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World Wildlife Day 2021

This year World Wildlife Day celebrates the theme ‘Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet’. Currently, up to 350 million people live within or close by forests, including some of our most ecologically diverse ecosystems.

World Wildlife Day 2021
Portrait of the week: Inna Modja

Inna Modja is a Malian actress and singer who topped the charts across continents. She has appeared in the Great Green Wall documentary, making an extraordinary journey along this new world wonder. Inna actively engaged with communities involved in the visionary initiative and later said that during her trip from west to east of the Sahel, following the route of the Great Green Wall planted by surrounding communities, she witnessed first-hand the importance of land for a world at peace.  Women, young people and everyone can work the land and reap the benefits when the land remain productive. It is when land is degraded and depleted, that communities are forced to migrate or the conflicts over access to resources arise. Inna says that it is her hope that the Great Green Wall will continue to grow, allowing all who live around it to coexist in peace, health and safety. As a proud UNCCD Land Ambassador, Inna is among young people who are changing the narrative of the Sahel. Her music, energy, commitment and humanitarian work resonate with audiences worldwide. Read more: The Great Green Wall of Africa UNCCD Land Ambassadors  

Portrait of the week: Inna Modja
Executive Secretary’s corner: February 2021

In this corner of the UNCCD, I will occasionally share my thoughts and highlight significant developments of interest to our readers and stakeholders. As with most international organizations, COVID-19 impacted our work. But I am convinced that we are moving in the right direction and that now is the moment for a breakthrough in the implementation of the Convention. Our commitment to sustainable solutions is taking a new turn. As does our understanding of how solutions can be leveraged so that we respond to and recover from the COVID-19 crisis and at the same time reduce the risk of future pandemics. Last year, most of our staff worked remotely for most of the year. Despite the challenges, we made significant progress. In fact, in many areas we exceeded the results we had envisioned half-way through the biennium. As momentum to open up economies builds up, land remains a critical part of our toolbox. Our priority is still to ensure the policy and implementation work we do helps people and economies to build back better, guided by our COVID-19 Response. Land-based solutions offer a viable pathway towards regenerating our communities, societies, and regional economies. Countries have committed to restore nearly 800 million hectares of land globally, and more than half of the world’s restoration potential  is now tied directly to the UNCCD’s Land Degradation Neutrality national voluntary targets (at 450 million hectares). This figure is from 90 countries, a majority of which had secured the commitment for implementation at high-levels of government by mid-2020. Another 14 countries have set their targets since and an additional 23 countries are working on setting their targets. Clearly, the Convention will play an important role in health recovery and rebuilding economies and environmental resilience. For instance, it is estimated that farmland restoration applied on 172 million hectares could generate 14.08 gigatons reduced CO2 by 2050. The restoration of the 250 million hectares of farmland earmarked, so far, for restoration under the LDN voluntary national targets could make a significant contribution to climate change mitigation and adaption in the short term, and environmental resilience long term. It is my hope that our Parties will seize this moment and momentum to make rapid progress on these targets. Documenting and communicating effectively the concrete and positive outcomes of land restoration on security, economy and health in their countries will be vital. The growing visibility of – and interest in – the Convention’s work is also evident through our engagement with the UN Security Council, One Planet Summit, G-20, and World Economic Forum. The financial commitments of over US$ 14 billion, referred to as the Great Green Wall Accelerator, was a good start to 2021. The Great Green Wall will deliver nature-based solutions to multiple challenges at epic scale to provide jobs and economic opportunities for millions and transform an entire region. We will build on this momentum, through future opportunities, including: the Food Summit that starts next week,  the event by the President of the UN General Assembly to mark the end of Decade on Desertification postponed from June 2020; the launch of the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration in June to support concrete work on the ground at country level; the Desertification and Drought Day on 17 June to raise awareness about the potential for restoration, and the Conferences of the Parties of the Rio Conventions on Biological Diversity and Climate Change. My optimism for change also comes from progress I have witnessed at other levels. Our working collaboration with the wider UN system, and with the other two Rio Conventions in particular, is stronger and closer. Our public outreach during the Desertification and Drought Day (over 70 million people) and to young people (over 2 million to date) is also growing. But the most significant, is probably a new appreciation globally that land health matters for security, human health and the economy. The 19th meeting of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention which starts in less than a month will meet under the most challenging circumstances ever. Let us make it an opportunity to further share, learn, inspire and help the communities we serve to recover faster, better and sooner. Now that the door is open, we ought to act together with a sense of hope, but also of urgency. Ibrahim Thiaw UNCCD Executive Secretary

Executive Secretary’s corner: February 2021
Portrait of the week: Ricky Kej

Ricky Kej is known internationally as a music composer, No.1 artist on the US Billboard chart and a Grammy Award winner. Committed to creating awareness on environmental and social causes, he composed UNCCD Land Anthem that showcases his strong dedication to music as a powerful catalyst that moves people from understanding their environmental responsibilities to making everyday decisions that mean taking less from nature: "Exceptional situations call for exceptional response. We must reflect on how we, as individuals and as global communities, can make a significant positive change  and use our talents and creativity to inspire action." — Ricky Kej Read more: UNCCD Land Anthem UNCCD Land Ambassadors Anniversary of Paris Agreement: Land Ambassador shares memories

Portrait of the week: Ricky Kej
UNCCD podcast series: episode 4

The first webinar on land-based jobs for youth was held successfully in November last year. Experts shared practical knowledge to help young people to overcome key obstacles to creating their own jobs. More specifically, they talked about building self-confidence and generating creative ideas. Due to time constraints, important questions from the participants were not discussed. The experts answer these questions in two podcasts.  In this podcast episode, we speak to Ms. Thato Mokgadi, the Tomato “Agripreneur” from Botswana. She provides insights on a wide range of issues for those just starting out; from the key steps in starting a business to when and where to find and invest money. Ms. Mokgadi shares: the top three tips when moving from the corporate sector into Agribusiness; about technology use and how to choose the plants most suitable for your business; as well as mentorship and staffing issues in rural areas.  Tune in to the podcast to learn and pick up winning ideas, and overcome the fear of building land-based business and creating your own green jobs. Read more: Webinars on land-based jobs for youth Land and youth UNCCD podcast series

UNCCD podcast series: episode 4