiences and knowledge about capacity building through a panel discussion which will help you identify how to best implement UNCCD’s mandate. During this session, you will also have an opportunity to continue discussing financial issues and review information provided by both the Global Environment Facility and the Global Mechanism on funding opportunities available to Parties for an effective implementation of the Convention. At the beginning of April, 29 countries agreed to pledge the record support of US 5.25 billion dollars for the GEF-8 replenishment period, a nearly 30 percent increase in funding compared to the previous period. The increase in GEF resources comes at a critical moment as many countries around the world are facing multiple challenges – from drought to conflicts, to the ongoing pandemic, all of which could turn policy attention away from sustainable development and land restoration as a vehicle to deliver multiple benefits.  With the 2022 reporting process currently ongoing, the issue of national reporting is also high on the agenda of this session. By combining cutting-edge geospatial information, technology and services, our new reporting platform, PRAIS 4, sets the foundations for future innovation in reporting and, more broadly, for a UNCCD data driven transformation in line with the Secretary-General’s Data Strategy. The use of Earth Observation data and tools in support of decision-making and monitoring at the national and global level will not only allow the Convention to continue contributing to the SDG reporting and review process, but it will also aid prioritization of interventions, increase visibility and transparency of progress in the implementation of the Convention, and enhance our credibility at the international level. Last but not least, you will jump start the discussion on the multi-year work plan for the next 4 years which will be taken up by the budget contact group later in this COP Indeed important agenda items that will lead us to take decisions that should prioritize people and ecosystems. The CRIC is central to this important process and I do hope you will be able to seize this opportunity in this beautiful city of Abidjan to do exactly that. Personally, it fills me with pride to see this plenary full of people willing to discuss these important issues, to reach  a common approach of how we want to create a better place for people to live and in a sustainable and productive manner. I look forward to your lively debates and fruitful exchanges. Thank you

UNCCD CRIC20 opening speech by Ibrahim Thiaw
World “at a crossroads” in drought management, up 29% in a generation and worsening, says UN

Humanity is “at a crossroads” when it comes to managing drought and accelerating mitigation must be done “urgently, using every tool we can,” says a new report from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Drought in Numbers, 2022, released today to mark Drought Day at UNCCD’s 15th Conference of Parties (COP15, 9-20 May in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire) – calls for making a full global commitment to drought preparedness and resilience in all global regions a top priority. The report, an authoritative compendium of drought-related information and data, helps inform negotiations of one of several decisions by UNCCD’s 196 member states, to be issued 20 May at the conclusion of COP15. “The facts and figures of this publication all point in the same direction: an upward trajectory in the duration of droughts and the severity of impacts, not only affecting human societies but also the ecological systems upon which the survival of all life depends, including that of our own species.” says Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD. The report creates a compelling call to action. For example: Since 2000, the number and duration of droughts has risen 29% From 1970 to 2019, weather, climate and water hazards accounted for 50% of disasters and 45% of disaster-related deaths, mostly in developing countries Droughts represent 15% of natural disasters but took the largest human toll, approximately 650,000 deaths from 1970-2019 From 1998 to 2017, droughts caused global economic losses of roughly USD 124 billion In 2022, more than 2.3 billion people face water stress; almost 160 million children are exposed to severe and prolonged droughts Unless action is stepped up: By 2030, an estimated 700 million people will be at risk of being displaced by drought By 2040, an estimated one in four children will live in areas with extreme water shortages By 2050, droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population, and an estimated 4.8-5.7 billion people will live in areas that are water-scarce for at least one month each year, up from 3.6 billion today.  And up to 216 million people could be forced to migrate by 2050, largely due to drought in combination with other factors including water scarcity, declining crop productivity, sea-level rise, and overpopulation See below for additional report highlights “We are at a crossroads,” says Mr. Thiaw.  “We need to steer toward the solutions rather than continuing with destructive actions, believing that marginal change can heal systemic failure.” “One of the best, most comprehensive solutions is land restoration, which addresses many of the underlying factors of degraded water cycles and the loss of soil fertility. We must build and rebuild our landscapes better, mimicking nature wherever possible and creating functional ecological systems.” Beyond restoration, he adds, is the need for a paradigm shift from ‘reactive’ and ‘crisis-based’ approaches to ‘proactive’ and ‘risk-based’ drought management approaches involving coordination, communication and cooperation, driven by sufficient finance and political will.  Needed as well: Sustainable and efficient agricultural management techniques that grow more food on less land and with less water Changes in our relationships with food, fodder and fiber, moving toward plant-based diets, and reducing or stopping the consumption of animals Concerted policy and partnerships at all levels Development and implementation of integrated drought action plans Set up effective early-warning systems that work across boundaries Deployment of new technologies such as satellite monitoring and artificial intelligence to guide decisions with greater precision Regular monitoring and reporting to ensure continuous improvement Mobilize sustainable finance to improve drought resilience at the local level Invest in soil health Work together and include and mobilize farmers, local communities, businesses, consumers, investors, entrepreneurs and, above all, young people The new UNCCD report notes that 128 countries have expressed willingness to achieve or exceed Land Degradation Neutrality. And nearly 70 countries participated in the UNCCD’s global drought initiative, which aims to shift from reactive approaches to drought to a proactive and risk-reducing approach. Mr. Thiaw underlined the importance of promoting public awareness about desertification and drought, and letting people know the problems can be effectively tackled “through ingenuity, commitment and solidarity.” “We all must live up to our responsibility to ensure the health of present and future generations, wholeheartedly and without delay.” The COP15 decision on drought is expected to touch on five interrelated areas: drought policies early warning, monitoring and assessment knowledge sharing and learning partnerships and coordination, and drought finance UNCCD launches “Droughtland” public awareness initiative The campaign will be featured during UN Desertification and Drought Day (17 June), hosted this year by Madrid, Spain UN Desertification and Drought Day has four key objectives: Equip people worldwide with tools to assess their current or potential future exposure to drought risk Share proven, innovative international solutions to drought Create public opportunities to participate in action, and Celebrate progress and inspire action Additional highlights, Drought in Numbers, 2022 Drought around the world (1900-2022) More than 10 million people died due to major drought events in the past century, causing several hundred billion USD in economic losses worldwide.  And the numbers are rising Severe drought affects Africa more than any other continent, with more than 300 events recorded in the past 100 years, accounting for 44% of the global total. More recently, sub-Saharan Africa has experienced the dramatic consequences of climate disasters becoming more frequent and intense In the past century, 45 major drought events occurred in Europe, affecting millions of people and resulting in more than USD 27.8 billion in economic losses. Today, an annual average of 15% of the land area and 17% of the population within the European Union is affected by drought In the U.S., crop failures and other economic losses due to drought have totaled several hundred billion USD over the last century – USD 249 billion alone since 1980 Over the past century, the highest total number of humans affected by drought were in Asia Impacts on human society Over 1.4 billion people were affected by drought from 2000 to 2019. This makes drought the disaster affecting the second-highest number of people, after flooding. Africa suffered from drought more frequently than any other continent with 134 droughts, of which 70 occurred in East Africa The effect of severe droughts was estimated to have reduced India’s gross domestic product by 2-5% As a result of the Australian Millennium Drought, total agricultural productivity fell by 18% from 2002 to 2010 Greater burdens and suffering are inflicted on women and girls in emerging and developing countries in terms of education levels, nutrition, health, sanitation, and safety The burden of water collection – especially in drylands – falls disproportionately on women (72%) and girls (9%), who, in some cases, spend as much as 40% of their calorific intake carrying water Droughts have deep, widespread and underestimated impacts on societies, ecosystems, and economies, with only a portion of the actual losses accounted for A 2017 California case study showed that an increase of about 100 drought stories over two months was associated with a reduction of 11 to 18% in typical household water-use Impacts on ecosystems The percentage of plants affected by drought has more than doubled in the last 40 years, with about 12 million hectares of land lost each year due to drought and desertification Ecosystems progressively turn into carbon sources, especially during extreme drought events, detectable on five of six continents One-third of global carbon dioxide emissions is offset by the carbon uptake of terrestrial ecosystems, yet their capacity to sequester carbon is highly sensitive to drought events 14% of wetlands critical for migratory species, as listed by Ramsar, are located in drought-prone regions The megadrought in Australia contributed to ‘megafires’ in 2019-2020 resulting in the most dramatic loss of habitat for threatened species in postcolonial history; about 3 billion animals were killed or displaced in the Australian wildfires Drought-induced peatland fires in Indonesia resulted in decreasing biodiversity, including both the number of individuals as well as plant species Photosynthesis in European ecosystems was reduced by 30% during the summer drought of 2003, which resulted in an estimated net carbon release of 0.5 gigatons 84% of