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Land Degradation Neutrality target setting process taking off in Africa

Representatives of more than 30 African countries met in Konya, Turkey, from 28-30 May to discuss the game plan to launch the land degradation neutrality (LDN) target setting process in Africa. Facilitated by the Global Mechanism and the Secretariat of the UNCCD, hosted by the Turkish Government as President of the Bureau of the UNCCD Conference of Parties, and supported by a multitude of bilateral and multilateral partners, the workshop enabled African countries to understand the key building blocks to defining national voluntary LDN targets and identifying transformative LDN projects and programmes. “LDN is becoming a vehicle to bring together development agendas – from food security to climate action - that so far, have been separate”, said Mr Markus Repnik, Managing Director of the Global Mechanism, in his opening speech. Reminding participants that “climate finance is rapidly becoming a major source of finance for LDN”, Mr Repnik underlined his expectation that the LDN target setting process will support countries to tap into such innovative sources of finance, taking into account the climate finance objective of USD 100 billion per year by 2020. The UNCCD's GM's LDN Target Setting Programme supports countries to define LDN baselines, targets and associated measures to achieve LDN by 2030 as called upon by the Sustainable Development Goals. It furthermore helps countries to create leverage at country level by making the country specific LDN business case, implanting LDN in selected high profile national policies and commitments, ensuring stakeholder engagement at the highest possible level as well as identifying opportunities for the development of transformative LDN projects and programmes. The workshop is part of a global initiative of the UNCCD Secretariat and Global Mechanism supporting more than 90 countries in achieving LDN. The next regional workshop on LDN target setting will take place from 5 to 6 June 2016 in Batumi, Georgia, for the Central and eastern European and Central Asian countries. More than 60 participants met in Konya, Turkey to discuss a game plan to launch the LDN target setting process in Africa.   Related Links: Workshop Report (EN) (736.59 KB) Workshop Report (FR) (1.01 MB)

Land Degradation Neutrality target setting process taking off in Africa
African Countries Accelerate Progress on Great Green Wall

Ministers from African countries North and South of the Sahara and their development partners have agreed to accelerate progress on the Great Green Wall, Africa’s largest rural development initiative, during a High-Level conference in Dakar, Senegal. The Conference, which was organized by the African Union together with key partners including the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD from 3-7 May 2016, follows on from the recent Global Climate Summit (COP21) in Paris, where world leaders and key development partners pledged an additional USD 4 billion to the Great Green Wall over the next 5 years.   The renewed commitments offer fresh hope that the bold ambition of the Great Green Wall – to transform the lives of the Continent’s poorest people by restoring the productivity of its degraded landscapes – can now become a reality. “A decade after the initiative started – originally amidst a lot of scepticism – today the Great Green Wall stands as one of the most innovative and daring endeavours in human history – a real ‘world wonder’.” said Janet Edeme, on behalf of Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner of the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission. With 46% of African land currently affected by land degradation, jeopardizing the livelihoods of nearly 65% of the Continent’s population – the planned action along the Great Green Wall is certainly timely. In 2015, more than 20 million people in the Sahel were food insecure. Most of the poor and hungry live in rural areas and a major part of their income comes from agriculture. Moreover, the excess unskilled labour arriving from rural areas can no longer easily be absorbed in cities already at bursting point. To address the lack of opportunities, economic migrants with the resources to do so are undertaking long journeys, frequently under desperate conditions. Many risk their lives in search of a better life on the European continent. Millions more are expected to follow imminently, as climate change amplifies the threat posed by an already declining natural resource base. “Every day on news stations around the world, we see the impact that land degradation is having in the Sahel”, highlighted Camilla Nordheim-Larsen of the Global Mechanism of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. “Flash floods in Niger, the Boko Haram massacres in the Lake Chad region, food crises in the Horn of Africa, and terrorist attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso. At their root, all of these can be traced back to a cycle of poverty and lack of opportunity that is fuelled by the declining productivity of natural resources.’’ Amidst these urgent challenges, the Great Green Wall promises to be a compelling part of the solution; by providing people with improved economic prospects, a cushion against climate change, a reason to stay for unemployed youth set to migrate from the region, whilst helping to restore political stability. Indeed, since the Initiative’s launch in 2007 by African Heads of State, significant progress has already been recorded. For example in Senegal, more than 11 million trees have been planted, in Nigeria 20,000 jobs have been created in rural areas and in Ethiopia 15 million hectares of degraded land have been restored. “We all understand that the Great Green Wall Initiative is more than just a green belt: it is a strategy for maximizing the opportunities of the Sahara and Sahel region, through real involvement of communities and local governments”, affirmed Abdoulaye Balde, Senegal Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development. “Our survival now depends on our efforts and convictions.” The Conference culminated in the ‘Dakar Declaration’, which Ministers and key development partners agreed would act as a roadmap for defining the way forward to help the Great Green Wall realize its full potential as a lifeline for the Continent’s poorest people, not just to survive but to thrive once more on their ancestral lands.   Related links: Great Green Wall Brochure (1.21 MB)

African Countries Accelerate Progress on Great Green Wall
Virtual Reality Experience Shown at Launch of First Global Report on ‘State of the World’s Plants’

The Global Mechanism has showcased its groundbreaking Virtual Reality (VR) experience on Africa’s Great Green Wall, at an international symposium organized to coincide with the first global report on the State of the World’s Plants. The landmark event, organized by the Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew, was opened by Lord Gardiner of the UK Parliament on 11 May 2016, in London. The State of the World’s Plants report provides for the first time a baseline assessment of our current knowledge on the diversity of plants on earth, the global threats these plants currently face, and the policies dealing with them. Kew’s State of the World’s Plants will set an important standard from which we can annually track trends in biodiversity for years to come. The VR experience, ‘Growing a world wonder’, formed a key focus for the event showing international policymakers, scientific experts and parliamentarians, the impact plants can have on people’s lives in tackling the urgent challenges facing humanity, including food security and climate change. The film itself, which is shot in 360 degrees using high-powered drones, focuses on the story of an 8 year old girl called Binta, whose community in Northern Senegal are transforming their future prospects through the implementation of the project. Speaking at the event, the Global Mechanism’s Camilla Nordheim-Larsen, highlighted that ‘The Great Green Wall is a compelling example of the impact that plants can have on people’s lives, where communities in one of the world’s poorest regions - the Sahel - live off what the land produces for their every day survival’. Kew has been actively involved in the Great Green Wall for the past few years, with a specific responsibility in selecting many of the drought resistant species grown along the wall, particularly those with an economic use for local communities. As a public institution with 2 million visitors a year from around the globe, the UNCCD and Kew are expanding their partnership with a series of upcoming events this summer to educate the general public about the Great Green Wall including through pioneering Virtual Reality.   Related links: Virtual Reality film Partners: ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS OF KEW  

Virtual Reality Experience Shown at Launch of First Global Report on ‘State of the World’s Plants’
Unlocking the Investment Potential of Forest & Landscape Restoration

