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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
UNCCD Announces 2014 Winners of Land for Life Award

Top sustainable land management prize totaling USD 70,000 goes to development organizations in Afghanistan and Republic of Korea Washington D.C., United States, June 17 2014 – For the third year running, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has announced the winners of the 2014 Land for Life Award with a USD70,000 cash award, to two organizations that showed tangible evidence in combating desertification, land degradation and drought. The announcement was made during the worldwide celebrations of the World Day to Combat Desertification taking place today. Conservation Organisation for Afghan Mountains Areas (COAM) from Afghanistan and Green Asia Network (GAN) from the Republic of Korea will share the first prize award of USD 35,000 each. COAM is a non-governmental organization working in Afghanistan. Green Asia Network works in Mongolia but plans to expand its work across other dryland Asian countries. H.E. Mr Uahekua Herunga, Minister of Tourism and Environment of Namibia and the President the UNCCD 11th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP), announced the winners at the global observance event of the World Day taking place at the World Bank Headquarters, in Washington D.C., United States. The village of Adi Shimhabty in Eritrea received a special mention from the jury for its achievements in involving the community to regenerate degraded land in Eritrea’s dryland areas. “The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and its partner organizations recognize the champions of sustainable land management in a variety of ways – including the Land for Life Award” said Ms. Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary, UNCCD. “These are the people, mostly fantastic civil society leaders, who promote grassroots action and keep the land healthy and productive” she added.  The Award’s independent jury is made up of sustainable development experts from academia, government and civil society, among them, Professor Joachim von Braun, Director of the Centre for Development Research (ZEF) University of Bonn and Dr. Mary Seely from the Desert Research Foundation in Namibia. Notes to Editors:  Below is a summary about the winners, a quote from each organization and from Ms. Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary, UNCCD. The Conservation Organisation for Afghan Mountains Areas (COAM), Afghanistan Decades of war, extreme poverty and severe climate conditions in Afghanistan have led to severely degraded range-lands that are at risk of desertification. COAM’s interventions include the introduction of solar water heaters, bio-briquettes, tree planting, gravity-fed irrigation systems and watershed management planning. Their ‘clean cook stoves’ and other green technologies reduce the pressure on natural resources in vulnerable rangelands by 50% and provides health and livelihood benefits for women and families. Over 300 villages with more than 3000 households located in two districts in Bamyan province have benefitted directly. These are outstanding achievements under the challenging conditions of a country in transition. The work is driven by experienced youth and values the role of women in sustainable land management.  Quote from COAM: “COAM is greatly honored and thrilled to receive the Land for Life Award.” said the Execitive Director of COAM, Ms. Habiba Amiri.  “I want to take this occasion to thank all the people who have been supported, helped, and worked very hard to move COAM forward for the better application of its aim in Afghanistan. And of course a special thanks and appreciation to the UNCCD for selecting COAM as the first winner of Land for Life Award.” Green Asia Network (GAN), Republic of Korea  In Mongolia, 78% of the land is affected by desertification. This is life threatening because Mongolia depends a lot on livestock farming. GAN concentrates on three areas – the environment, society and economy. It is promoting self-reliance by creating a variety of economic opportunities for affected people at the local level. GAN has trained thousands of locals in forestry practices and sustainable agriculture and engaged as many as 25,000 volunteers to plant trees in the region among other activities.  Participants receive a wage. GAN also operates eco-tours that provide a close view of climate change impacts and allows participants to work on forestry project initiatives. Some of GAN’s participants are eco-refugees that return from the urban areas to the countryside. Upon their return, many are astounded at the transformation of the land they had once abandoned. GAN plans to expand its work to Myanmar, with a focus on building local infrastructure such as tube wells, generators, water tanks and fencing among other activities. Quote from GAN: "Climate change and desertification have affected low land productivity causing poverty in local communities. Since 1998, Green Asia Network has worked to improve the livelihoods of these affected communities and to restore the ecosystem by applying a model, which we developed,” said the Secretary General of Green Asia Network, Mr. Oh, Ki-Chul, “This model can be applied to areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America that are facing similar conditions. We are honored to receive the first place Land for Life Award. It encourages the local communities we work with, our staff and our volunteers, all of whom are dedicated and committed to our work." About the Land for Life Award The Land for Life award programme is a collaborative initiative between the UNCCD and the Korea Forest Service, Elion Resources Group, China, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Global Environment Facility, International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Qatar National Food Security Programme. 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 Parties work to alleviate poverty in the drylands, maintain and restore the land’s productivity, and mitigate the effects of drought.

UNCCD Announces 2014 Winners of Land for Life Award