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Ibrahim Thiaw announced as the new Executive Secretary of UNCCD

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, following consultations with the Bureau of the Conference of the Parties to UNCCD announced the appointment of Ibrahim Thiaw of Mauritania as the next Executive Secretary of the UNCCD. He will succeed Monique Barbut of France, to whom the Secretary-General expressed his gratitude for her outstanding commitment and dedicated service to the Organization. Mr. Thiaw brings to the position almost 40 years of experience in sustainable development, environmental governance and natural resource management.  He is currently Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for the Sahel.  From 2013 to 2018, he was Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), where he played a key role in shaping the organization’s strategic vision, mid-term strategy and programme of work, and strengthened collaborations with Governments and other environmental governing bodies, including the United Nations Environmental Assembly. Joining the United Nations in 2007, Mr. Thiaw was the Director of UNEP’s Division for Environmental Policy Implementation.  Before joining the Organization, he was the Regional Director for West Africa, and later Acting Director General, of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Mr. Thiaw started his career in Mauritania, his home country, where he served in the Ministry of Rural Development for 10 years.  He holds an advanced degree in forestry and forest product techniques. Source: UN Media Liaison

Ibrahim Thiaw announced as the new Executive Secretary of UNCCD
When the skies ran dry

Bonn, Germany – Over the past hundred years, the increase in human populations has been three times greater than during the entire previous history of mankind. More natural resources have been extracted from the earth and more land converted for cities, agriculture and industry than ever before. On this warming planet, droughts seem to have changed their nature as well, increasing in spatial extent, duration, frequency and severity. The new film "When skies ran dry," produced by Dr. Patrick Augenstein, attempts to answer the following questions: How can we more actively prepare for drought on a planet more radically altered by humans than ever before? What’s causing drought in the anthropocene and how we can confront the risks and challenges it brings? The filmmakers visit some of the world’s regions affected and altered by drought, speaking to farmers, water managers, scientists and policy makers. The project is a joint effort of UNCCD, United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security, German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, University of Bonn, Embassy of the Earth foundation and Greening Africa project.  See more: Full 40-minute version of the film Two-minute version of the film Eleven-minute version of the film UNCCD Drought Initiative

When the skies ran dry
Momentum to recover land health picks up as rural livelihoods improve

Georgetown, Guyana – Momentum to repair degraded lands and to manage droughts more effectively has picked up, according to reports released for review by an inter-governmental meeting that opened today in Georgetown, Guyana. An assessment of land degradation in 127 countries revealed that close to 20 percent of healthy land was degraded in the first 15 years of this Millennium. Globally, 169 countries are affected by land degradation, desertification or drought. In the last four years, 82 countries have set targets aiming to halt land degradation by 2030 and 44 of the 70 countries regularly hit by drought are setting up drought management plans to ensure droughts do not turn into disasters. The findings are the most comprehensive to date, with data submitted by 135 countries and an assessment of degradation monitored using Earth observations.  The Seventeenth Session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the UN’s Convention to Combat Desertification (CRIC17) taking place in Guyana will review the reports over the next three days. Their recommendations on further actions to ramp up this momentum will be tabled at the fourteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to be held on 7-18 October 2019 in New Delhi, India. Read more... 

Momentum to recover land health picks up as rural livelihoods improve
Momentum to recover land health picks up as rural livelihoods improve

Georgetown, Guyana – Momentum to repair degraded lands and to manage droughts more effectively has picked up, according to reports released for review by an inter-governmental meeting that opened today in Georgetown, Guyana. An assessment of land degradation in 127 countries revealed that close to 20 percent of healthy land was degraded in the first 15 years of this Millennium. Globally, 169 countries are affected by land degradation, desertification or drought. In the last four years, 82 countries have set targets aiming to halt land degradation by 2030 and 44 of the 70 countries regularly hit by drought are setting up drought management plans to ensure droughts do not turn into disasters. The findings are the most comprehensive to date, with data submitted by 135 countries and an assessment of degradation monitored using Earth observations.  The seventeenth Session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the UN’s Convention to Combat Desertification (CRIC17) taking place in Guyana will review the reports over the next three days. Their recommendations on further actions to ramp up this momentum will be tabled at the fourteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to be held on 2-13 September 2019 in New Delhi, India. “Momentum is with us”, announced Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the Convention, during the opening of CRIC 17.  “The first piece of good news is that we know more and more about what is going on…. how much land we have degraded globally in the first 15 years of this Millennium, how life has changed for the communities living on degraded lands, how droughts are evolving globally, the changing status of endangered biological species, and the financial resources available to address desertification,” she said. She also described as good news the reports’ findings that “in all regions, rural populations now have more access to safe drinking water, poverty has declined by 27% overall, at least 120 countries will eventually have targets to curb land degradation and there is growing interest from domestic and global private finance to invest in land management.” Ms. Barbut, who steps down as the Convention’s Executive Secretary next month, however cautioned that “aspects such as land governance, education, demography and land use planning still have a long way to go,” and called on governments not to underestimate their ability to trigger change in the most pressing areas, but to be “brave.” Joseph Harmon, Minister of State, Guyana, said “although milestones have been achieved… we still have to be steadfast in addressing land degradation.” “The continuing degradation of land and soils is a severe threat to the provision of ecosystem services and economic development globally,” he said.  Harmon said “the pressures on land are increasing due to urbanization, population growth and rising demands for food, feed, fuel and fiber. Halting land degradation is therefore a prerequisite for sustainable development,” he stressed.  Global efforts to combat desertification began in 1977. However, the rapid loss of productive land due to a combination of poor land uses and growing extreme and erratic weather effects now affects more people than ever before. Two other recent reports examined the extent and effects of land degradation on livelihoods. The Global Land Outlook released in 2017 found a persistent loss of 20 percent of the Earth’s vegetative cover from 1998-2013. The Assessment of Land Degradation released in 2018 showed that land degradation impacts over 3.2 billion people. The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change is expected to release its own assessment of the effects climate change on land degradation later this year. CRIC 17 ends Wednesday, 30 January. About UNCCD The UNCCD is an international agreement on good land stewardship. It helps people, communities and countries to create wealth, grow economies and secure enough food and water and energy, by ensuring land users have an enabling environment for sustainable land management. Through partnerships, the Convention’s 197 Parties set up robust systems to manage drought promptly and effectively. Good land stewardship based on a sound policy and science helps integrate and accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, builds resilience to climate change and prevents biodiversity loss. Notes to editors Download a factsheet of the findings from the report Download the detailed report For specific country reports, see here For interviews with UNCCD staff contact wwischnewski@unccd.int  To interview specific country delegates Opening Speech of Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary

