Bonn, 23 November 2022 - Commitments made at the Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Change Conference (COP27), which concluded on Sunday, 20 November in Egypt, provide new impetus for working together to recover degraded land, build resilience to drought, tackle climate change and reduce the loss of biodiversity.
“This COP27, held on the African continent, underlined the importance of sustainable land management in addressing the climate crisis and multiple global challenges of our time. The announcement of new initiatives such as the International Drought Resilience Alliance, the ENACT partnership to promote nature-based solutions, and the progress on the Great Green Wall have mobilized decision-makers around concrete proposals to address both the climate emergency and the land degradation crisis that threaten billions of people around the world,” says Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
Droughts are natural disasters, but have become more widespread, frequent and severe due to the combined impacts of climate change and land degradation. The international community’s traditional emergency response is no longer enough. Considering that preparing for droughts in advance is far cheaper than reacting and responding to impacts after droughts hit, 30 countries and over 20 organizations supported Senegal and Spain at COP27 to launch the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA). The Alliance is a global collaborative platform to help communities, cities and countries to build resilience to drought.
Nature-based solutions can provide 37% of cost-effective CO2 mitigation needed by 2030 to limit climate change. At COP27, Egypt and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) launched a global initiative to solve the need for an integrated global approach to nature-based solutions. Known as Enhancing Nature-based Solutions for an accelerated Climate Transformation or ENACT, the initiative links climate change to biodiversity. Two of its eight areas of focus linked to UNCCD’s work are Food Security and Land Productivity and Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction.
Land restoration is a critical pillar in the nature-based solutions to climate change, drought and biodiversity loss. Nations have pledged to restore one billion degraded hectares – an area the size of the USA or China — by 2030. Nearly half of these voluntary commitments are under the UNCCD.
Large scale land restoration initiatives such as Africa’s Great Green Wall and the Middle East Green Initiative offer hope in global efforts to build resilience, create jobs and livelihoods.
New financial analysis of the Great Green Wall Accelerator presented at COP27 shows more than 150 projects are under implementation. Over USD15 billion of the of USD 19 billion pledged since the 2021 One Planet Summit was allocated to these projects. The African Development Bank, Agence Française de Development and the European Investment Bank were requested to work on developing a funding mechanism for non-governmental actors and a new pipeline of projects to scale up impact. Somali and Cote d’Ivoire also announced they will join the Great Green Wall countries.
The DeserTech community in Negev region of Israel and UNCCD's Global Mechanism also announced a partnership in a new training scheme to find innovative solutions to tackle desert-related challenges. Innovators from 11 Great Green Wall countries are invited to apply for the training that will field trips to acquire skills and knowledge to identify challenges, assess potential technologies and write concrete project proposals that are ready for implementation.
The G20 Global Land Initiative held its COP27 event titled, Towards 50 percent reduction in degraded land by 2040, to showcase land restoration initiatives at different levels: the Global Peatland Initiative; the Saudi Green Initiative; and soil conservation at the local level driven by Isha Foundation’s Save the Soil Movement. The discussion focused on collaboration and coordinated action, the contribution of the Coordination Office of the G20 Global Land Initiative in these efforts and how countries and organizations could join and associate with the G20 Global Land Initiative. The event coincided with the release of the G20 Bali Declaration, in which leaders reiterated their shared ambition to halve land degradation by 2040.
As part of ongoing collaboration among the secretariats of CBD, UNCCD and UNFCCC, the Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) programme of events was hosted at the GEF-GCF Pavilion at COP27. The RCP@COP27 emphasized the importance of integrated approaches at global and national levels in the implementation of the Rio Conventions towards their common objectives. For the first time, the food and agriculture themes featured prominently at COP27 and at the UNCCD’s most recent COP15 held in May in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The upcoming CBD COP15, taking place from 7-19 December in Montreal, Canada, will be the final of the three Rio Conventions to hold its meeting in 2022. It is expected to deliver a new global framework to tackle biodiversity loss.
COP27 took place from 6 to 20 November 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Among the COP27 outcomes, the decision to establish a dedicated fund to assist vulnerable developing countries in responding to “loss and damage,” is considered ground-breaking. Details about the fund and how it will operate will be developed before the next Conference at the end of next year.