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Research meets Development: Early Warning Systems

As the second of the seven lecture series, “Research meets Development: Drought resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa,” the panel discussion focused on Early Warning systems to enhance drought resilience was held on 24 April at Geographisches Institut in Bonn, Germany. The panelists were Joanna Post (UNFCCC), Daniel Tsegai (UNCCD), Joachim Post (UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER), Olena Dubovyk (University of Bonn/ZFL), Yvonne Walz (UNU-EHS) and Lars Wirkus (BICC). The panel was moderated by Joerg Szarzynski from the United Nations University. After the moderator’s brief introduction followed by a short video on the drought episode and its severe impacts in South Africa, the panel discussion kicked off with Joanna Post who spoke about the science of climate change and drought trends, projections, temperature rise and the UNFCCC parties’ commitment to the Paris Agreement to reduce CO2 emissions. Daniel Tsegai addressed the UNCCD’s support to countries to develop and implement national drought policy plans and the efforts to support countries to strengthen their drought early warning systems. He elaborated on the key global milestones on the path of drought resilience including the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005-2015), the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030), the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy in 2013 and the African drought Conference in August 2016. Leveraging drought as a connector of sectors and relevant actors was emphasized. Joachim Post explained the importance of space infrastructure to monitor hazards including droughts and how satellite data can be used in planning actions. He highlighted the global divide in space infrastructure and the use of earth observation data (EO) for resilience and early warning applications in Africa. Referring to the existing data gaps among African countries, Olena Dubovyk stressed that remote sensing data and indices (e.g., VCI) could be a viable option to characterize and predict drought. In developing countries, there is a lack of qualified experts to integrate drought indicators within such system. The lack of universal definition of drought is hampering the development of methods for drought assessments. Yvonne Walz stressed the importance of vulnerability and drought risk assessment (ecology, social, economic and political). Lars Wirkus spoke about drought as a migration and threat multiplier. Drought enhances migration which displaces millions of people. He showed relevant maps pointing out water resources-related conflicts. Drought areas are in many cases overlapping with conflict areas. Water scarcity could exacerbate the conflicts. The other issues raised during the panel discussion were: challenges on drought preparedness; creation of comprehensive drought early warning systems to enhance communication and dissemination channels; strengthening the responding capacity of farmers to warnings; and the need for national drought policy to reduce risks of drought. For more information about the lecture series, visit: https://www.die-gdi.de/veranstaltungen/details/drought-resilience-in-sub-saharan-africa/

Research meets Development: Early Warning Systems
How Canada Is Taking Action To Combat Desertification (Monique Barbut, Huffington Post, 22 April 2017)

This Earth Day, we invite you to take your children outside, into nature, to strengthen their connection with the environment. It is the best way to motivate them to protect it. The effects of climate change are not always obvious to us. Yet, they are undeniable. It is easier to see the harmful effects in parts of the world with very different geography from Canada: the arid lands, where three billion people live. En Français: En ce Jour de la Terre, nous vous invitons à profiter de la nature avec vos enfants pour qu'ils bâtissent un lien avec leur environnement. C'est la meilleure façon de les motiver à le protéger. Même si les effets des changements climatiques ne nous sautent pas toujours aux yeux, ils sont indéniables. Les dommages se voient davantage dans un environnement loin des réalités du Canada: les terres arides, où vivent trois milliards de personnes.

How Canada Is Taking Action To Combat Desertification (Monique Barbut, Huffington Post, 22 April 2017)
Désertif’actions 2017 (D’a17): Registration now open

Desertif’actions is a non-State actors’ international summit dedicated to land degradation and climate change. The event will take place on 27 and 28 June 2017 in Strasbourg (France). Over 300 stakeholders from more than 50 countries are expected to participate. The two-day event shares concerns about land degradation under a changing climate and its consequences in northern and southern countries. It aims to build common positions on the issue, which will be consolidated in a Declaration at the end of the event. UNCCD is one of the supporters of the D’a17. For more information and registration to the event, visit (external site): https://www.desertif-actions.fr/en/

Désertif’actions 2017 (D’a17): Registration now open
Research meets Development: Drought resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa

As the first of the six lecture series, “Research meets Development: Drought resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa”, a kick-off event was held at Deutsche Welle in Bonn, Germany, on 6 April. The event started with an introductory statement by MinR. Stefan Schmitz, Commissioner at the German Federal Ministry of Cooperation and Development (BMZ), followed by a keynote address by Professor Robert McLeman from the University of Wilfrid Laurier and a panel discussion. The panelists were Mr. Schmitz, Professor McLeman, Mr. Pradeep Monga, Deputy Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, and Mr. Matthias Mogge from the Welthungerhilfe. The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Micheal Bruentrup from the German Development Institute (DIE). The transdisciplinary panel discussed the current critical drought situation in the Horn of Africa, in particular in Somalia where many people are risking their lives due to drought. It addressed the threats of drought from various angles, the challenges and the remedial measures in a wide spectrum of policy options. G20 Agenda, the Marshal plan for Africa under the German G20 Presidency, the role of job creation for young people were also discussed, as well as the linkage between drought, human migration, rural adaptation and conflict. The panel discussion revealed drought as a threat multiplier for human security. Food and water shortage is one of the serious consequences. Mr. Mogge reflected his recent visit to Somalia and Ethiopia, quoting the new Somalia president listing the country’s three major priorities as “water, water and water”. UNCCD’s key action-oriented policy aspects of drought resilience were highlighted by Mr. Monga as (i) monitoring and early warning systems; (ii) vulnerability assessment; and (iii) risk mitigation measures. A national drought policy needs to be developed based on the principles of risk reduction and the paradigm shift from reactive to proactive approaches with engagements of the private sector and other stakeholders. Mr. Monga also introduced related initiatives by the UNCCD including the support to countries for achieving Land Degradation Neutrality. The panel discussion was followed by an interactive dialogue with the event participants. Questions were raised about a changing relationship between rural and urban interaction, better resource management and challenges of bottom-up/top-down approaches. As a response to a question, Prof. McLeman listed water security, inter-regional migration and reliable local governance as keys to future sustainable development consideration for Africa. The lecture series continues until 13 July. It is co-organized by DIE, UNCCD, BMZ, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), KFW and University of Bonn. For more information about the lecture series, visit (external link): https://www.die-gdi.de/veranstaltungen/details/drought-resilience-in-sub-saharan-africa/

Research meets Development: Drought resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa