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Bonn, Germany – UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw met with Ms. Karyna Gomes, a popular Creole singer and composer from Guinea Bissau who headlines this year's Over the Border music diversity festival endorsed by the Convention. Ms. Gomes grew up listening to traditional rhythms, and her music has been influenced by her life on three continents – Africa, Latin America and Europe. In her songs she addresses such pressing social issues as forced migration. During the meeting on March 27, Mr. Thiaw described the work of the Convention in the area of migration caused by land degradation. He also presented the 3S Initiative that invests in land restoration and sustainable land management to create millions of jobs for vulnerable groups, in particular young people, returning migrants and displaced populations. UNCCD has been the partner of the Over the Border Festival since its inception four years ago. This year's festival dates are 21 March to 7 April. You can also catch Karyna's performance on Cosmo Radio on 5 April. Read more: About Karyna Gomes Over the Border music festival Land and human security 3S Initiative
By Monica Chiriac and Maria Veger/IOM Niger Agadez, Niger – Since December 2018, migrants staying at UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) transit center have been undertaking training in sustainable agriculture. The target is to train close to 500 West African migrants as they wait for their travel documents. IOM provides direct assistance to migrants who wish to return to their countries of origin from Niger under the Migrant Resource and Response Mechanism, funded by the European Union. Migrants have access to accommodation, water, food, medical care, preparation of travel documents, psychosocial support, recreational activities and vocational trainings in business management and agriculture. The trainings are offered five days a week in groups of 25, and are divided into technical and practical sessions that take place on the plots of land allocated by the UNCCD. The project is the result of the partnership of IOM and UNCCD that provides opportunities for reintegration of migrants by creating land restoration jobs. The trainings aim to contribute to environmental and climate change action as well as prevent radicalization in both transit and origin countries, minimizing forced migration caused by environmental factors – an objective aligned with the Global Compact for Migration. Learn more: See photos from the training Watch training video 3S Initiative: Sustainability. Stability. Security
Guiyang, China – Mr. Pradeep Monga, UNCCD Deputy Executive Secretary, on behalf of UNCCD, and Mr. Xu Qinglin, on behalf of Ningxia Forestry and Grassland Administration of China, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of the International Knowledge Management Center on February 26, 2019. Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, described the MoU as a very important step toward stronger cooperation between the UNCCD and China to enhance knowledge management as well as build capacity of national institutions and experience sharing among parties. Thiaw referred to the new satellite data released by NASA showing a planet greener than it was 20 years ago, thanks in large part to the massive tree planting and sustainable agricultural practices being followed in China and India. The event took place in the sidelines of the UNCCD COP13 Bureau meeting, held in Guiyang, China. The COP13 Bureau discussed, among others, the outcomes of the CRIC17 meeting recently held in Guyana, and the activities of the Committee on Science and Technology, including preparations for the upcoming CST14. The Bureau further addressed the draft agenda for the 14th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP14) to take place in October 2019 in New Delhi, India; and the details of the midterm evaluation of the UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework and the status of the study to evaluate the potential of the Convention to address desertification, as a driver of irregular migration.
Bonn, Germany – UNCCD has joined other UNBonn organizations on 8 March 2019 to celebrate the International Women's Day. This year’s celebration puts innovation by women and girls, for women and girls, at the heart of efforts to remove barriers to gender equality, accelerate progress for women’s empowerment and improve social protection systems. Addressing the meeting on UN campus, Dr. Heike Kuhn of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development presented on-the-ground projects that enable women's empowerment, such as WeCode programming school for women in Uganda. During the follow-up discussions, participants agreed that providing women with access to digital learning is essential for giving them much-needed options to acquire new knowledge and skills without leaving their jobs, families and communities. In his recent op-ed on the occasion of the International Women's Day, the UNCCD Executive Secretary Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw highlighted that science and technology can offer rural women new opportunities to tackle the daily challenges, reduce their workload, raise food production and participate more in the paid labour market. However, the real progress can only be achieved by creating an enabling environment to access these options through secure land rights, financing and education. Learn more: Actions around the world UNCCD Gender Action Plan Land and gender
By Ibrahim Thiaw, Under-Secretary General of the UN and Executive Secretary of UNCCD Science and technology offer exciting pathways for rural women to tackle the challenges they face daily. Innovative solutions for rural women can, for example, reduce their workload, raise food production and increase their participation in the paid labour market. But even the very best innovative, gender-appropriate technology makes no sense without access to other critical resources, especially secure land rights, which women in rural areas need to flourish. Land degradation and drought affect, at least, 169 countries. The poorest rural communities experience the severest impacts. For instance, women in areas affected by desertification, easily spend four times longer each day collecting water, fuelwood and fodder. Moreover, these impacts have very different effects on men and women. In the parts of Eritrea impacted most by desertification, for example, the working hours for women exceed those of men by up to 