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Welcome back, Canada

Canada Deposits its Instrument of Ratification to Re-Join the UNCCD Statement of Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD Yesterday, the Government of Canada communicated to the Secretary-General of the United Nations its accession to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). We welcome the action Canada has taken to rejoin the Convention, which will become a full party after 90 days, on 21 March 2017. The international community is facing new and growing challenges to its peace and security, wealth and sustainable development. No country is immune. No country can face these challenges alone. Many of these challenges stem in large part from the crises poor rural people are facing in meeting their daily needs of food, water, energy and income, and made worse by climate change. Canada’s contribution will take us further and faster in ensuring that the 2.8 billion people affected by land degradation today have the means and knowledge to avoid further degradation of their land and to recover what they have lost. Canada’s scientific expertise and practical experience in combatting desertification and drought can benefit rural households to improve their food and water security, and ensure every child has a fighting chance for a better life.  Further information About the Convention List of ratification Media release by the Government of Canada (external link)English  Français

Welcome back, Canada
Colombia advances on the SDG 15 agenda on “life on land” through the implementation of the National Policy for Sustainable Soil Management

According to the National Institute for Hydrometheorological and Environmental Studies (IDEAM), 40% of the national territory presents some degree of soil degradation by erosion. Additionally, it is estimated that 24% of land in Colombia is susceptible to degradation by aridity. Within the affected areas are the Colombian main cities, irrigation districts and regions with the highest population density. “Sustainable land management is a responsibility that concerns all sectors of society, so I invite you to join efforts and create joint actions aimed at protecting this natural resource that fulfills vital functions for human survival" said the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Luis Gilberto Murillo during a national event to celebrate World Soil Day, held on December 5th. In order to address this issue, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, together with other national and regional actors, are working in the implementation of the National Policy for Sustainable Soil Management. This policy seeks to promote sustainable soil management in a context in which biodiversity, water and air protection, land and disaster risk management converge, contributing to the sustainable development and the well-being of all Colombians. This policy proposes the implementation of a plan of action and the development of six strategic lines such as institutional strengthening and harmonization of standards and policies; education, training and awareness; strengthening of environmental and sectoral planning tools; monitoring of soil quality; research, innovation and technology transfer and preservation, restoration and sustainable use of the soil. Moreover, Colombia has been advancing in the assessment of soils, through the development of soil inventories, assessment of land use conflicts and degradation by erosion and salinization, among other aspects. The promotion of sustainable soil management in the region will contribute to addressing the global challenges and the fulfillment of Colombian international commitments, including: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Commitments to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought, especially efforts to achieve the national Land Degradation Neutrality targets (currently under preparation) Eradication of hunger and malnutrition and ensuring food security for a growing population Adaptation and mitigation to climate change, especially in the light of the Paris Agreement, which contains a firm commitment to address climate change and at the same time attributes to the agriculture sector a leading role in this process The Aichi Targets, which highlight an important agenda for preserving biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services.

Colombia advances on the SDG 15 agenda on “life on land” through the implementation of the National Policy for Sustainable Soil Management
Be inspired by the 15 amazing young activists!

The UNCCD Land for Life Youth Social Media Activists Challenge semi finalists' result is out. 15 semi finalists were selected to be considered for the finals. Check here  to find out more about their activism.  The Challenge aims to recognize young people efforts in protecting natural resources and promoting environmental/ land resources justice. The selected finalists will be  recognized by UNCCD secretariat for their work and will be tasked to spread the UNCCD messages, in particular, creating awareness on land related issues among young people through social media. Currently, we are launching a public voting / polling to select the finalist candidates from 9 Dec - 22 December 2016. You are invited to have your say on who qualifies for the finals by casting their vote here :  http://woobox.com/6avg72. The public votes will be counted as part of the final decision of the winners. Related link: Land for Life programme

Be inspired by the 15 amazing young activists!
UNCCD Marketplace Writers Competition winner meets Monique Barbut

