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Land degradation neutrality in Small Island Developing States

The Global Mechanism of the UNCCD and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with multiple partners, have published the Briefing note and Technical report Land Degradation Neutrality in Small Island Developing States. The report presents the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) vision created by Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and shows how SIDS are linking their sustainable land management agendas with areas relevant to achieving their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More specifically, the report addresses two key policy areas: Fostering policy coherence by integrating national priorities and other commitments into the LDN targets: improving livelihoods and reducing poverty (SDG 1), food and water security (SDGs 2 and 6), and climate change mitigation and adaptation (SDG 13)  Preventing migration and conflict (SDG 16) and safeguarding life on land (SDG 15) The key messages from the report: Land degradation undermines the economic potential in SIDS because it exacerbates the environmental vulnerabilities unique to SIDS, such as climate change, flash floods, soil erosion, lagoon siltation, coastal erosion and sea level rise LDN contributes to achieving multiple SDGs in SIDS, preserving biodiversity and increasing resilience to climate change Using high-resolution data is an important step for SIDS Building partnerships is key to ensuring big actions for small islands Investment in land will be important for SIDS to drive transformational change, and synergies across all sectors are needed SIDS are progressing towards translating LDN commitments into actions, with a focus on the sustainable management of forests, agriculture and land use planning Land-use management and the urbanization process are very complex issues for SIDS due to their limited land resources. The adverse effects of climate change and land degradation now pose an existential threat to SIDS. Thus, achieving Land Degradation Neutrality is a practical and effective means for SIDS to achieve multiple SDGs, including land-based adaptation and mitigation actions to address the challenges posed by climate change. Under the Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Programme (LDN TSP) of the UNCCD, 24 SIDS have committed to establish LDN targets and associated measures. They will use the best available data on land degradation trends and baselines, adopt informed sustainable land management policies and practices, engage all relevant stakeholders, and identify concrete opportunities for implementing LDN Transformative Projects and Programmes on the ground. LDN Target Setting Programme participant SIDS include Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Cape Verde, Comoros, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mauritius, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Suriname, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago. Read more: Technical report Land Degradation Neutrality in Small Island Developing States Briefing note Land Degradation Neutrality in Small Island Developing States Achieving LDN LDN target setting programme  

Land degradation neutrality in Small Island Developing States
Guidelines for Land Degradation Neutrality published

The GEF Scientific and Advisory Panel (GEF STAP) has released the Guidelines for Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN). LDN aims to preserve land resources by ensuring no net loss of healthy and productive land through a combination of measures that avoid, reduce and reverse land degradation. Achieving neutrality requires estimating the likely impacts of land-use and land management decisions, then counterbalancing anticipated losses through strategically planned rehabilitation or restoration of degraded land within the same land type. LDN can only be achieved through coordinated efforts to integrate its objectives with land-use planning and land management, underpinned by sound understanding of the human-environment system and effective governance mechanisms.  The technical report was written by Annette Cowie in close collaboration with Graciela Metternicht, both former UNCCD SPI members. The document was prepared in close consultation to ensure continuity with the LDN Conceptual Framework as well as guidance developed by the Global Mechanism of UNCCD. The timeliness of the publication reflects the fact that land use change and destruction of natural habitats is the primary indirect driver behind emerging infectious diseases. The no-net loss approach of LDN is a holistic policy response to optimizing land use decisions that can keep food, energy and nature in balance. Read more: Guidelines for Land Degradation Neutrality Achieving LDN

Guidelines for Land Degradation Neutrality published
Earth Day 2020 keynote by Ibrahim Thiaw

Dear friends, We are all living through a difficult period at the moment, so thank you for taking the time to engage in this important event. Fifty years ago today, Americans mobilized the world to demand a new contract with nature. Earth Day was born. The very name of this day, of our planet, tells us a lot about who we are as a species. We are creatures of the earth, the soil, the land. Without healthy and productive land, we could not live. Can you even imagine a planet on which nothing grew? No crops. No grass. No trees. It is unthinkable. And yet we, the people of the earth, do not treat the land with the respect it deserves. As humanity grows larger and wealthier, agriculture, urban spaces and infrastructure are eating into the land. Almost three quarters of all land has been transformed from its natural state, and the pace of conversion is accelerating. Two billion hectares of once productive land, an area larger than South America, has been degraded, adversely affecting billions of people. The health and productivity of existing arable land is declining, accelerated by climate change. This has caused many problems and is storing up more for the future. An inability to feed growing populations. Falling biodiversity and shrinking ecosystems, hitting the planet’s ability to provide basic services. Accelerating climate change. Our unhealthy relationship with the land, with nature, is also in part responsible for the COVID-19 crisis.   COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a virus that spilled over from a wild animal to humans. It has wreaked havoc on lives, livelihoods, economies and communities. It signals that our social contract with nature is a global priority now, more than ever before. It tells us that land health, ecosystem health and human health are tied together. Ladies and Gentlemen, Since Earth Day was created, we have put in place many systems and processes to try and arrest the decline of land.   We have the Rio Conventions on biodiversity, desertification and climate change, and its Paris Agreement. We have the Global Goals. These are all milestones to be proud of. If we are being honest, though, we have to say that the world has yet to deliver on the promises made under these agreements. We need to mobilize the world to forge a stronger, healthier and more productive life in harmony with nature for years to come. Today, as part of these efforts, we are going to specifically look at agriculture and climate change. In this regard, let me offer three insights. Insight one   Agriculture is hugely vulnerable to climate change, but it is also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, when fully accounted for, emissions from agriculture are much higher than generally reported. Agricultural emissions are not 23 percent, but 37 percent, of all emissions when you add the pre- and post-production costs. Costs such as refrigeration, food transportation or fertilizer production. Insight two Globalization means that land degradation today is driven, primarily, by poor land uses to provide for distant, not local, consumers; for example, urban or foreign consumers.   This removes the oversight consumers had over their local ecosystems, ensuring they functioned well. This disconnect is aiding agricultural emissions. Insight three Land-based mitigation actions are effective now, not later because this potential falls with every year of delayed action. What’s more, harnessing that potential now brings additional benefits that go beyond mitigation. Enhancing land anywhere enhances health and life everywhere. Ladies and Gentlemen,   Fundamentally, the challenge we face with agriculture is one of land management. We need to produce more food for growing populations while reducing emissions. We need to do so without further expanding and degrading land. To do so, we need to sustainably manage the land. With this in mind, please allow me to lay out four pathways to a meaningful social contract with nature in the context of agriculture, land-use and climate change. The first pathway is treating land as a limiting factor in our development and land-use planning processes.   Much of human development has been built on the idea that the planet is limitless. A field stops producing? Slash and burn the forest to create a new one. Cities getting overcrowded? Expand out into the countryside. Roads are too busy? Widen existing roads or build new ones. We can’t keep doing this. If natural land continues to be converted for agriculture to feed a projected global population of 10 billion, only 10 per cent of natural land will be left by 2050.   Continuing with business as usual will increase land emissions while stripping the land’s capacity to sequester carbon. All development must be based on the idea that land is a limiting factor. This brings us to the second pathway, which is, improving the use of existing land As demand for agricultural land grows, tradeoffs among competing objectives in land grow too. But we must not burn our way to prosperity and damage the land systems we live off.     Instead, let us forge global partnerships that promise a more prosperous future by ensuring we plan and use our land well; doing the right things in the right place at the right scales. For example, planning urban spaces so that they don’t encroach on agricultural land. And by ensuring we only use the land we have already converted. We need to incentivize agricultural techniques that keep land heathy or recover lost productivity – such as conservation agriculture and agroforestry. Sustainable land management techniques keep land productive, produce more with less, and slow land conversion. The third pathway is recovering what has been lost.      We are gearing up for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. I have more good news. The land-degradation neutrality targets nations are setting under the convention I head foresee great restoration plans. The restoration of land is central to healthy agriculture, a cooler planet, restoring biodiversity and re-igniting economic growth at a time of great economic turmoil. Let me explain with an example. The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative involves 11 African countries. It’s an 8,000-kilometer long ecosystem innovation along the southern border of the Sahara Desert: from Dakar, Senegal, on Africa’s west coast; to Djibouti by the Red Sea, on the east. This programme is sequestering carbon in the soil – up to 250 million tonnes of carbon – through new vegetation cover and increased organic matter. But it’s doing a whole lot more. It’s improving access to water, food and energy for communities that typically lived off wild plants, trees and animals. Partnerships with ethical supply chains from Europe and the United States are helping poor households to produce, sustainably, goods for local and global consumption. Local governments are creating jobs for the young people that terrorists preyed on. And rural women are owning land.   Inspired by this model, parties to our convention are replicating it widely, in what they often refer to as achieving land degradation neutrality. The fourth pathway is encouraging more responsible consumption and production What we buy, where we buy it and how we use it has a massive impact on the land. One-third of all food produced each year is lost or wasted. This is a footprint of 1.4 billion hectares, close to 30 per cent of the world’s agricultural land area. But it isn’t just food. Food with a large environmental footprint and throwaway fashion are also damaging the land. Changing our diets and shopping behaviours can free up land and lower carbon emissions. Dietary change alone can free up between 80 and 240 million hectares of land. We must change attitudes to consumption and production – as the UNCCD is doing with this year’s Desertification and Drought Day in June, by encouraging people to look at sustainable use of food, feed and fibre. But personal choices will only matter where they are backed by full transparency in the value chain, allowing consumers to make the right choices. Business must step up too. Ladies and gentlemen, Time is running on, so let me conclude with a challenge to young people, who are the torchbearers of sustainable development.   Children, young people and millennials make up 77 percent of the global population. You are the future. But even if this future is one of cities and technology, you are still people of the earth. Without land, you will have nothing. What personal choices will you make for the recovery effort from COVID-19 and for a healthier planet? I urge you, and everyone else, to recommit to what Earth Day is all about and mobilize the world to create a healthier future for all. Thank you! Download the speech