Momentum to recover land health picks up as rural livelihoods improve
UNCCD and IPBES sign a memorandum of cooperation

Bonn, Germany – The Executive Secretary of UNCCD Ms. Monique Barbut and the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Ms. Anne Larigauderie have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation between the two organizations. The productive collaboration between UNCCD and IPBES has already resulted in such landmark products as the Global Land Outlook and the assessment on land degradation and restoration. The new memorandum will formalize this partnership, helping to coordinate the science and action that address the full spectrum of environmental issues behind climate change. "In this memorandum, we are witnessing the start of real alignment between land, climate and biodiversity as we move toward 2030," Ms. Barbut said. See more: Full text of agreement Signing ceremony and complete remarks Global Land Outlook UNCCD welcomes IPBES assessment on land degradation and restoration

UNCCD and IPBES sign a memorandum of cooperation
Record number of countries takes on target of achieving LDN

In a positive environmental turn, a record 120 countries are in the process of setting voluntary land degradation neutrality (LDN) targets that could reduce the loss of productive land dramatically by 2030. At least 80 countries have already set targets, whose implementation could reverse land degradation globally, contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15, Life on Land, and build the resilience of communities threatened by extreme and erratic weather events such as droughts, flashfloods and dust and sand storms. Achieving LDN is vital to maintaining healthy lands and the sustainability of the ecosystem services the land provides. LDN is a key element of SDG target 15.3, and is recognized as an accelerator for achieving several other SDGs by 2030, including those on reducing hunger and poverty and tackling climate change.  By 2015, more than a third of the land available globally was degraded, and a recent report found that 20 per cent of the Earth’s vegetated land surface showed persistent declining trends from 1998 to 2013. By setting a voluntary target to achieve LDN by 2030, a government declares its willingness to ensure that the amount of productive land that was available in 2015 stays stable going forward. The setting of voluntary LDN targets has received a high level of interest and political commitment in many countries. National and international stakeholders and experts on land degradation, from government, the public and private sectors and civil society, jointly analysed the drivers of land degradation in their respective countries and defined the LDN targets and associated measures.  The process was participatory and consultative. It was coordinated through LDN working groups, which created opportunities for the stakeholders to engage in a national dialogue on land degradation and to find measures to integrate LDN into national policies and development strategies.  A majority of the countries also applied the latest geospatial and technical data on land degradation for the first time, which is strengthening national capacities to address the issue.   The target setting process also created an opportunity for countries to leverage current actions to avoid, reduce, or reverse land degradation and to mobilise finance from national and international partners to scale up LDN implementation. The Global Mechanism (GM) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification supported countries under the Target Setting Programme to set the voluntary LDN targets. The Programme, established in 2015 by the GM and the UNCCD secretariat with the support of 18 international partners, was a response to a request from country Parties to the Convention to provide guidance to interested countries on formulating targets to achieve LDN. The GM is still supporting many countries involved in the Target Setting Programme to access financing opportunities, such as the GEF-7 cycle, and to develop transformative projects and programmes that will help them to achieve the LDN targets and advance the achievement of other SDGs. Details of the LDN targets, as well as country reports on the target setting process and the country commitments to achieve LDN, are now available on the UNCCD Knowledge Hub. Further reports will be added once they become available. Read More: LDN Target Setting Programme LDN Target Setting Building Blocks Official Document ICCD/CRIC(17)/3 on “Progress made in setting voluntary national targets in support of land degradation neutrality implementation. Report by the Global Mechanism” Land and SDGs Photo: Þjórsárver, by Hugi Ólafsson

Record number of countries takes on target of achieving LDN