30 hours per week. Clearly, poor rural women would benefit the most from new ways of working on the land. Therefore, technology and innovation must benefit women and men equally for it to work well for society. Even more so at a time when technology is becoming critical to manage the growing threats of desertification, land degradation and drought. In Turkey, for instance, farmers can get information on when to plant in real time, using an application installed on a mobile phone. However, in most parts of the world, the adoption rates of technology are especially low among rural women, possibly because very often technologies are not developed with rural women land users in mind. For example, a wheelbarrow can reduce the time spent on water transport by 60 per cent. But its weight and bulk makes it physically difficult for most African women to use. The demand for technology design that meets rural women’s specific needs is great. But developing appropriate technology is not enough, if the pre-requisites for technology uptake, in particular access to land, credit and education, are not in place. Today, a web of laws and customs in half the countries on the planet  undermine women’s ability to own, manage, and inherit the land they farm. In nearly many developing countries, laws do not guarantee the same inheritance rights for women and men. In many more countries, with gender equitable laws, local customs and practices that leave widows landless are tolerated. For instance, a 2011 study carried out in Zambia shows that when a male head of household dies, the widow only gets, on average, one-third of the area she farmed before. The impact of such changes on the world’s roughly 258 million widows and the 584 million children who depend on them is significant. It leaves us all worse off. Globally, women own less land and have less secure rights over land than men. Secure access to land increases women’s economic security, but it has far greater benefits for society more generally. Women who own or inherit land also control the decisions that impact their land, such as the uptake of new technology. A study in Rwanda shows that recipients of land certificates are twice as likely to increase their investment in soil conservation relative to others. And, if women got formal land rights, they were more likely to engage in soil conservation. Initiatives that benefit rural women do not stop at the household or local levels. At scale, such investments have a huge global impact. If women all over the world had the same access as men to resources for agricultural production, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 per cent. This could raise the total agricultural output in developing countries substantially at national scales, and reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by 12 to 17 per cent. If we want to tackle the underlying causes of gender inequality, to build smart and innovate for change, then technology is good. Innovative, gender appropriate technology is better. But these will have little impact if the pre-requisites for its uptake by women, in particular access to land, credit and education, are non-existent. References: Reuters, 2015, article by Manipadma Jena. Turkey's plan to help farmers adapt to climate change? Ask a tablet Theis, Sophie et al. (2018): What happens after technology adoption? Gendered aspects of small-scale irrigation technologies in Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania. Agricultural and Human Values Ashby, Jacqueline et al ( n.d.) Investing in Women as Drivers of Agricultural Growth, p.3 FAO/IFPRI (2014): Gender specific approaches, rural institutions, and technological innovations, p. 13 et seq, p. 4. Huyer, Sophia, 2016: Closing the Gender Gap in Agriculture, Gender, Technology and Development 20(2) 105–116, p. 108 Huyer, Sophia, 2016: Closing the Gender Gap in Agriculture, Gender, Technology and Development 20(2) 105–116, p. 108 Chapoto, Antony et al. (2011): Widows’ Land Security in the Era of HIV/AIDS: Panel Survey Evidence from Zambia," Economic Development and Cultural Change 59, no. 3 511-547 Coughenour Betancourt Amy (2018): The Green Revolution reboot: Women’s land rights UN Women, Facts & Figures Ali, D.A. et al (2011): Environmental and Gender Impacts of Land Tenure Regularization in Africa: Pilot Evidence from Rwanda. 28 pp. Sanjak, Jolyne (2018): Women’s Land Rights Can Help Grow Food Security FAO (2011): Closing the gender gap in agriculture
New York, USA – The delegates from the parliament of Iceland visited the UNCCD New York Liaison office on 24 October 2018 to discuss the work of the convention and the role of land restoration in achieving Iceland’s recent decision to go carbon neutral by 2040. Speaking to the delegates, the Chief of UNCCD office in New York Mr. Melchiade Bukuru presented the major highlights in the evolution of the convention, including the adoption of the global target 15.3 on Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) into the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Iceland, as the co-chair of the Group of Friends of UNCCD, has been instrumental in reaching this milestone. In his briefing, Mr. Bukuru also emphasized that UN General Assembly has recently recognized LDN as an accelerator for the achievement of other SDGs, such as eradication of poverty, gender empowerment, food security, elimination of hunger and improvement in health. The briefing also included an overview of the LDN Fund – the first public-private partnership established to support the achievement of LDN. The follow-up discussions included Iceland's experience in combating land degradation, the essential role that enabling legislation can play in achieving LDN, the multiple benefits of reversing land degradation for the conservation of biodiversity and the advancement of the Paris Agreement, success stories in land restoration from Niger and China and the linkages between land degradation and forced migration. The UNCCD and Iceland have a successful history of cooperation on the issues of desertification, land degradation and drought. Recently, the convention was invited to give a presentation on LDN as a framework for optimizing eco-restoration in the era of climate change at SERE Europe 2018 conference in Reykjavik, Iceland. Read more: Achieving land degradation neutrality Iceland launches new climate strategy In the photo (left to right): Mr. Melchiade Bukuru, Ms. Líneik Anna Sævarsdóttir, Mr. Logi Már Einarsson, Mr. Brynjar Níelsson, Ms. Bjarkey Gunnarsdóttir, Ms. Nandhini Iyer Krishna.