Earth Day 2020 keynote by Ibrahim Thiaw
UN statement on youth and COVID-19

UN Inter Agency Network on Youth Development (UN IANYD) has issued a statement that calls for a stronger partnership with young people who have a tremendous potential to take action and fight the COVID-19 crisis. The statement calls attention to the specific impact that the pandemic has on young people, noting that the response to the global crisis must take into consideration young people's specific needs.  Young people are already part of the solution, proactively combating the spread of the virus and working to address the pandemic’s impacts. For example, they are spreading the word about combating misinformation and stigma related to the crisis, and about measures to stop the spread of the virus. Young people are also connecting communities at a time of separation through innovative ideas and social media platforms to raise community spirit.  Young health professionals and students are risking their lives on the front lines of the pandemic. Young farmers and rural entrepreneurs are innovating and using various technologies and communication tools to develop local solutions. These work is critical to maintain supply chains and build alternate, more resilient and inclusive economies, which are vital to ensure access to an adequate food supply for the population. For the world to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic in a sustainable and equitable way, young people need support to reach their full potential and thrive. In the fight against the virus and during the post-pandemic recovery, youth development should remain a top priority. UN IANYD remains committed to the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the World Programme of Action for Youth and the UN Youth Strategy. Respect for all human rights – including economic, social, cultural, civil and political – is fundamental to the success of public response and recovery from the pandemic. Read more: Full statement UNCCD and civil society organizations

UN statement on youth and COVID-19
Earth Day 2020: message from Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw

50 years ago people mobilized the world to demand a new social contract with nature. Earth Day was born. Today, our social contract is put in jeopardy. The current COVID-19 crisis is showing how much we depend on each other as well as on other species and nature for our health, food systems and livelihoods. We obtain more than 99.7% of our food from land. For many people and communities in the world, land is the source of livelihoods and the only safety net in the time of crisis. We need to protect nature and continually promote healthy landscapes. And we also need to build back stronger, and smarter, in ways that are healthy, safe, green, just and more resilient. Let us use our strength to fight COVID-19. Let us recommit to what Earth Day is all about. Let us rise again for a new social contract with nature! Happy Earth Day everyone. Read the keynote statement of Ibrahim Thiaw on agricultural and climate change at the Earth Day's 50th anniversary online event.

Earth Day 2020: message from Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw
Republika Srpska takes steps to protect agriculture during COVID–19 crisis

Banja Luka, Republika Sprska – As a developing country with fragile economy dependent on imported goods and services, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been seriously affected by the COVID–19 crisis. Under the state of emergency declared by the government of the Republika Srpska on March 16, 2020, and due to the limited foreign trade, the agricultural production has become crucial to ensure food security and support local economy during the crisis. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of the Republika Srpska has put in place measures to increase local agriculture production by offering sowing packages for small family farms. In addition, 30 per cent fixed return – with 40 per cent for households over 600 altitude – has been set for investments in agricultural machinery, livestock equipment, plant production and irrigation, and processing of agricultural products for domestic use. Additional funds have been allocated to support planting of industrial crops as well as establishment of organic farms. These measures also address land degradation by encouraging the use of previously abandoned croplands for  agricultural production to meet the increased demand. KM 75 million have been allocated to finance current production and capital investments in the republic. For more info please visit https://agroportal.ba/plan-proljetne-sjetve-za-2020-godinu-u-republici-srpskoj/

 Republika Srpska takes steps to protect agriculture during COVID–19 crisis