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CSO panel launches new website

The UNCCD CSO panel has strengthen its communication and outreach capacity with the launching of a new website that will be used for sharing information, experiences and knowledge among the nearly 500 civil society organizations accredited to the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD.Visitors can find all the relevant information on the thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties, the latest publications issued by the CSO panel and the links to the work undertaken in the last biennium by the panel members.The website offers a great opportunity to get to know what CSOs are doing in the implementation of the UNCCD not only at the national level but also during the negotiations. To visit the website click https://www.csopanel.com.

CSO panel launches new website
Scientists Consider the Evolution of Land Degradation Neutrality Concept

UNCCD Stakeholders participated at the 6th International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification (DDD) that took place at the Sede Boqer campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel from 6-9 November 2017 that attracted participants from over 60 countries. The focus was the theory and practice of combatting desertification and environmental degradation, and related issues on living sustainably in the drylands, the means to address desertification and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals target of land degradation neutrality. Dr. Barron Joseph Orr, Lead Scientist, UNCCD, and Dr. Pamela Chasek, Professor of International Relations at Manhattan College, convened a panel on “Land Degradation Neutrality: From Concept to Implementation.” The session elicited interest because it links theoretical concepts to practice. The Scientific Conceptual Framework on Land Degradation Neutrality, a showcase of how practitioners have used scientific theories, was particularly well-received. The panel explained the history of the concept of land degradation neutrality (LDN) and the development of an LDN Scientific Conceptual Framework, which was endorsed by the country parties of the UNCCD at COP 13 in September 2017. The panelists also communicated both the scientific basis for LDN and the practical realities encountered as LDN is being implemented. Professor Uriel Safriel, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and former Chair of the UNCCD Committee on Science and Technology and former Chair of the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface (SPI), discussed the emergence of the LDC paradigm. Orr discussed the elaboration of the LDN Scientific Conceptual Framework. Chasek presented on the opportunities for new and innovative funding for LDN implementation. Dr. Mariam Akhtar-Schuster, UNCCD SPI Co-Chair, discussed the challenges and opportunities in creating an enabling policy environment for implementing LDN.  The final two presentations focused on the challenges and opportunities for implementing LDN on the ground. Harifidy Rakoto Ratsimba, Dr Eng., Lecturer, University of Antananarivo, Madagascar and Madagascar Scientific and Technical Correspondent to the UNCCD, demonstrated how the sustainable management of land through the LDN approach in Madagascar will create multiple benefits in a way that the land can meet the clear needs in terms of food security and water management, the mitigation and the adaptation of the effects of climate change and the promotion of responsible consumption of natural resources. Dr. Anna Luise, Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research and Italy Scientific and Technical Correspondent to the UNCCD, described the work of the Italian Ministry of the Environment in order to define and adopt specific LDN targets to be reached by 2030, noting Italy is the only developed country participating in this project. Up to 114 parties to the Convention have – to varying degrees – initiated steps to pursue the preparation and analysis of baseline assessment data necessary for integrated land use planning and LDN target setting and the initial monitoring of LDN indicators. Some countries have begun to implement LDN and donor countries and the private sector are developing innovative blending financing approaches.  The Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification emerged as an important forum for various stakeholders – scientists, practitioners, industry and government representatives and decision-makers, members of civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, international development aid agencies – concerned about land and environmental degradation in drylands and living conditions in and around them, as well as their sustainable use and development.  For more information contact: Barron Orr, BJorr@unccd.int. With thanks to Pamela Chasek and Barron Orr for this report. Above Panelists, from left to right: Barron Orr, Pamela Chasek, Mariam Akhtar-Schuster, Uriel Safriel, Anna Luise, And Harifidy Rakoto Ratsimba  

Scientists Consider the Evolution of Land Degradation Neutrality Concept
UN Heads call for assistance to address linked climate change, biodiversity and desertification threats

