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On 14-15 May 2018, the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) convened an Expert Group Meeting on the Sustainable Development Goal 15 (SDG15) titled Life on Land. The Expert Group Meetings highlighted the key messages below, which together with their deliberations, are part of the input to be shared at the High Level Political Forum to be held in July 2018, where progress in the implementation of SDG 15 will be reviewed. The Expert Group Meeting took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States. The land degradation neutrality target was take up during the session on Land and Soils that also dealt with issues of forests and biological diversity. The session focused on the direct links between the Goal and poverty, jobs, migration, carbon, water and food security. The Expert Group Meeting, inter alia, acknowledged that land degradation should be given global priority particularly since global assessments of land degradation show that degradation is getting worse in some regions and is increasingly linked to food insecurity, vulnerability to climate change, poverty, conflicts and forced migrations. The Experts also agreed that impacts of land degradation on food security would affect mainly the poor, children and women. The impacts would also leave them more vulnerable to climate change. The impacts are likely to persist over several generations considering that the world’s poor are primarily young and rural. Further, the Experts agreed that by pursuing land degradation neutrality, the actors will accelerate the attainment of the other SDGs. They concurred that achieving land degradation neutrality is a response to the overall vision of leaving no-one behind, under the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. Furthermore, they argued that the land degradation neutrality target could also serve as an integrator of many of the Goals because it is directly linked to them. The meeting observed that the LDN Fund was the first finance mechanism of its kind. The Fund has attracted the private sector, which shows that sustainable land management is profitable and can deliver on multiple fronts. The meeting also highlighted that up to 120 countries are committed to the LDN Target setting programme, which is an indicator of substantial progress. The programme is being carried out through transformative and large-scale projects that can enable member states to achieve land degradation neutrality. The Expert Group Meeting also underlined that climate change is increasing the scope and duration of droughts. Therefore, to achieve SDG15, drought must be tackled to ensure countries are prepared and the ecosystems and communities affected by it are resilient. The session on Land and Soils brought together a wide range of experts; from civil society and UN entities, to academia, among them, Professor Edward Barbier (Department of Economics at Colorado State University, and Senior Scholar at the School of Global Environmental Sustainability), Dr. Deborah Bossio (Lead Soil Scientist at The Nature Conservancy) and Professor Dan Pennock (Professor Emeritus at the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, Department of Soil Science at the University of Saskatchewan). Mr. Melchiade Bukuru, Chief of the UNCCD liaison office to the United Nations, moderated the panel. In his opening remarks, Bukuru said in 2030 the international community will take account of the achievement of all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. But for this to be accomplished in just 12 years, he emphasized that there is an urgent need to identify the targets that can accelerate progress and integrate the achievement of the SDGs. He recalled that the General Assembly has acknowledged land degradation neutrality (SDG target 15.3) as an accelerator for the achievement of multiple SDGs, particularly ending poverty and hunger, tackling inequality, empowering women and stimulating economic growth. Bukuru also emphasised that degraded land, if recovered, would contribute to restoring natural resources. This has the potential to improve food security and nutrition in the affected countries, and in the process, also absorb some of the of carbon emissions responsible for climate change. On the first day, the Expert Group focused on the (slow) progress made towards achieving SDG 15 and its low profile relative to other SDGs. The discussion then turned quickly to the actions needed: integrated landscape approach, working across sectors, stakeholder involvement, progress on tenure/gender, spatial planning, targeted investments, the need for good indicators, etc. Bukuru intervened regularly to highlight the multiple benefits of the LDN approach, interlinkages with other SDGs, and the unique role of the UNCCD in building capacities at the national level (TSP). There was particular interest in the LDN fund and when the Convention will demonstrate the success of the LDN approach as an SDG accelerator and integrator. During the closing session, DESA advised participants to prepare key messages to the HLPF, which relate to the concrete actions that can be taken at Forum’s level. An issues document based on the notes of the meeting will now be drafted by DESA and circulated to the participants. The document will provide the background for a 3-hour session on SDG 15 that will take place on 13 July at the senior adviser level before consideration by the high level segment. The HLPF Ministerial outcome document will largely be negotiated before the HLPF convenes. Negotiations will be led by two co-chairs (ambassador-level), one each from the North and South. The messages in the HLPF outcome document will be driven by Member States. For more information, contact: Bukuru@un.org Click here to download the background note for discussion at the session. Read UNCCD inputs to HLPF here: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?page=view&type=30022&nr=1237&menu=3170
Tuesday, 22 May, is the International Day for Biological Diversity. This year’s theme is "Celebrating 25 Years of Action for Biodiversity." The theme was chosen to mark the 25th anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and to highlight progress made in the achievement of its objectives. UNCCD congratulates its sister convention on the 25 years of actions to safeguard biodiversity. Climate change, biological diversity, desertification, land degradation and drought are intricately related on the social, economic and environmental fronts. Because these issues are closely linked, the secretariats of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the CBD and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) are engaged in collaborative actions to solve these challenges at all levels. Together we can create a better future! Read more: Celebrations around the world Synergies among Rio conventions
