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19th Meeting of the Science-Policy Interface (SPI)

The 25 members of the UNCCD’s Science-Policy Interface (SPI) have assembled at the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany for a critical scientific meeting in the run up to the 16th Session of the Conference of the Parties, which will be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from the 2nd to the 13th of December 2024. The SPI is a unique combination of independent scientists from all corners of the globe, science delegates to the Convention representing the five regions of the world, and five practitioners from implementing agencies and civil society. Over the past year half of the SPI members have been assembling the evidence base for a much more systemic approach to land use, so that our impacts can be more strategic and, ideally, much greater than the sum of the parts. The other half have been conducting a comprehensive analysis of aridity trends, projections and anticipated impacts, which under the Convention translates into land and people affected by the combined effects of land degradation and water scarcity. Both assessments have led to draft technical reports which will undergo independent scientific review following the meeting so that they can be finalized and published in the autumn.  The SPI is dedicated to building a bridge between science and policy. They are a global community of experts, united by a passion for understanding and safeguarding all life on land.

19th Meeting of the Science-Policy Interface (SPI)
New horizons in land restoration: 18 nations spearhead the next phase of LDN TSP

The rollout of the second phase of the Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Programme (LDN TSP 2.0) represents a key phase in combating land degradation worldwide, as 18 countries from several regions step up their land restoration commitments ahead of the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD (COP16). This significant advancement has become the focus of the recent workshop on "Strengthening land restoration targets and commitments" in Doha, Qatar, emphasizing the global community's renewed commitment to sustainable land management. Conducted on the sidelines of Expo 2023 Doha this February, the workshop saw the gathering of UNCCD National Focal Points, lead country consultants and key international organization representatives, such as the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UN Development Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization, World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, German Development Cooperation and G20 Global Infrastructure. The workshop fostered the engagement of countries actively working on strengthening their LDN targets by introducing new tools and guidelines for integrated land use planning, and facilitating the identification of priority restoration areas that align with national policy objectives. The workshop also offered an opportunity to explore operational synergies with major environmental initiatives, putting a strong emphasis on the importance of enhancing LDN target monitoring and reporting mechanisms. “The LDN TSP 2.0 represents a unique opportunity for 18 champion countries to showcase in an innovative and bold way to bring UNCCD implementation efforts to the next level in direct response to the global land degradation crisis, paving the way for other countries to follow, ” remarked LDN TSP Team Lead Pedro Lara Almuedo. The goal of the LDN TSP 2.0's is to help countries refine their national targets towards actionable and measurable initiatives. The program stresses the importance of improving land governance by utilizing spatial mapping and monitoring to effectively combat land degradation. The progress and insights achieved through the programme will be shared at the UNCCD COP16 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this December. With 131 countries engaged in the LDN TSP since 2016, over 450 million hectares committed to restoration and 106 countries having published their LDN targets, the workshop's impact sets the stage for significant contributions at COP16 to tackle regional challenges and propel the global efforts against desertification. Land Degradation Neutrality is essential for achieving SDG 15.3, offering co-benefits like poverty reduction, food security, women's empowerment, environmental protection, biodiversity conservation and sustainable management on natural resources. LDN also aids in climate change mitigation and adaptation by transforming degraded lands into carbon sinks. The LDN TSP 2.0, championed by the 18 countries – Argentina, Benin, Central African Republic, Georgia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Republic of Moldova, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St. Lucia and Türkiye – aims to demonstrate progress and guide further actions beyond COP16 in response to the urgent need for accelerated global efforts to restore productive land.  

New horizons in land restoration: 18 nations spearhead the next phase of LDN TSP
Green jobs for women in Burkina Faso and Senegal

