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A decade ago at the UNCCD COP10 in Changwon, two key ideas in the UNCCD process were rolled out: the “Changwon Initiative” and the global target of “zero net land degradation.” The initiative has been instrumental in materializing this new vision of a land-degradation neutral world and played a pivotal role in developing the Land Degradation Neutrality concept, supporting advocacy within the international community and ensuring its reflection in Sustainable Development Goals through SDG 15.3. The Changwon Initiative also supported national voluntary target setting processes to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN), leading to more than 100 countries’ participation. It has also contributed to the preparation of action-oriented projects and programmes to facilitate the implementation of LDN on the ground. Land-based solutions are among the most efficient and effective ways to safeguard nature and human beings: land restoration can be an important solution for mitigation and adaptation to climate change and biodiversity loss. Furthermore, it can contribute to job creation and food security. A land degradation-neutral world by 2030, which is the vision of the Changwon Initiative, can be an important stepping stone toward restoring balance with nature and realize the Sustainable Development Goals. As we celebrate the achievements of the Changwon Initiative over the past 10 years, there is a great expectation that the Initiative will continue to act as an accelerator in addressing land degradation neutrality and making a positive impact for a better future for people and the planet. Read more: The Changwon Initiative LDN target-setting programme Land and the SDGs
The final conference on the results of a Joint initiative to develop regional strategies to combat drought, sand and dust storms (SDS) in Central Asia took place on 21 October. Representatives of the UNCCD Secretariat, national institutions and CAREC, government representatives, experts, as well as regional and international partners gathered to discuss joint strategies for drought and SDS management. The drought that gripped the Central Asian countries last summer resulted in massive losses of livestock and crops, affecting local communities and economies. The risk of drought in the region is of particular concern because of its dependence on agriculture and shared water resources. Studies also show that global dust emissions have increased by 25-50 per cent since 1900 as a result of land use and climate change. "The strategies presented today advance the agenda on drought and SDS, consolidating common concerns and priorities. Since prolonged drought often triggers sand and dust storms, the SDS mitigation requires drought-smart solutions," said UNCCD Deputy Executive Secretary Tina Birmpili. The conference participants emphasized that achieving a neutral balance of land degradation to slow down desertification, land degradation and drought is an integral part of the initiative. To date, five Central Asian countries have joined the UNCCD Land Degradation Neutrality programme, striving to reach no net loss of healthy and productive land. At the end of the conference, the Central Asian countries reaffirmed their commitment to address drought and SDS and called on the international community to support the implementation of the proposed strategies. The outcomes of the initiative will be presented at the upcoming UNCCD COP 15 in May 2022. Read more: Regional approaches to combat drought, sand and dust storms in Central Asia About sand and dust storms
Statement by UNCCD Executive Secretary Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw: Madame Chairperson, Bureau members, distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, Let me first offer my warmest congratulations to you Madam Chair and Bureau members on your election at the helm of this Committee. You are carrying out your duties in difficult times. Permit me at the outset, to formally introduce the report of the Secretary General contained in document A/76/225. Allow me to highlight four elements. First: This planet is the only home there is for the 7.9 B people that we are. Building back better (or, even best, building forward better) from the pandemic will only succeed if we reset our relationships with nature. We live on land. Land provides us with the food we eat, the clothes that protect us, the feed needed for our animals, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. Yet, we have already altered three-quarters of the ice-free land. Science warns us that unless we change gears, by 2050, only 10% of the land will be immune of scars caused by one species: Homo sapiens. Desertification, land degradation are amongst the most serious wounds we are inflicting on ourselves. Droughts remain a major threat to the world economy and stability. There is however a silver lining. Avoiding, reducing and restoring degraded land appears to be amongst the most pragmatic, economically affordable and socially acceptable nature-based solutions to the multiple challenges we face: combatting land degradation and climate change and reducing biodiversity loss. Land restoration also increases food production. Improves water availability and water quality. Creates green jobs and increases social stability. Restoring the ecosystems, we have degraded, the forests we have chopped, connecting land to the people, rich or poor, who live off land. Re-connecting land to our economies. Our current production and consumption patterns require 1,7 planets. Our greed for natural resources, combined with our lifestyle, are affecting our health and wellbeing. Second: Placed at the center of our sustainable development efforts, land offers, as I said before, an avenue for addressing multiple challenges. In this respect, achieving land degradation neutrality as envisaged in SDG.15, is key to achieving other SDGs. Land restoration offers a reliable platform to achieve multiple goals. And here we speak of grasslands, drylands or rangelands which are ecosystems overlooked at a global level. Their sustainable management is the most concrete action that the international community can support and witness a quick impact on economies, and on livelihoods. Third: Building back better in the aftermath of the pandemic will be very costly and the trajectory to achieve SDGs seriously disturbed. As greening the economies has been seen as a pathway to sustainability, land-based jobs can be a game-changer. Land restoration can underpin the future economy. It can be a formidable machine to create millions of decent green jobs, particularly for women and youth. It can lower the vulnerability index, particularlyin countries which are in special categories, especially the LDCs, SIDs and LLDCs. Lastly, on droughts. Though droughts are not new phenomenon, their frequency and intensity have been amplified by the changing climate. With droughts, most economies are in yoyo. They take a heavy toll on GDPs, destabilize social fabrics. Droughts accelerate forced migrations, both within national boundaries and across borders. Droughts are associated with wildfires, food insecurity and human tragedies. It is time for the international community to take droughts for what they are: a global emergency. Global emergencies know no borders and are indifferent to political ideologies. Only international cooperation can address them in a meaningful way, as reflected in the report before you. Madam Chair, Permit me to say a few words on the High-level dialogue on desertification, land degradation and drought hosted by the President of the 75th session of the General Assembly. Which indeed was a resounding success. It contributed to raising the profile and the ambitions the global leadership is paying to restoring degraded lands. I take this opportunity to express the gratitude of the UNCCD to the General Assembly for this opportunity. I also want to thank H.E. Volkan BOZKIR, President of the 75th session of the General Assembly for his steadfast support. Finally, let me take this opportunity to inform the Committee that the next Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD (COP 15) will be held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Please note the dates: second and third weeks of May 2022. I wish to request to the delegation of Cote d’Ivoire to convey to the country’s leadership our vote of gratitude as the world prepares to travel to that beautiful country. Thank you very much.
For centuries, we have used nature to live. As a result: Nearly one million species are at risk of extinction. Nearly three quarters of the Earth's ice-free land has been transformed to meet human demands for food, raw materials, and homes. If humans continue to emit greenhouse gases at current rates, global temperature will rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius target within decades. Today, we need nature to survive. Protecting and restoring nature can help drive a green recovery and prevent future pandemics. Investing in nature-based solutions will allow us to build forward better, greener, healthier, stronger, and more sustainably. The three Rio Conventions on biodiversity, land and climate are joining forces to ensure that each and every one of us takes action in their own environment in order to change the course of the world to restore balance with nature. Learn more about the campaign at the Rio Conventions Pavillion website and follow it on social media: @UNCCD @UNBiodiversity @UNFCCC. Read more: Rio conventions Land and climate Land and biodiversity Solution brief: Restored Land, healthy people, green recovery