terrestrial ecosystems are threatened by changing and intensifying wildfires During the first two decades of the 21st century, the Amazon experienced 3 widespread droughts, all of which triggered massive forest fires. Drought events are becoming increasingly common in the Amazon region due to land-use and climate change, which are interlinked. If Amazonian deforestation continues unabated, 16% of the region’s remaining forests will likely burn by 2050 Predictable futures Climate change is expected to increase the risk of droughts in many vulnerable regions of the world, particularly those with rapid population growth, vulnerable populations and challenges with food security Within the next few decades, 129 countries will experience an increase in drought exposure mainly due to climate change alone – 23 primarily due to population growth and 38 mostly due to the interaction between climate change and population growth If global warming reaches 3 degrees Celsius by 2100 as some predict, drought losses could be five times higher than they are today, with the largest increase in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic regions of Europe In Angola, more than 40% of livestock, a significant livelihood source accounting for 31.4% of the agricultural GDP, is currently exposed to droughts and expected to rise to 70% under projected climate conditions In the E.U. and U.K., annual losses from drought are currently estimated to be around EUR 9 billion and projected to rise to more than EUR 65 billion without meaningful climate action Successful business cases By adopting drip irrigation, small-scale vegetable farmers in drought-prone provinces of VietNam (Binh Phouc), Cambodia (Prey Veng and Svay Reing), the Philippines (Lantapan and Bukidnon) and Indonesia (Reing and Bogor, West Java; Rembang, East Java) were able to increase water use efficiency by up to 43% and yield by 8-15% With the highest water efficiency rate in agriculture, reaching a 70-80% rate, drip irrigation has helped to solve the problem of water scarcity in Israel Other highlights Information Technology and Indigenous Knowledge with Intelligence (ITIKI) is a drought early warning system that integrates Indigenous knowledge and drought forecasting to help small-scale farmers make more informed decisions, for example, on when and how to plant which crops. The support forecast models provides accuracy of 70-98% for lead-times of up to four years, as shown by trials in Mozambique, Kenya and South Africa Up to USD 1.4 trillion in production value can be generated globally by adopting sustainable land and water management practices Approximately 4 million hectares of degraded land within “strict intervention zones” have been rehabilitated under the framework of the African Union–led restoration initiative known as the Great Green Wall – 4% of the Wall’s ultimate target of restoring 100 million hectares, helping to reduce the immanent threats of desertification and drought Related: UNCCD’s flagship Global Land Outlook 2 (GLO2) report, five years in development with 21 partner organizations, and with over 1,000 references, is the most comprehensive consolidation of information on the topic ever assembled. Released Apr. 27, it reported up to 40% of all ice-free land is already degraded, with dire consequences for climate, biodiversity and livelihoods. Notes to editors  The 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD, 9-20 May, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire) is focussed on: The restoration of 1 billion hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 Future-proofing land use against the impacts of climate change, and Tackling escalating droughts, sand and dust storms, wildfires and other disaster risks. More than a dozen heads of state and government, ministers, and at least 2,000 delegates from 196 countries and the European Union, are expected to attend. Major press events during the session can be viewed live on the UNCCD YouTube Channel here. Future Abidjan media programme highlights: Wednesday, 18 May (time TBC): Launch of regional Global Land Outlook reports Wednesday, 18 May (time TBC): Launch of the Sahel uplink challenge to enable communities growing the Great Green Wall to use technology to monitor progress, create jobs and commercialize their produce Friday, 20 May, 13:00-13:45 UTC (check local time here), outcomes of the 15th Session of the Conference of Parties, presented by Alain Richard Donwahi, COP15 President Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary Off-site journalists may submit questions via email to press@unccd.int, but must identify themselves and their media organization COP15 background documents and information: https://www.unccd.int/cop15 COP15 social media channels: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/unccd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UNCCD/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/UNCCD #LandLifeLegacy       #UNCCDCOP15         #United4Land           @unccd UNCCD COP15 is the first of the three Rio Conventions' meetings in 2022, with the Biodiversity COP15 and Climate Change COP27 convening later in Kunming, China, and Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, respectively. For further information: Xenya Scanlon, Chief of Communications, xscanlon@unccd.int Wagaki Wischnewski, Head of Press and Media, wwischnewski@unccd.int To request interviews: press@unccd.int COP15 programme, registration and other media information: https://www.unccd.int/cop15 * * * * *   The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD.int) 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

World “at a crossroads” in drought management, up 29% in a generation and worsening, says UN