“Eighty percent of the potential land suitable for forest and landscape restoration (FLR) can be found in drylands”, said Eduardo Rojas, Assistant Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), during the closing session of a two-days expert consultation on Private investments in Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR), co-organized by FAO and the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD on 30 June and 1 July 2015 in Rome, Italy. Rojas also underlined that FLR contributes to the provision of livelihood opportunities for communities in rural areas and the reduction of forced migration. The workshop brought together some 30 international experts from multilateral, bilateral and non-governmental organizations, research institutes and the private sector to identify ways for increasing private sector investments in FLR. Currently, it is estimated that 12 million hectares of land are degraded every year, resulting in a total stock of more than two billion hectares of degraded land that offer opportunities for restoration, and three quarters of this area being suitable for mosaic restoration.  Initiatives around the world aim at up-scaling FLR in order to contribute to global ecosystem restoration goals and promote land degradation neutrality. Impact investors like the Moringa Fund invest in agroforestry systems such as coffee plantations in order to promote sound and viable management strategies at landscape level. Private companies such as EcoPlanet Bamboo promote largescale bamboo restoration for the production of fibre. At the same time, regional initiatives such as TerrAfrica in Africa and “Initiative 20 by 20” in Latin America, as well as national initiatives such as Payment for Environmental Services for sustainable cork oak production in Portugal, supported by WWF and Coca Cola, offer a variety of mechanisms to upscale investments in FLR. The workshop identified concrete opportunities to upscale FLR, for example through aggregating financial resources at landscape level, bringing together different stakeholders and sectors involved, thus preventing inter-sectoral or resource-use conflicts. However, participants also highlighted that certain key conditions must be in place in order to tap into increased finance for FLR, including an adequate enabling investment environment, the existence of local champions with the necessary skills, and the availability of bankable investment proposals that focus on promising value chains within landscapes. Missing information on possible returns on investments (e.g. ex-ante cost benefit analysis) as well as investment risk assessment and mitigation mechanisms, unclear tenure situation, and lack of coherence among possible investors and landowners/users have been highlighted among the key barriers that need to be overcome for increased investments in FLR. In order to identify key action required to upscale FLR, FAO and the GM of the UNCCD – through its Rome Liaison Office - established a partnership to deliver a Discussion Paper on “Sustainable Finance for FLR”. The paper will review best available information, discuss issues and success stories related to FLR funding, and assess opportunities to increase access to financing in support to FLR implementation at scale. The workshop report and the Discussion Paper will be made available soon on the FAO and GM websites. All the material from the workshop, including background papers and presentations, is also available via at the links below.   Related links: Workshop materials and presentations The FAO FLR Mechanism The Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration The Bonn Challenge

Unlocking the Investment Potential of Forest & Landscape Restoration
The Global Mechanism supports forest and landscape restoration processes

“The UNCCD and its 195 country Parties work with a broad range of stakeholders not only to protect and sustainably manage land resources, but also to rehabilitate degraded land. On 20 and 21 March, the Bonn Challenge 2.0   – a high level summit – brought together governments and international organizations committed to achieving a clear vision: to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020. Of the 2 billion hectares with restoration potential, identified by the Bonn Challenge, 75% are considered mixed-use or “working” landscapes, in which people manage the land as a mosaic of multiple uses, increasing productivity in a sustainable manner while protecting natural capital for future generations. With the Bonn Challenge as a backdrop, the Global Mechanism (GM) of the UNCCD hosted two meetings which contributed to this process and also promoted relevant operational synergies between UNCCD priorities and those of relevant partner institutions working on forest and landscape restoration efforts at the country level: On 19 and 20 March, the GM hosted a meeting of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR), of which it is a member. This technical meeting brought together representatives from IUCN, UNEP, WRI, USDA Forest Service, the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, IUFRO, FAO, UNEP-WCMC, CIFOR, the CBD secretariat, ICRAF, and the GM/UNCCD.  It took stock of the work of GPFLR members to date, and discussed how this partnership could evolve in the near future in order to best mobilize the knowledge and expertise of its members in support of forest and landscape restoration activities on the ground. On 21 March, the GM also hosted a meeting of the Forest Ecosystem Restoration Initiative (FERI), bringing together representatives from the CBD secretariat, the Republic of Korea’s Forest Service, Biodiversity International, UNEP-WCMC, IUFRO, FAO, CIFOR, ICRAF, ITTO, IUCN, the GEF, WRI, and the GM/UNCCD. Following the official launch of FERI at the CBD COP 12 in Korea in October 2014, this was its first operational meeting, which further defined the involvement of relevant partner organizations and the scope of upcoming activities, including the organization of relevant capacity building workshops, the assessment of degradation and restoration potential at (sub)national level, and the provision and coordination of technical support.”

The Global Mechanism supports forest and landscape restoration processes