Russian national and one of the winners in the recently concluded Marketplace Writers Competition, Ms. Olga Sazonova paid a visit to the UNCCD Secretariat where she was welcomed by the Executive Secretary, Mrs. Monique Barbut.  Mrs. Barbut presented to Ms. Sazonova the prizes she won for placing third in the Competition with her story “Бесценные «услуги» природы” which is loosely translated in English as, “Invaluable services of nature.” Mr. Sazonova received a certificate, a UNCCD package and a cash prize for her efforts. In presenting the prizes, the Executive Secretary expressed hearty congratulations to Ms. Sazonova and thanked her for participating in the competition. She encouraged her to help promote the UNCCD in her own country and in particularly to do her part to educate Russian speaking peoples on the concept and importance of Land Degradation Neutrality. Mrs. Barbut recalled Ms. Sazonova’s academic achievements thus far, impressing upon her that she could use her skills in both English and Russian to help people have a clearer understanding of the issues of desertification, land degradation and drought. In her response, Ms. Sazonova thanked the Executive Secretary for the opportunity to meet with her and remarked how happy and excited she was to be among the winners of this international competition. She assured the Executive Secretary that she was wholly committed to the issues of sustainability; explain that it was one reason why she is in pursuit of a second Master’s in the subject. She promised not only to participate in future Marketplace competitions, but to spread the word among her friends and colleagues. She underlined that this was indeed a special occasion for her as she considers it a great honor and privilege to meet the Executive Secretary of the UNCCD. Attending the presentation were Ms. Yoon-kyoung Cho, who organized and administered the competition; Mr. Jijo Karthikeyan who provided technical assistance; and Dr. Richard Byron-Cox, Head of the Marketplace, who conceived the idea of the Marketplace Writers Competition. They too thanked Ms. Sazonova for participating in the completion, and in congratulating her reminded that the Capacity Building Marketplace is always open to the world free of cost!

UNCCD Marketplace Writers Competition winner meets Monique Barbut
UN Lays Foundation for More Drought-Resilient Societies: Meeting Urges Disaster Risk Reduction Instead of Crisis Management

