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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
Fourteen Semi-Finalists of the Land for Life Award Announced

Bonn, Germany, 20 May 2014 – The 14 semi-finalists for this year's Land for Life Award unveiled today are from Afghanistan, Canada, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Peru, Togo, Turkey, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.  Their work ranges from scientific breakthroughs on reversing desertification to combining indigenous agriculture knowledge with modern techniques for soil fertility. Launched by the UNCCD for the first time in 2011, the Land for Life Award will recognize efforts that promote the natural health and productivity of the earth’s soils.  These efforts are lifesaving and provide sustainability and a better life for all, particularly to the poorest communities in the world.   Winners who will share a prize fund of up to 100,000 USD will be announced on 17 June during the global observance event of the World Day to Combat Desertification to be held in Washington D.C. The event will be webcast live. The Award drew interest from people working in all regions of the world, signifying the global scope of land degradation and individual as well as collaborative initiatives to recover the productivity of the land.  The individual, NGO, government, business, media and other applicants all demonstrate a strong commitment to manage the land sustainably. The winners will be selected by a jury with expertise in sustainable land management. It includes personalities like Dr. Vandana Shiva, a renowned seed sovereignty activist from India and Professor Joachim von Braun, Director of the Center for Development Research (ZEF) University of Bonn among others experts drawn from government, the UNCCD, civil society and academia. The fourteen semi-finalists are: Abellon CleanEnergy, India Abellon supports and works with rural communities to generate value from waste, provides enhanced income and employment to enable higher productivity and efficiency through agricultural best practices training.  It buys biomass from farmers to produce bio-pellets/bio-power for bioenergy generation that replaces fossil fuels like coal and lignite. Adi-Shimhabty, Eritrea A remarkable village works together using scientifically sound techniques to improve the environment and conditions in which they live.  The community has established permanent land closures, all from their own land and conducts joint activities such as terracing, checking dams and land leveling.  They have converted what was virtually barren land to 95% recovered vegetation. This example of unity and action to improve their own lives has become a model for the neighbor villages to solve life threatening issues.  Africa Centre for Holistic Management (ACHM), Zimbabwe The majority of rural communities in Zimbabwe are situated on dry rangelands.  ACHM provides training and support to local and international communities in Holistic Land and Livestock Management (HLLM) programs to properly manage livestock for the restoration of degraded range and croplands suffering from severe degradation and drought.  Agro-pastoralists who depend upon these lands for survival use HLLM to improve the quality of their soil, raise the water-table, increase crop yields and raise healthier cattle. AGIDE, Togo AGIDE demonstrates the overwhelming benefits of mushrooms in making natural fertilizer.  This further improves soil fertility and crop yields and creates a natural biocide that improves pest and disease resistance. Mushroom cultivation and consumption was a traditional aspect of rural life in parts of Togo that had almost died out until AGIDE began training villagers, particularly women, on how to grow mushrooms and make the compost and biocide, and use these products to improve soil and crop yields. Carbon Green Africa, Zimbabwe The turmoil in Zimbabwe’s agricultural production and population growth has led to significant damage to forests from overexploitation.  This is risking its fertile land into becoming desert in northern Zimbabwe. Carbon Green Africa’s project Kariba RED++ addressed deforestation risks through food security conservation farming, fire management, participatory territorial planning, and alternative livelihood generation, and wildlife protection for ecotourism. Chirapaq, Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú Chirapaq incorporates sustainable technologies with ancient knowledge for the production of Andean crops, ensuring a way for comprehensive food security with sovereignty for the indigenous Ayacucho Quechua families.  They produce organic fertilizer to improve soil quality and conservation of rainwater in the soil. The Conservation Organisation for Afghan Mountains Areas (COAM), Afghanistan COAM Afghanistan has made outstanding achievements under the challenging conditions of a country in transition. COAM uses ‘clean cook stoves’, which not only reduces the pressure for natural resources on vulnerable arid rangelands by 50%, it also provides health and livelihood benefits for women and families. Drynet, Turkey Drynet brings together different actors to generate outcomes on a larger scale.  It has created a bridge between local communities, scientists, national and international policy makers and provides sustainable development tools for dryland communities.  It serves as a hub for local knowledge, practice and scientific research and an advocate for sustainable natural resources management by local communities in national and international policy processes. Green Asia Network (GAN), Korea In the arid lands of Mongolia, the Green Asia Network has trained 2,800 locals in forestry practices and sustainable agriculture to restore degraded lands and improve the livelihoods of 14,000 people. GAN has also brought together over 25,000 volunteers (Mongolian: 21,700, Korean: 3,700) to work on sustainable land management projects.  Some 450,000 trees at six sites (total of 450 hectares) have been planted in Mongolia. GAN also operates eco-tours, giving an upfront look at climate change impact and allows participants to work on forestry projects. They have upcoming projects planned in Myanmar. Excellent Development, UK Transforming countless lives in drylands across East Africa, Excellent Development offers technical support for rural communities to build sand dams. Sand dams are benefitting communities in water use for livestock, domestic use and crop production and in coping with drought.  Water held in the dam spreads horizontally, recharging the aquifer, allowing trees and other fauna to grow and restore degraded lands. They have projects in many dryland regions of the world. Irob Community – the soil makers, Ethiopia Characterized by rugged and stony mountains in this geographical location of Ethiopia, there is little land suitable for farming.  Through hard work the communities are reclaiming farmland from valleys and gorges by building check dams and bench terraces.  Using indigenous techniques, the Irob Community has managed to generate almost non-existent farmlands and transformed them from a predominantly vulnerable pastoralism to a more resilient livelihood based on flood trapping and irrigation based agriculture in the face of overwhelming challenges brought by climate change. Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), India NCF works with agro-pastoralists in the high altitude areas of the Himalayas, an area that is home to unique plant and animal species.  NCF’s research in rangeland health has informed national policies and led to innovative community-based programs to improve soil health, increase water security, reduce livestock grazing pressures and protect this unique ecosystem. Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment – SCOPE, Pakistan Tharparkar of Pakistan is a drought prone region where a failed rainy season can cause a drought situation resulting in massive crop and livestock failure. Since its creation, SCOPE has carried out many activities in this region which include rainwater harvesting, rangeland management and enhancing agro forestry practices and has alleviated some of the suffering caused by food insecurity and malnutrition. Taking Root, Canada There was little incentive for agroforestry in Nicaragua due to the lack of missing markets for forest and non-timber forest products.  Since Taking Root was established, agroforestry has now become economically viable for smallholders.  This project takes a landscape approach. It considers how all the farms can work together within the landscape to reforest critical watersheds.  Smallholders are encouraged to reforest the under-utilized and degraded parts of their farms in exchange for direct payments over time as the trees deliver ecosystem services. For more information, click here. About the Land for Life Award The 2014 Land for Life award is a collaboration between the UNCCD and the Korea Forest Service, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Global Environment Facility, International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the Elion Resources Group, China. About the UNCCD Desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Established in 1994, 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. Or contact: Mary Kapiniaris L4L@unccd.int +49 (0) 228 815 2830

Fourteen Semi-Finalists of the Land for Life Award Announced