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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
Increasing Private Sector Investments in Forest and Landscape Restoration and Land Degradation Neutrality

On the occasion of the Committee on Forestry and the World Forest Week organized at FAO headquarters from 18 to 22 July 2016, FAO and the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD joined forces to organize a side-event: “Sustainable Financing for Forest & Landscape Restoration and Land Degradation Neutrality. What innovations are needed for effective financing mechanisms and increased private sector investments?” The side-event was an opportunity to remind how Forest & Landscape Restoration (FLR) and Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) implementation can deliver significant contributions to climate change adaptation and mitigation and are important milestones on the road towards an inclusive green economy through their potential to create decent jobs and increased incomes for local populations. More importantly the side-event aimed, as a priority, at: Promoting relevant approaches to mobilize private sector finance to implement FLR and LDN; Fostering dialogue between stakeholders involved in FLR & LDN financing in order to share lessons learned and good practices of effective financing mechanisms; Identifying gaps and challenges to be addressed in the future and discussing the relevance of increased collaborative approaches to seize synergies between financing opportunities. The event enabled over 50 participants to learn about some of the ongoing innovations and to discuss gaps and challenges for increased private sector investments. As Mr. Abderrahim Houmy, Secretary General of the High Commission on Water, Forests and Combating Desertification of Morocco explained, “Corporate Social Responsibility has proven to be a significant driver in Morocco where the Partnership for Moroccan Forests operates as a catalytic platform to facilitate partnerships between the forest administration and responsible companies”. Moreover, international cooperation agencies are able to provide significant advisory services to partner countries in building their enabling environment for increased financing, for example through the development of projects eligible for climate finance. Mr. Mark Davis, Deputy-Director for the FAO Climate and Environment Division, indicated the number of opportunities offered by the Green Climate Fund, especially as a way to leverage private sector investments. Participants underscored how other innovative funding mechanisms should be explored: for example crowd funding initiatives which enable a large mobilization of the general public towards FLR and LDN projects. “Crowd funding is a way to bring small amounts of funds to small projects, which most financing partners are not able to provide, while this can achieve a significant development impact on the field”, stressed Ms. Pilar Valbuena, International forestry expert. In order to seize the full potential of forests and mobilize resources at scale, the contributions of forests to biodiversity, combating desertification and climate change mitigation and adaptation must be unleashed. Mr. Ulrich Apel, Senior Environmental Specialist at the Global Environment Facility (GEF) acknowledged that “It is critical to find synergies between Rio conventions when addressing financing mechanisms for FLR and LDN”. Importantly, opportunities emerging from the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund (LDNF) project were discussed as well as partnerships need to address the new LDN market. Indeed the LDNF project offers possibilities of blended finance and a mix of investments and technical assistance which are required when implementing large scale FLR projects.  Ludwig Liagre, Innovative LDN Finance expert, underscored that the LDNF project will apply strict environmental and social safeguards to ensure the sustainability of investments. Mr. Douglas McGuire, Coordinator of the FAO FLR Mechanism and chair of the event, in his concluding statement said, “We are on the way to finding synergies between financing sources and to build relevant financing alliances. Nonetheless more efforts should be developed to design sustainable incentives to private sector investors and project developers to engage in FLR and LDN on the long-term”.

Increasing Private Sector Investments in Forest and Landscape Restoration and Land Degradation Neutrality
Latin America and the Caribbean engages in Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting

Representatives of 15 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and 5 international partner agencies met in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 20-21 July to discuss and jointly launch the land degradation neutrality (LDN) target setting process in LAC. Facilitated by the Global Mechanism and the Secretariat of the UNCCD, co-hosted by the governments of Argentina and of Trinidad and Tobago, and supported by a significant number of bilateral and multilateral partners, the workshop enabled Latin American and Caribbean countries to discuss a practical methodology for defining national voluntary LDN targets and the elements needed to implement this methodology at national level, as part of the process to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular the SDG goal 15. In their opening remarks, both Mr. Moreno,  Secretary of Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Sustainable Development of Argentina, and Mr. Repnik, Managing Director of the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, agreed that “As a new vehicle for UNCCD implementation, the LDN vision provides countries an innovative approach to  address multiple Sustainable Development Goals in an effective manner, bringing together different national development agendas – from agricultural policy to climate action – and offering countries the possibility of tapping into unprecedented climate finance opportunities”. Through engagement in the articulation of LDN targets and associated land restoration measures, and the promotion of operational synergies with the national UNFCCC and CBD processes, as well as with relevant land restoration efforts such as Initiative 20x20, “the LAC region is in a particularly advantageous position to implement bold LDN actions against climate change, considering that the land sector alone is responsible for approximately 58% of the GHGs emissions of the entire LAC region”, Mr. Vergara, Coordinator of the World Research Institute’s Initiative 20x20, declared. Highlighting three key elements on which a successful LDN target setting process should be based , Ms. Polanco, National Focal Point of Dominican Republic, referred to: “(i) a political decision making process that is based on a solid LDN baseline elaborated upon the best available data and a sound methodology;  (ii) a collaborative effort that meaningfully involves a broad range of stakeholder that participate in the stewardship and use of land resources; and (iii) a strong political commitment with clear country leadership in order to effectively streamline the LDN vision into the national SDG agendas.” This regional workshop was followed by the first LDN national stakeholder consultation meeting for Argentina, on 22 July. At the opening, Mr. Ravine Bergman Argentina’s newly appointed Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, highlighted  the importance of the LDN vision, recalling “the ethical obligation that we all have, both individually and as a society, to ensure that our land-based natural capital is well managed for future generations”, and arguing that “nothing is profitable if it is not sustainable”. He also tweeted  his commitment to achieving LDN in Argentina. This is the fourth in a series of regional inception workshops, following those in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe and Asia, under a global initiative led by the Global Mechanism and the Secretariat of the UNCCD to support countries in achieving the LDN vision – as of today 95 countries have committed to this challenge. The next workshop on LDN target setting will take place from 14 to 15 October 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya, for new countries expressing their interest in joining this global effort to achieve  a Land Degradation Neutral word by 2030.   Related links: Download the Workshop Report (1.2 MB

Latin America and the Caribbean engages in Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting