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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
Land degradation Is a Growing Threat to Global Security

Milan, Italy, 17 June 2015 – Land degradation is a growing threat to global security, according to Ms. Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, who spoke today at the global observance of the World Day to Combat Desertification at the EXPO Milano, in Italy.  Noting that land degradation is a driver of migration in the Sahel and that the radicalization of youth in areas with severely degraded land is not a coincidence, she called for concerted international action to strengthen food security and create youth employment.  “When land degradation reaches a level where it seriously threatens people’s livelihoods, it can turn into a security issue. Data from 2007 shows that 80% of major armed conflicts affecting society occurred in vulnerable dry ecosystems,” said Ms. Barbut.  But it is not a fate.   “Sustainable land management practices used in parts of Burkina Faso increased harvests by four times. The water table rose by nearly 10 meters in the Maradi Region of Niger, and in China’s Loess Plateau it resulted in nearly double the grain production,” Ms. Barbut stressed. Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General, also stressed the link between land degradation and insecurity, noting that it undercuts human rights, including the rights to food and water.  “A world where all rights to food, water and human security are guaranteed is possible.  But we need to change course and start securing every hectare of land that can provide food or freshwater.  Land is a renewable resource, but only if we invest in land degradation neutrality, which has been proposed by United Nations Member States for the post-2015 development agenda. We must avoid degrading more land and, at the same time, rehabilitate all the degraded land that we can. Then, we will also be able to make rapid steps towards controlling climate change,” Secretary-General Ban stressed. Globally, only 7.8 billion hectares of land are suitable for food production. About 2 billion hectares are already degraded, and of these 500 million hectares have been totally abandoned. These lands could be restored to fertility for future use. Between 1983 and 2005, for instance, only 16% of the degrading land was being rehabilitated, mostly in the Sahel region. With 99.7% of our food calories coming from the land, land degradation is a threat to our food security. But its effects are especially harsh for the poorest people who rely directly on the land for survival – food, employment and water. When their lands cannot produce any more, they have little choice but to migrate or fight over what little is left. Mr Giampaolo Cantini, Director-General for Development Cooperation of Italy, said the country, “as both a donor and an affected country within the UNCCD, and as a country bridging the Northern and Southern shores of the Mediterranean, is directly experiencing all the implications of unhealthy soils – productivity, stability and population movements. But Italy is also focusing on the value of soil protection and recovery as an instrument of empowerment, peace and stability for so many, and as a path to general environmental recovery." “Environmental modifications affect our chances of fair and orderly development – basic conditions of peace and stability – when they shrink or shift the location of ecosystem services essential to extract a livelihood of lands,” Mr Cantini said. The effects of land degradation are not unique to Africa. In Mexico, for instance, more than 700,000 people migrate every year from the drylands. Land degradation may lead to the migration of 135 million people by 2045, according to a recent study by the UK’s Ministry of Defence. Yet migrants can be part of the solution, especially when their efforts are invested in improving the lands a majority of their families rely on for food, water and jobs. Migrants in France who left the drought-struck Senegal River valley in the 1970s have invested their remittances in more than 200 development projects in their communities – schools, health care centers, water and even roads. In fact, all the water projects in the Valley have benefitted from migrant remittances.  The health and social benefits of these investments have been significant. What’s more, the cost of rehabilitating degrading land is much lower than the cost we are currently paying to police migrants fleeing resource-driven conflicts. For example, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a mechanized technology inspired from traditional practices, known as the Vallerani system, has helped to restore more than 50 000 hectares of Acacia-based agro-sylvopastoral systems in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Niger. Crop, gum, resin and fodder produce have increased.  The government of Niger has also developed Pastoral Modernization Zones that build on the idea of semi- pastoralism. As a result, pastoral areas have been utilized in a more balanced manner and overgrazing has fallen by 30-45 per cent since 1990. Neither of these high-impact land projects came at a high cost. "Such successes show that the challenges related to land degradation and desertification are not insurmountable,” said FAO's Deputy Director General Maria Helena Semedo, adding that FAO had recently stepped up action against desertification with partners like the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.  “Bold action and investment in sustainable land management can boost food security, improve livelihoods and help people adapt to climate change," she stressed. The rehabilitation of China’s Loess Plateau is one of the World Bank’s most celebrated projects. It lifted 2.5 million people out of poverty and restored over 50,000 hectares of degraded land. “The World Bank is engaged in concerted efforts around the world to prevent further loss and protect the livelihoods of those most dependent on natural resources for jobs and sustenance,” said Ms. Paola Agostini, Global Lead for Landscapes and TerrAfrica Coordinator at the World Bank. Ms. Agostini drew attention to the New Climate Economy Report, which estimates that restoring just 350 million hectares of degraded lands could provide agricultural produce and land resources worth $170 billion every year, while helping to mitigate climate change. To celebrate the World Day, Ms Barbut called on countries to put land and its sustainable management at the forefront of their national priorities. She said the Convention is “developing the goal of Land Degradation Neutrality to promote actions that will enable us all, as a global community, to get to the point where we are not losing more fertile land than we are reclaiming.” World Day to Combat Desertification is a UN day observed in all countries of the world to raise awareness about the problems and solutions to land degradation - termed ‘desertification’ when it occurs in the world’s vulnerable dry areas. The observance event at EXPO Milan was attended by high ranking government officials, heads of International organizations and the public. It was jointly organized by the Government of Italy, the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, the UNCCD Secretariat and World Bank/TerrAfrica, with the support of the UN EXPO team. For more information contact: wwischnewski@unccd.int

Land degradation Is a Growing Threat to Global Security