Calling for establishment of facility to secure financing for large projects addressing global challenges and achieving Sustainable Development Goals Facility will enhance implementation of all three Rio Conventions. Bonn/Montreal, 14 November 2017 – The Executive Secretaries of the Biological Diversity, Climate Change, and Desertification Conventions have called for the establishment of a Facility to secure finance for large projects that will help to address common issues. “We are calling for the establishment of a new Project Preparation Facility to bridge this gap and promote an integrated, coherent and multi-disciplinary approach to these related issues while supporting the respective mandates of the three Rio Conventions,” they said in a joint statement issued by the Executive Secretaries at the UN Climate Change Conference 2017 taking place in Bonn, Germany. “There is strong demand for a Rio Conventions Project Preparation Facility to help finance large-scale, transformative projects that can deliver multiple benefits in addressing global challenges and in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the Desertification Convention. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, said “the need for supporting improved proposal design and structuring the investment case for multi-dimensional projects is the core mandate of this Facility.” “This Facility will help access project funding for a wide variety of sources, including blended finance and public private partnerships,” said Cristiana Paşca Palmer, Executive Secretary of the Biological Diversity Convention.   Land productivity is declining at an alarming rate. More than a third of land is degraded, with most of it happening just in the last two decades. Current management practices in the land use sector are responsible for approximately 25 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions. Biodiversity is disappearing at alarming rates well above the natural rates. With over 1.3 billion people reliant on degrading land and exposed to an unprecedented level of climate stress, the situation is expected to worsen. The proposed Facility would have two key functions. First, to deliver on existing commitments by promoting large-scale transformative projects to fill existing gaps between projects and funding; second, to act as a catalyst for more coordinated action. The Facility would simultaneously contribute to the implementation of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (CBD), the Land Degradation Neutrality targets (UNCCD), and the Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plans (UNFCCC). The details for the structure and operation for this facility are being explored in close consultation between the secretariats of the Rio Conventions and potential partners. The international community and donors have pledged a number of funding commitments such as the enhanced climate financing to address some of the interconnected issues. The Conferences of the Parties to each of the Rio Conventions – namely the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – have underlined through numerous decisions the need for enhanced collaboration in order to harness synergies, enhance coordination and increase the effectiveness of operations. However, the existing technical assistance facilities are sector-specific and do not leverage the synergies between land, climate and biodiversity. It is against this backdrop, that the Executive Secretaries of the Rio Conventions issued the joint statement to collaborate in the establishment of a Project Preparation Facility. Notes to the Editors For the full statement, please visit: www.cbd.int/cooperation/joint-statement-rio-convention-2017-en.pdf or http://bit.ly/2znaqD1 Example of Activities Supported by the Rio Conventions Project Preparation Facility: For more information, please contact: David Ainsworth, CBDdavid.ainsworth@cbd.int Wagaki Wischnewski, UNCCDwwischnewski@unccd.int Nick Nuttall, UNFCCCnnuttall@unfccc.int About the CBD The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. About the UNCCD The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the only legally binding international agreement on land issues. The Convention promotes good land stewardship. Its 196 Parties aim, through partnerships, to implement the Convention and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The end goal is to protect our land, from over-use and drought, so it can continue to provide us all with food, water, and energy. By sustainably managing land and striving to achieve land degradation neutrality, now and in the future, we will reduce the impact of climate change, avoid conflict over natural resources and help communities to thrive. About the UNFCCC With 197 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.   ------------------

UN Heads call for assistance to address linked climate change, biodiversity and desertification threats
UNCCD at COP23: nature-based solutions and multi-sectoral approaches to address climate hazards