Burkina Faso and Senegal are leading a significant shift towards a future that's both sustainable and inclusive, according to new research released by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and UN Women. Filled with valuable insights for policymakers, NGOs and the private sector, the technical briefs focus on the unique opportunities and challenges facing women entrepreneurs and job seekers in the evolving green economy in these two African nations. At the heart of this transformation is the Great Green Wall Initiative, an ambitious project spanning the Sahel that aims to restore 100 million hectares of land, sequester 250 million tons of carbon, and create 10 million jobs by 2030. This massive undertaking is not only an environmental mission, but a pathway to economic revitalization, particularly in promoting gender equality and women's empowerment. “The green transition in Burkina Faso and Senegal is a beacon of hope for gender equality and women's empowerment. It calls for an integrated approach that links green economy goals with gender equality objectives. The Great Green Wall Initiative is a testament to these efforts, combining environmental restoration with economic and social empowerment. By unlocking green jobs for women in key sectors and advocating for gender-responsive policies, these countries aren’t just building a sustainable future; they’re paving the way for a more just and equitable world,” said UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw. Despite being a significant part of the workforce in both countries, women in Burkina and Senegal face many obstacles. They earn less than men, are less represented in leadership positions, and are mostly found in the informal sector. Starting formal businesses remains a challenge due to limited resources, such as capital and technology. Women also bear the heavy burden of unpaid care work, particularly in rural areas, which limits their opportunities for income and education. But there's a silver lining. Both countries have immense potential to create green jobs in areas such as agriculture, forestry, energy and waste management. It is estimated that around one million jobs can be created in these sectors, the majority of which will be for women. Opportunities abound in under-exploited areas such as non-timber forest products, the transformation of subsistence agriculture, solar energy and composting in waste management. These sectors offer rewarding and sustainable opportunities, especially for women. To unlock this potential, comprehensive strategies are essential. These include improving women's access to education and training, especially in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics); developing climate-resilient technologies for women's cooperatives; facilitating access to green finance; and addressing the burden of unpaid care work. In addition, promoting women's networks in the green economy and establishing innovative value chains centered on non-timber forest products are critical steps. Nearly half of the world's smallholder farmers are women, but they own less than 20 per cent of the world's land. In Senegal, where rural women make up about 70 per cent of the labour force and are responsible for 80 per cent of the country's food production, they own a disproportionately low 10 per cent of agricultural land. Similarly, in Burkina Faso, women make up 60 per cent of the labour force and produce about 70 per cent of the food, but their land ownership is also limited to 8 per cent. Moreover, in both countries, most women access land through their husbands and face difficulties in having their tenure rights recognised and effectively protected. Investing in women’s equal access to, use of and control over land and associated assets is a direct investment in their future and the future of humanity and the planet. Women are instrumental in providing security and stability in rural communities with great potential to contribute to land restoration activities. For more information, contact Mr. Gilles Amadou Ouédraogo gouedraogo@unccd.int  

Green jobs for women in Burkina Faso and Senegal
UNCCD Executive Secretary visits Japan to strengthen collaboration ahead of COP16

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Ibrahim Thiaw concluded his two-day visit to Japan to strengthen cooperation with key government and international partners ahead of the UNCCD Conference of the Parties (COP16) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia this December. During the visit, he signed cooperation agreements with two key international partners – United Nations University (UNU) and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). He also had meetings with Ambassador Takeshi Akahori from the Foreign Ministry and senior officials at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Japan has been a signatory to UNCCD since 1998. On 20 February, UNCCD Executive Secretary also joined UNU Rector Professor Tshilidzi Marwala for a public conversation exploring the relationship between land degradation and human security such as famine, conflicts and environmental crises, as well as the role of international cooperation and the UNCCD in combating desertification, land degradation and drought. "The collaboration with UNU and ITTO to strengthen the delivery of scientific knowledge and improve the resilience of the vulnerable populations and ecosystems will be important to support UNCCD Parties in addressing desertification, land degradation and drought,” Mr. Thiaw said. “These issues will be front and centre at the upcoming UNCCD COP16. We look forward to working together on the road to Riyadh and beyond." United Nations University (UNU), which unites 13 scientific institutes in 12 countries around the world works on collaborative research and education, aiming to contribute, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems of human survival, development, and welfare that are the concern of the United Nations, its Peoples, and Member States. UNU and the UNCCD have jointly worked on publications around topics of sustainable land management, ecosystem restoration and disaster risk reduction. Future cooperation will focus on aligning approaches on sustainable land and water management, as well as financial inclusion and social protection in the context of ecological restoration. “Desertification is an urgent, complex issue that negatively impacts the lives and livelihoods of 3.2 billion people worldwide. Combating desertification requires partnerships and shared expertise. Working in collaboration, UNU and UNCCD will be able to strengthen research, advocacy and capacity building to further support the United Nations, its Peoples and Member States as we work to reverse desertification and confront related critical issues,” Professor Marwala concluded. Also in Tokyo, the UNCCD and International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) committed to another four years of joint work on the sustainable management of tropical forests under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by ITTO Executive Director Sheam Satkuru and UNCCD Executive Secretary Thiaw. The overall objective of the new MOU is to support ITTO member countries and Parties to the UNCCD in restoring and maintaining tropical forest landscapes while promoting the sustainable production of timber and other products and ecosystem services. ITTO is an intergovernmental organization promoting the sustainable management and conservation of tropical forests and the expansion and diversification of international trade in tropical timber from sustainably managed and legally harvested forests. ITTO’s membership represents about 90% of the global tropical timber trade and more than 80% of the world’s tropical forests.