Geneva, Switzerland, 15 March 2013 – A top-level United Nations conference has, for the first time, laid the foundations for practical and proactive national drought policies to increase resilience to the world’s most destructive natural hazard, which is being aggravated by climate change. The High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy marked the first globally-coordinated attempt to move towards science-based drought disaster risk reduction and break away from piecemeal and costly crisis-response, which often comes too late to avert death, displacement and destruction. The High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy marked the first globally-coordinated attempt to move towards science-based drought disaster risk reduction and break away from piecemeal and costly crisis-response, which often comes too late to avert death, displacement and destruction. The meeting issued a declaration encouraging governments to develop and implement national drought management policies consistent with their development objectives. It also provided detailed scientific and policy guidance on how to achieve this (link to declaration and science and policy documents) “Prevention must be our priority,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in a message to delegates. “Nations need urgently to develop strategies for resilience — especially for the poor, who are always hit first and worst.” The meeting on 11-15 March was organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and other partners. It brought together more than 300 government decision-makers, development agencies, and leading scientists and researchers.  His Excellency Brigi Rafini , Prime Minister of Niger, which has suffered from repeated droughts, chaired the high-level segment, which was addressed by more than 20 ministers. The Prince of Orange, chairman of the Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, gave a keynote speech on the need for integrated water management. “We have taken a major stride towards more proactive drought policies to protect lives and livelihoods. This is the first global dialogue on national drought policies and it has shown that we have the knowledge, we have the experience, and we have the determination to reduce the unacceptably high human and economic toll of drought,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “Building resilience to drought is not only a mitigation measure, but a smart investment with guaranteed high return. Post-disaster relief is way costlier than drought preparedness and risk management. Therefore, we call on governments and all stakeholders in drought-prone countries to engage in developing their national drought policies and we are ready to support them,” said UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja. “The nature of drought and its effects on key sectors such as water, agriculture, meteorology, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, etc. call for close collaboration between these sectors and beyond in order for drought management to achieve its goals. Such collaboration has, unfortunately, been lacking. It is our hope that the collaboration between a large number of partners in the context of this High-level Meeting will constitute the starting point for lifting this constraint at all levels,” said Ann Tutwiler, Special Representative of FAO to the UN organizations in Geneva. It has been estimated that droughts are the world’s costliest natural disaster, accounting for 6-8 billion US dollars annually, and impacting more people than any other form of natural disaster. Since 1900, over 11 million people have died as a result of droughts, and 2 billion people have been affected. The frequency, intensity, and duration of droughts are expected to rise as a result of climate change, with an increasing human and economic toll. . Since the 1970s, the land area affected by drought has doubled, undermining livelihoods, reversing development gains and entrenching poverty among millions of people who depend directly on the land. Women, children and the aged often pay the heaviest price. Recurrent drought waves in vulnerable regions of Africa have attracted global attention because of the famines and massive social and economic disruptions. Drought in the Sahel reduced cereal production by 26 per cent in 2012 as compared to 2011. The situation remains critical, with over 10 million people still food insecure and 1.4 million children at risk of acute malnutrition. But drought affects other regions as well, as witnessed in recent years in the United States, Russia, Europe, India, Brazil and Australia, wreaking havoc on food supplies worldwide.. Presentations at the meeting showed that proactive drought management planning is now possible following major advances in science and technology, and knowledge about sustainable land management. Varied innovations also exist for national and regional drought monitoring, early warning systems, risk-based responses as well as mitigation and coping strategies. The meeting issued a consensus declaration stressing the need for national drought management policies. Specifically, it encouraged governments to: Develop proactive drought impact mitigation, preventive and planning measures, risk management, fostering of science, appropriate technology and innovation, public outreach and resource management as key elements of effective national drought policy. Promote greater collaboration to enhance the quality of local/national/regional/global observation networks and delivery systems. Improve public awareness of drought risk and preparedness for drought. Consider, where possible within the legal framework of each country, economic instruments, and financial strategies, including risk reduction, risk sharing and risk transfer tools in drought management plans. Establish emergency relief plans based on sound management of natural resources and self-help at appropriate governance levels. Link drought management plans to local/national development policies. Better drought management is one of the priorities of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) now being implemented by governments with support from the United Nations. Climate services aim to increase drought resilience by improving climate information and services, especially for the most vulnerable. They will build on fast improving climate prediction capabilities. The GFCS aims to give global access to improved services for four initial priority sectors – food security and agriculture, water, health and disaster risk reduction – by the end of 2017. Outcomes of the high-level meeting will also be transmitted to the UNCCD Conference of Parties to be held in September 2013. Its last Conference in 2011 took a decision to formulate an advocacy policy framework on drought, taking gender-sensitive approaches into account. The High Final Declaration of the  Level Meeting on National Drought Policy (HMNDP) can be viewed here. The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nations System’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water Website: www.wmo.int For more information, please contact: Clare Nullis WMO Communications and Public Affairs E-mail: cnullis(@)wmo.int Tel: +41 22 730 8478 +41 79 7091397 (mobile) UNCCD is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment, development and the promotion of healthy soils. The Convention’s 195 signatory Parties work to alleviate poverty in the drylands, maintain and restore the land’s productivity, and mitigate the effects of drought. For more information, please contact: Wagaki Mwangi UNCCD Public Information and Media Officer Tel: +49-228-815-2820 E-mail: wmwangi@unccd.int FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, leads international efforts to eradicate hunger and build sustainable and equitable food production systems. For more information, please contact: Kimberly Sullivan Communication and Publications Officer Natural Resources Department Office of Assistant Director-General FAO Tel: +39 0657055023 E-mail: kimberly.sullivan@fao.org

UN Lays Foundation for More Drought-Resilient Societies: Meeting Urges Disaster Risk Reduction Instead of Crisis Management