Bonn, Germany – UNCCD has been actively participating in the 2017 UN Climate Change Conference to promote the importance of healthy land and related ecosystems for mitigating climate change and securing sustainable future. 8 November: Addressing uncertainties in estimating GHG emissions to strengthen land management 9 November: Nature-based solutions for water and adaptation to climate change 10 November: Sustainability. Stability. Security Initiative presentation 14 November: Drought adaptation and resilience: connecting the dots 15 November: Impact of degraded land restoration on habitat protection and climate change On 8 November, the representatives of the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface, World Bank, Cornell University, CCAFS and Global Research Alliance, TEMA Foundation and DryNet, the 4x1000 initiative, FAO and GEF gathered for the side event “Addressing uncertainties in estimating GHG emissions and removals in the AFOLU sector to strengthen land management practices.” The participants discussed the role that land restoration measures such as afforestation, reforestation, forest management, restoration of degraded lands and soil carbon enhancement can play in removing carbon from the atmosphere while significantly contributing to the achievement of sustainable development goals. The participants stressed the need for NGOs and scientific organizations to work together and translate science and data into messages for policy-makers, enabling legal frameworks that will stimulate low-carbon resilient agricultural systems. Modeling and measuring best practices in sustainable land management, and getting data from farmers into global databases for knowledge-sharing should become a priority, along with sharing best approaches in communication to effectively educate land users and local communities on the benefits of climate-smart agriculture and soil carbon management. Today, over 500 million families are involved in the agricultural industry, and future policies need to focus on farmers’ livelihoods and rural populations, delivering reliable and stable income to farmers, encouraging them to continue feeding the world and supporting them in doing it in a resilient, low-carbon way. The world’s best policies that lay foundation for better living conditions of land users are recognized by the World Future Policy Vision Award. An award ceremony during recent UNCCD COP13 celebrated this's years winner, “4x1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate.” On 9 November, the representatives of the UNCCD Global Mechanism, the Great Green Wall Initiative, the French Water Partnership, IUCN, the Seine Normandy Water Agency, the RAMSAR Convention, the French Development Agency and the Global Alliances for Water and Climate met to discuss “Nature-based solutions for water and adaptation to climate change.” The participants agreed that there is a pressing need to bring together public and private partners to promote the importance of water for climate change adaptation. The round table discussions centered on the urgency in ensuring better coordination and better support for countries in preparing for water shortages, improving cost-effective management and protection of water resources, and developing multisectoral approaches to overcoming water deficit. The UNCCD is supporting countries in developing integrated land and water resources management solutions through its LDN TSP programme and will also implement a drought initiative to support up to 30 countries in enhancing national drought preparedness and planning. Drought affects all aspects of human life, from food production to public health, and there is a growing need to help country Parties, communities, agricultural sector, businesses and individuals threatened by drought. While most countries already have some instruments in place to respond to drought, approaches are not always comprehensive and coordinated. National drought plans need to identify vulnerabilities and risks related to drought, as well as outline existing instruments and potential gaps along with necessary interventions in case of drought forecast. As illustrated by the successes of the Great Green Wall Initiative, local communities are the most effective entry point for environmental restoration projects. Nature-based solutions use local ancestral approaches to saving water, making best possible use of available resources, allowing water basins to recharge and avoiding land erosion. The participants agreed that the Global Water Summit in France in April and other upcoming events will make 2018 a strategic year to include nature-based solutions into national policies, acknowledge the role of ecosystems in securing water supply and take into consideration all water-related challenges, including floods, droughts and biodiversity conservation.  The goal of the "Sustainability. Stability. Security" (3S) Initiative presentation on 10 November, organized by Burkina Faso and supported by UNCCD, was to inform the African delegates and promote their countries' adhesion. The Initiative works to address the root causes of instability in Africa, particularly migration and conflicts related to natural resource degradation, and to create by 2025 at least two million jobs for vulnerable groups through restoration of degraded land. The meeting brought together representatives of Senegal, Mali, Chad, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Zimbabwe, IOM, UNCCD, Francophonie, IRD and civil society organizations.  During the presentation, speakers illustrated the vision and the next steps to the implementation of the Initiative. The discussion that followed addressed a number of topics, such as the potential challenges in job creation for migrants, the need to promote synergies with other conventions and initiatives that are already being implemented on the continent, as well as the contribution of entrepreneurs from the diaspora. The discussion that followed allowed to explain the origins of the Initiative, clarify some aspects related to the process of adhesion and highlight the need for more countries to join the Initiative to accelerate its implementation and reach its goals.   The “Drought adaptation and resilience: connecting the dots” event co-organized by UNCCD, FAO, UN Climate Resilience Initiative A2R, UN-SPIDER and the German Development Institute (DIE) took place on 14 November to provide a better understanding of preparedness to drought – the world’s costliest climate hazard.  The presenters and panelists discussed perspectives and challenges of integrated drought management, agreeing that reacting after disaster strikes is the most expensive and often ineffectual way to help, and that in the future, drought should become a risk to be prevented, not an emergency to be faced. Countries need to develop and implement national drought policies that are proactive, multi-sectoral, flexible and fit into long-term development planning. The future-facing disaster risk management also needs to address drought from a broader perspective that includes market mechanisms, social protection, sustainable soil and land management, gender dimensions and local indigenous knowledge.  It is expected that in the coming years, droughts will become more frequent, intense and prolonged, in part due to climate change. To help countries build drought resilience, the UNCCD COP 13 gave the secretariat an explicit mandate to work on drought preparedness. A new initiative has been launched by UNCCD to engage with up to 30 countries and facilitate the process of enhancing national drought preparedness and planning. While most countries already have some drought response mechanisms in place, these approaches are not always pro-active, comprehensive or coherent. National drought plans should clearly outline risk mitigation and response measures that are launched as soon as the possibility of drought is signaled by meteorological services.  On 15 November the representatives of UNCCD, WWF, ICRAF and TMG ThinkTank gathered to discuss the “Impact of degraded land restoration on habitat protection, food systems and climate change.” The panelists highlighted the potential of agricultural land for carbon storage, noting that taking carbon from the atmosphere in a natural way needs to become as prominent on the global agenda as reducing emissions and promoting alternative energy.  The presenters drew attention to the historic decision made at COP23 that invites countries to submit data on soil health, incorporating land into the framework of the Climate Change Convention and confirming the soil’s potential for climate change mitigation and adaptation. To realize this potential, the restoration of degraded lands needs to take a holistic and inclusive approach, taking into consideration the entire ecosystem as well as the local context. Discussing future priorities, the panelists agreed that the main effort should be invested into the decision-making process, to ensure that all aspects of soil health are considered before any land decisions are made. Another priority is to create concerted and collaborative financial mechanisms such as the LDN Fund to support land rehabilitation, protect ecosystems and empower sustainable business. Just this week, the three Rio conventions (UNCCD, UNFCCC and CBD) have called for the establishment of a new Facility to help finance large-scale, transformative projects and promote an integrated approach to the interlinked challenges of climate change, biodiversity and desertification.

UNCCD at COP23: nature-based solutions and multi-sectoral approaches to address climate hazards
GLO survey – your help is needed!

The first edition of the Global Land Outlook (GLO) was published in September 2017, receiving warm welcome from focal points and plenty of attention in global media channels. To guide the next steps, UNCCD secretariat has launched an independent external evaluation focusing on the relevance and effectiveness of the GLO and the efficiency of the preparatory process. An online survey targeting all UNCCD stakeholders has been prepared as part of the evaluation, in order to get direct feedback from the GLO users.  We ask you to respond to the survey questions, which are accessible through the links below. The survey should take 5 to 10 minutes to complete, the information will be confidential, and your feedback is very much appreciated.  English French Spanish

GLO survey – your help is needed!