UNCCD Executive Secretary visits Japan to strengthen collaboration ahead of COP16
Become the next UNCCD Land Hero!

About UNCCD Land Heroes The UNCCD Land Heroes campaign recognizes and supports young individuals and youth-led/based organizations making positive impacts against desertification, land degradation, and drought. Through online engagement, we raise awareness, share success stories, and empower youth as change agents in sustainable land management, engaging them in implementing the convention. Building on the success of the inaugural 2020 cohort, the second cohort of Land Heroes continues to inspire and mobilize youth to promote the UNCCD's objectives. About the Land Heroes campaign Part of the Land for Life Programme, #LandHeroes showcases youth's dedication to sustainable land management. These organizations and individuals share transformative journeys through social media, videos, blogs, and our dedicated website, amplifying their contributions and recognizing both young men and women as critical forces for positive change. Join us in celebrating these remarkable land champions. Objective The Land Heroes campaign aims to identify, celebrate, and support youth aged 18-35 engaged in sustainable land management, raising awareness of land's link to biodiversity and climate. By sharing stories, we inspire change, unite youth, provide mentorship, and showcase the transformative power of collective efforts. Campaign goals Raise awareness of land's connection to biodiversity and climate Spotlight diverse ways youth positively impact the land Share inspiring stories showcasing collective progress Empower youth to spread campaign messages and take action Provide mentorship in sustainable land management Share success stories to foster understanding and awareness Categories of Land Heroes Drought resilience: Early warning systems: Implementing proactive measures to anticipate and respond to drought conditions effectively. Mitigating the effects of drought: Innovative strategies for drought impact mitigation and ensure water availability. Adopting scalable and inclusive approaches: Promoting strategies that can be expanded to larger scales and inclusive of vulnerable populations to enhance drought resilience. Land restoration: Large-scale land restoration: Leadership in restoring degraded land on a large scale, contributing to ecosystem restoration and biodiversity conservation. Community-level land restoration: Impactful initiatives restoring degraded land at the community level, enhancing livelihoods and resilience. Inclusivity and equality: Gender equality and women's empowerment: Initiatives promoting gender equality in land ownership, decision-making, and conservation efforts Social equity: Initiatives promoting poverty eradication, social cohesion, etc. Indigenous knowledge: Amplifying indigenous knowledge and practices, recognizing their vital role in sustainable land management Science and innovation: Innovation: Innovative approaches in sustainable land management Technology: Harnessing technology for land monitoring, data analysis, and knowledge-sharing on sustainable practices Science and research: Contributions to scientific research and evidence-based decision-making in land management Key features of Land Heroes Youth engagement (18-35) in addressing land challenges Role models inspiring peers through dedication Inspirational leadership mobilizing youth for collective responsibility Passionate and dedicated to combating desertification and degradation Vision for change: Clear understanding and innovative strategies Collaboration with stakeholders for effective partnerships Strong communication: Effective online presence to inspire action Benefits for Land Heroes Grant of US$1,000 for top finalists in each category Attendance at high-level UNCCD meetings Publicity and recognition through interviews, media, and social platforms Mentorship for leadership, communication, and project management Opportunities to support UNCCD through advocacy, workshops, and content creation Participation in challenges and innovation forums Coordination with other Land Heroes for workshops and collaborative projects Identification of Land Heroes Ten Land Heroes are selected over two years based on criteria aligned with categories. Timeline Deadline extended: 29 February 2024 June 2024: Desertification and Drought Day December 2024: Participation in COP16 Meet the current cohort: Land Heroes Follow Us on social media: Twitter X | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn 

Become the next UNCCD Land Hero!