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2017: a year in review

This year, UNCCD and its partners have a lot to celebrate: The thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD (COP13) held in Ordos, China, from 6 to 16 September 2017adopted 36 decisions and one resolution, including the new UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework. The Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Fund was officially launched during COP13 with an initial target size of USD 100 million (first close). The LDN Fund is a first-of-its-kind investment vehicle leveraging public sector funds to raise private sector capital for sustainable land management and landscape restoration activities worldwide. 120 heads of state and government attended the presentation of the LDN Fund at One Planet Summit. The Fund became one of the initiatives supported by the Summit, with the protection of land and water resources from the effects of climate change being the second of the Summit’s twelve engagements. 114 countries committed to set the voluntary Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets. Among them, more than 50 countries already set these targets and are advancing towards the development of LDN transformative projects and programmes tapping innovative finance. 17 international partners are supporting countries in this journey.   UNCCD first-ever COP Youth Forum attracted more than 200 participants from 25 countries around the world. On 17 June, the World Day to Combat Desertification, three Presidents in West Africa – Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – urged solidarity and responsibility of international community in land rehabilitation and sustainable land management, and endorsed a Call for Action on land-based jobs to tackle Africa’s challenges. The Science-Policy Interface (SPI) produced two technical reports and two science-policy briefs on the topics of LDN, Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change. This work led to the publication of a scientific journal article and to the endorsement by COP13 of the Scientific Conceptual Framework for LDN. UNCCD library has reached close to 15 000 knowledge product subscribers with 11 publications, 20 news alerts and ten press releases. Three winners of the Land for Life Award from India, Sudan and China were honored at a special ceremony in Ordos, China, attended by more than 300 people. The UNCCD Capacity Building Marketplace held two major exhibitions, offered four e-learning training courses for national focal points (NFPs) and other stakeholders, delivered 10 lectures, held a global video competition , conducted a panel discussion on LDN and SLM that brought together over 60 participants from 10 universities, established formal working partnerships with 15 civil society organizations (CSOs) and in the second half of the year registered a 400 per cent increase in CBM offers in Spanish and French. The number of UNCCD Facebook followers reached 20 079, Twitter followers: 14 858, YouTube followers: 433, instagram followers: 682, and 36 507 people follow UNCCD on Weibo. 874 people signed the #LoveLand4 Climate i-petition, a part of the campaign that used the momentum around the Climate Change Conference 2017 to showcase the importance of sustainable land management (SLM) for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The campaign social media outreach was 71 007, earning 375 288 impressions. The number of visitors to the UNCCD online platforms has increased 43 percent, while the number of pages accessed increased 33 percent – a reflection on the major overhaul of the UNCCD website and knowledge platforms the previous year. The UNCCD website offers a modern design and improved ease of use, while the Knowledge Hub combines multiple knowledge platforms in one place, offering new publications and information on a daily basis and in a dynamic presentation.    

2017: a year in review
Commitments made at One Planet Summit to LDN Fund start pouring in

Bonn, 14 December 2017 – French President Emmanuel Macron announced in his closing statement Tuesday that the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund is one of the 12 global initiatives that will be supported under the One Planet Summit, stating that protecting land and water resources from the effects of climate change would the second of the Summit’s 12 engagements. “Here, several concrete measures have been taken to mobilize the 300 million United States dollars needed to activate the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund, that is, the Fund to combat land degradation and desertification. France, Canada and other partners announced funds to realize actions aiming to reading land degradation neutrality by 2030, an attainable objective if in the next few weeks we can raise the USD300 million needed to realize the fund.” The LDN Fund was one of 10 Projects the One Planet Summit had identified as "Projects for our planet." Canada’s Fondaction, a retirement savings plan by workers in Quebec, followed swiftly with an announcement yesterday that it will contribute USD10 million to the Fund, making it the first private sector investor to join the Fund. “Fondaction is joining the European Investment Bank, French Agency for Development, the Government of Luxembourg, Global Environment Facility, WWF Global Fund and French Foundation which have so far contributed a total of USD100 million,” said Leopold Beaulieu, President and Director-General of Fondaction. “Combatting land degradation is one of the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Fondaction is a Fund for workers, whose since inception in 1996, is to encourage the creation and maintenance of jobs with a perspective of sustainable development. Today, all of our investments aim to encourage, promote and support sustainable development. The knowledge and expertise we have gained over more than 20 years explains why we are the first private investor to respond favorably to the LDN Fund initiative,” he added. President Macron also announced actions in agricultural and solar technologies that would enhance the UNCCD’s global efforts to ensure that by 2030 and going forward, the amount of degraded land is equivalent to or less that the land we had degraded by 2015 when the Sustainable Development Goals were adopted. Macron's full closing statement and the announcement by Fondaction are accessible via the links below. Statement by President Macron Press Release by Fondaction For more information contact: squatrini@unccd.int  

Commitments made at One Planet Summit to LDN Fund start pouring in
The LDN Fund presented at One Planet Summit as a new investment model for the planet

Boulogne-Billancourt, France – 12 December 2017 – The LDN Fund became one of the projects showcased at the One Planet Summit as an initiative that offers practical solutions to global environmental issues.   The innovative investment vehicle provides environmentally, socially and financially sound approaches to the key challenges of land use. While healthy and productive land can store huge amounts of carbon and help mitigate the effects of climate change, the degraded soil loses much of this capacity. Land degradation occurs when people over-exploit natural systems while under-investing in them. At the same time, changes in climate can cause drought and desertification, leading to further land degradation and threatening the livelihoods of millions.  The LDN Fund enables public funders to secure the risks taken by private investors and target the climate and sustainable development goals simultaneously. The initiative, brokered by UNCCD Global Mechanism and managed by Mirova, brings together project leaders, land users and investors to promote healthy land as an investment in the future that can create green jobs, ensure food security and help address the effects of climate change.  Concluding the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron mentioned that the commitment to protect land and water resources from the effects of climate change resulted in several very specific measures, including the USD300 million to activate the LDN Fund and mobilize action against land degradation and desertification. France, Canada and other partners have announced their financial support for the initiative, making the target to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030 a realistic goal. Watch the Summit Live.  

The LDN Fund presented at One Planet Summit as a new investment model for the planet
UNCCD Regional Coordination Unit for Africa inaugurated in Morocco

Rabat, Morocco – 7 December 2017 –The official ceremony attended by the representatives of government ministries, African ambassadors, delegates of UN agencies and bilateral organizations marked the inauguration of the UNCCD Regional Coordination Unit (RCU) for Africa in Rabat, Morocco.  In her speech, the UNCCD Executive Secretary Mrs. Monique Barbut expressed her gratitude to the Government of Morocco for hosting the RCU and highlighted the country’s contributions to international processes related to sustainable development and climate change, as well as its leadership in such land-based action as the 3S Initiative.  She has also introduced the chief of the RCU, Mr. Boubacar Cissé.  Welcoming the RCU to Rabat, the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development, Maritime Fisheries, Water and Forests and Combating Desertification of Morocco Mr. Aziz Akhhannouch outlined the opportunities for intra-African cooperation that the presence of the RCU in Rabat will reinforce and stated that the government of Morocco will continue to support the RCU in fulfilling its mandate.    

UNCCD Regional Coordination Unit for Africa inaugurated in Morocco
Central Asian countries ready to start second phase of ambitious regional SLM programme 

Ankara – 7-8 December 2017 – The regional workshop for Central Asia met to finalize national and regional working programmes of five countries under the Central Asian Countries Initiative on Land Management Phase 2 (CACILM 2). The next step of the initiative builds on the successful implementation of the first stage of the programme to scale up integrated natural resources management on 2 600 000 hectares of drought-prone and salt-affected agricultural landscapes in Central Asia and Turkey, aiming to sequester 6.8 mln ton CO2e. The UNCCD secretariat played a catalytic role in supporting the UNCCD National Focal Points during the initial conceptualization phase.   Welcoming the ambitious regional programme, the head of the FAO Sub-regional office for Central Asia and Turkey, Ms. Yuriko Shoji emphasized that “partnerships and collaboration is at essence of CACILM2.” The representative of UNCCD Secretariat Ms. Jamal Annagylyjova in her presentation explained that CACILM programme was established back in 2006 as a platform for enhancing implementation of the convention in the region and that CACILM2 will enable capacity building of the countries in implementation of their obligations under the convention. Special session of the meeting was dedicated to the synergies between UNCCD and the regional programme. CACILM 2 will be closely linked to UNCCD by providing the platform for strategic dialogue for the countries, technical agencies, donors and partners on issues of LDN targets mainstreaming and measures, as well as LDN data in CACILM activities. CACILM 2 will also focus on the development of regional drought vulnerability mapping, thus contributing to the UNCCD Drought Initiative and providing new opportunities for collaboration. A proposal to include the UNCCD Secretariat in the Regional Coordination Council was also presented.  The multi-country programme, implemented by FAO (FAOSEC and AGL) and supported by GEF, governments of Central Asia and Turkey, ICARDA, ICBA, GIZ, ZOI and other regional organizations, will start operating in early 2018.   

Central Asian countries ready to start second phase of ambitious regional SLM programme 
Thailand celebrates World Soil Day 2017

Ratchaburi Province, Thailand – 5 December 2017 – The World Soil Day ceremony took place at the Khao Cha-Ngum Royal Study Centre for Land Degradation Development under the theme “Caring for the Planet Starts from the Ground.”  The event drew more than 2 000 participants, including the representatives of the national and local government, teachers, researchers, farmers, students from neighboring provinces and representatives from UN agencies, international institutions and the private sector.  The ceremony commemorated the memory of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, who earlier this year was honored as the first recipient of the Humanitarian Soil Scientist Award for his dedication to soil resource management. The organizations and individual farmers who employ best practices in sustainable soil management have also received recognition during the ceremony. The participants also visited the experimental plots, soil pits and natural forest at the Centre. The event, organized by the national Land Development Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Government of Thailand and the Asia-Pacific Regional Office of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was featured in a nation TV report with the focus on approaches to land degradation and the role of organic soil carbon in sustainable land management.  

Thailand celebrates World Soil Day 2017