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Parliamentarians from Iceland visit UNCCD offices in New York

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.

Parliamentarians from Iceland visit UNCCD offices in New York
Regional conference explores linkages between LDN and integrated erosion control in the South Caucasus

Kazbegi, Georgia – The regional conference “Integrated Erosion Control – from local experience to a vision for the South Caucasus,” organized by GIZ South Caucasus, Regional Environmental Center for South Caucasus and the UNCCD Secretariat, took place on 17-19 October 2018. Around 80 participants from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia gathered at the picturesque mountain settlement to explore the concept of land degradation neutrality (LDN) and ways in which integrated soil erosion control and prevention can help achieve LDN on the national and regional levels.  In her opening speech, the Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia Ms. Nino Tandilashvili mentioned the increasing soil degradation in the country and emphasized the importance of the regional dialogue for solving common problems. The Director of GIZ IBIS Programme Mr. Hans-Joachim Lipp shared a concern that soil erosion is a “silent catastrophe” which should get more attention from the decision-makers and the public. He also referred to LDN response hierarchy and stressed that prevention is more cost-efficient than rehabilitation activities.  The participants also had the opportunity to learn about the work of UNCCD and its role as a SDGs Target 15.3 custodian agency. The LDN concept has been presented as s system of integrated land use planning and practical local solutions that provides a variety of sustainable land management (SLM) techniques for various intervention levels, such as avoidance or minimizing and reverting land degradation. The UNCCD National Focal Points from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia led the discussion on how LDN national baseline and targets have been formulated in their countries.  Georgia has presented its experience in LDN integration in the municipal land use planning. The guidelines on LDN integration in the spatial planning developed for the conditions of one municipality will be up-scaled for use in four more municipalities in various ecologic zones. The importance of the locally relevant indicators such as vegetation density and yield productivity has been demonstrated, and the experience shows that further consideration should be given to designing two levels of indicators –global and local. The experience of Georgia can provide an excellent example for the implementation of LDN in the countries in Central and Eastern Europe as well as globally.  Various knowledge platforms focusing on best practices in sustainable land management have been presented during the knowledge management session, among them the UNCCD Knowledge Hub and the WOCAT database for the SLM practices, as well as PANORAMA and K-Link.  At the the SLM marketplace, the participants have demonstrated successful techniques for soil erosion control, including afforestation on eroded land, pile walls, application of hay and grass mulch and manure and solar-powered electric fences that protect the sites from animals.  A handbook on Integrated Erosion Control in Armenia, prepared by the Government of Armenia, GIZ and Austrian Development Cooperation has also been presented at the conference. Best SLM practices on the UNCCD Knowledge Hub Achieving LDN UNCCD Annex V   

Regional conference explores linkages between LDN and integrated erosion control in the South Caucasus
New open online course on gender and environment

The new course that aims to provide better understanding of linkages between gender and environment is the result of a joint initiative led by the Global Environment Facility ( the GEF) and its Small Grants Programme (SGP) in collaboration with the GEF Gender Partnership and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). Other international organizations that have made valuable contributions to the development of the course include the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), UN Women, United Nations Development Programme, UN Environment, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UNCCD, as well as the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.   The new course offers the knowledge and tools necessary to effectively mainstream gender into sustainable development initiatives. It offers facts, figures and information on key linkages between gender and the environment, and educates the users on the global international frameworks related to gender and environment. Depending on their specific interests and needs, the users can choose between any of the following six modules: Introduction  Climate change International waters Biodiversity Land degradation Chemicals and waste By taking the course, the users will be able to expand knowledge in the following areas: Links between gender equality and environmental sustainability  Global environmental frameworks that include gender  Gender-responsive policies and projects that support environmental outcomes  Ways to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the areas covered  by the learning modules  The e-course is free, self-paced and is open to the general public. Upon completion, the course participants will receive a certificate.  More information: Link to the course UNCCD gender action plan Land and SDGs Land climate change

New open online course on gender and environment
PRAIS reporting regional workshops concluded

Bonn, Germany – Five regional training workshops on reporting have been conducted in March-May 2018 as part of the capacity building activities implemented by the UNCCD secretariat, the Global Mechanism (GM), UN Environment and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The workshops have been attended by a total of 316 participants from 140 country Parties of the convention. Post-workshop evaluations submitted by the Parties provided an overall positive feedback as well as a request for further training on reporting requirements under the UNCCD. The secretariat and the GM have compiled a preliminary report on the strength and weaknesses of the workshops to improve future capacity-building initiatives related to the UNCCD reporting and review process.  Read more: Full report UNCCD reporting process

PRAIS reporting regional workshops concluded
Land degradation in mountainous regions discussed at GLOMOS

Bolzano/Bozen, Italy – Researchers, practitioners, representatives of governmental structures, NGOs, UN agencies and the private sector institutions converged this week in the autonomous province of South Tyrol in the Alps of northern Italy for the  Global Mountain Safeguard Research (GLOMOS) International Conference.  GLOMOS, a partnership between the United Nations University Institute for Human Security (UNH-EHS) and Eurac Research, aims to improve the living conditions of people in mountainous regions by increasing the resilience of mountain communities to climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss. Mountain regions cover a quarter of the planet’s land surface and are home to twelve percent of the world’s population. The wide range of ecosystem services that the mountains provide are vital to human well-being, serving as the world’s water tower for half of humanity’s freshwater.  During the conference, much of the discussion centered around the need for research on the modeling and simulation of mountainous socio-ecological systems, so that decision makers can access scenarios for landscape-level planning could both optimize interventions and help navigate tradeoffs. The participants worked to identify gaps and prioritize future work, so that the outcomes of the meeting can help orient future research agendas. The UNCCD Lead Scientist Dr. Barron Joseph Orr, who participated in a high level panel at this GLOMOS event, presented the specific challenges land degradation poses to mountainous regions and explained how land degradation neutrality (LDN) could serve as a framework to help turn scientific knowledge into action.  Read more: Mountain Partnership Mountain Research Initiative Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment Scientific conceptual framework for LDN

Land degradation in mountainous regions discussed at GLOMOS
UN Day in Bonn leaves no one behind

Bonn, Germany – Once again UNCCD has joined other UN organizations based in Bonn for a yearly celebration in the historic Marktplatz on 20 October 2018. To entice the crowds to visit the UNCCD booth and learn more about the organization's work, the Capacity Building Marketplace team designed fun activities to engage guests of all ages. They could trace a maze or spin the roulette for a chance to win a prize by answering a question related to one of the UNCCD focus areas: land degradation neutrality, sustainable land management, The Drought Initiative, sand and dust storms, land and human security, land and gender, land and climate change. Another big draw for the guests was a table presenting UNCCD publications, including the Global Land Outlook. Among many visitors who came to support UNCCD and its work toward sustainable development goal 15 "Life on Land" were the Mayor of Bonn Mr. Ashok Alexander Sridharan and the Consul General of Turkey in Cologne Mr. Baris Ceyhun Erciyes.     Learn more: UN Day 2018 photos on Flickr More about the event UN organizations in Bonn

UN Day in Bonn leaves no one behind