Cairo, Egypt – A regional workshop on the reporting requirements under the new UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework took place on 6–9 May, 2018, bringing together delegates from sixteen Arab States and representatives of international organizations to discuss the technical aspects of reporting. The workshop also provided a platform to address regional issues, defining a way forward on topics of drought, sand and dust storms, as well as the capacity-building needs of the region. The outcomes of the workshop received a positive feedback from participants, who encouraged similar initiatives in the future for better implementation of the Convention. The training concludes the series of regional events organized by the UNCCD to ensure a successful national reporting process. The workshop in Cairo was organized by the UNCCD secretariat, the League of Arab States, the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development and the Global Mechanism of UNCCD in collaboration with the Un Environment and the Global Environment Facility. The representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the United Nations Development Programme also attended. Learn more: 2017-2018 reporting process Online reporting tutorials Sand and dust storms Achieving land degradation neutrality
Konya/Mesin, Turkey – The 14th International training on combating desertification took place between 9-14 May, 2018, bringing together 26 experts from 15 African countries. The course is organized by Turkey’s General Directorate of Combating Desertification and covers technical issues, such as causes of desertification and land degradation, production of seed and seedlings, forestation, erosion control and participatory approach to increase the level of regional collaboration in sharing technical experience among the countries. The training is one of the actions under the Ankara Initiative, launched at the UNCCD COP12 to strengthen the implementations of UNCCD between 2016 and 2019. The Initiative supports the global sustainable development agenda and leverages lessons learned from Turkey’s experience in sustainable land management (SLM). As a predominantly arid and semi-arid country, Turkey has a wealth of experience in land management in areas vulnerable to drought. The country has made substantial investments in rehabilitating a wide variety of terrestrial ecosystems, with national activities often planned at the watershed scale. The success of these efforts can be attributed to an integrated, participatory approach that strengthens the engagement and build the capacity of local people. Land governance has evolved to create the necessary conditions and legal environment for the widespread implementation of SLM practices. Turkey has also established itself as a leader in capacity building by investing in training and skill development of civil society and local authorities, sharing its expertise with land specialists from Africa, Central Asia and the Eastern Europe. Read more: Land and drought Sustainable land management
The global economy will lose a whopping USD23 trillion by 2050 through land degradation, a review by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) warns. To take urgent action now and halt these alarming trends would cost USD4.6 trillion – only a fraction of the predicted losses. The outcomes of the review have been assembled into comprehensive and easy-to-use Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Country Profiles, of which 21 are already available online. The LDN Country Profiles reveal that average losses for these 21 countries are equivalent to 9 percent of GDP. This figure is even higher for some of the planet’s worst affected countries, such as the Central African Republic, where the total losses are estimated at a staggering 40 percent. Asia and Africa bear the highest costs, estimated at USD84 billion and 65 billion per year respectively. “Healthy land is the primary asset that supports livelihoods around the globe – from food to jobs and decent incomes. Today, we face a crisis of unseen proportions: 1.5 billion people – mainly in the world’s most impoverished countries – are trapped on degrading agricultural land. This reality is fuelling extreme poverty, particularly in areas such as the Sahel and South Asia, where extreme and erratic weather events are on the rise due to the impacts of climate change,” says Juan Carlos Mendoza, Managing Director of the UNCCD Global Mechanism. The LDN Country Profiles aim to help guide policy decisions on land use management. The profiles are based largely on the analytical work undertaken by the Center for Development Research of the University of Bonn, the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative and the International Food Policy Research Institute. Globally, 169 countries are affected by land degradation and/or drought. Of these, 116 countries are committed to achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) under the UNCCD LDN Target-Setting Programme that supports countries in reaching target 15.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Target 15.3, on Land Degradation Neutrality, encourages countries to halt land degradation in order to ensure the quantity of productive land remains stable. The target is now also recognized as vital for accelerating other SDGs, such as: Goal 1 (No poverty), Goal 2 (Zero hunger), Goal 5 (Promote gender equality), Goal 6 (Clean water and sanitation), Goal 8 (Decent work and economic growth), and Goal 13 (Climate action). The 21 countries whose profiles have been released today are also engaged in the LDN target setting process, formulating targets and associated measures to avoid, reduce and reverse land degradation. For example, the Central African Republic, has committed to restore more than 1 million hectares of degraded land – equal to 15 percent of its territory – which will limit its potential losses and economic burden nationwide. “The LDN Country Profiles provide policy-makers with easily accessible and scientifically sound information that can help estimate the value of their investments in land restoration and make informed choices on the economic returns they can expect from taking assertive action now. Moreover, the profiles illustrate the equivalent monetary value of land degradation and its impact on the international community, while providing strong incentives for cooperation among countries,” Mendoza adds. A broader picture of the economic costs of failing to act decisively and restore available land resources will emerge as additional country profiles are released. Read more: Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Country Profiles Achieving Land Degradation Neutrality Press release: Poor land use costs countries 9 percent equivalent of their GDP
Generally, the #gender equation is still largely viewed as, gender equals #women (Gender = Women). Often, the equation is more precisely defined as “Gender = Women’s Vulnerabilities.” But this is only a small part of the equation. As I demonstrate below through recent field work in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nepal, South Sudan and Uganda over the last six months, we have to address a missing parts of this equation to get to the bottom of #genderequality.