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Portrait of the week: David Chapoloko

This young climate advocate studied agronomy and forestry and is leading the movement Art 4 Climate Zambia that cleans up plastic litter and makes it into art. Together with other activists, David collects and sorts litter to make animal sculptures. He also teaches how to repair broken objects instead of throwing them away. He plans to expand this concept and build greenhouses out of litter, exploring the structural color theory. For Desertification and Drought Day 2021, David will lead a tree-planting project in Zambia's capital Lusaka with environmental societies in universities, school groups and the media.  Facebook: @davey.chapoloko  Twitter: @DavidChapoloko  Instagram: @davidchapoloko/  

Portrait of the week: David Chapoloko
LDN featured on Global Change Poster Explorer

A poster featuring Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) programme in South Africa created by M.Sc. student Laura Quast  has become a part of the gallery "Global Change Poster Explorer" developed as part of the "Hot Spots of Global Change" module of the Master's programme in Physical Geography at the University of Freiburg. As one of the countries in the LDN programme, South Africa has set national and sub-national targets to address land degradation. With 91 per cent of land surface made up of drylands and population highly dependent on agriculture, LDN is a high priority, as evident from the Sustainable Land Management Programme that works to implement nationwide policies and secure multiple ecosystem benefits in three pilot sites. The poster gallery, conceptualized and supervised by Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Glaser and developed by Michael Kahle on FreiDok is used as part of the Global Change lecture series. Posters in the gallery follow a variety of topics and can be filtered by theme, location, concept and landscape types as well as displayed on a map. Read more: Land Degradation Neutrality Countries setting LDN targets

LDN featured on Global Change Poster Explorer
Portrait of the week: Ibrahim Musa

A recent graduate of a geography and environmental management programme in Nigeria, Ibrahim volunteers with several organizations to plant trees and raise awareness among the youth on the effects of desertification and ways to address it. He writes a blog and draws cartoons to convey messages about land restoration. You can find him on: Facebook: @ibro941  Twitter: @Ibrodollars  Instagram: @ibrodollars/ 

Portrait of the week: Ibrahim Musa
Postponement and rescheduling of COP15

Message to Parties and Observers from the UNCCD Executive Secretary Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw I would like to inform Parties and observers to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, that, at its intersessional meeting held on 08 April 2021, the Bureau of the fourteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP14 Bureau), addressed under its agenda item II, matters related to the “Date and venue of COP15”. On that occasion the COP14 Bureau decided the following: In due consideration to the ongoing challenges posed by the evolution of the COVID19 pandemic worldwide, the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) due to be held in autumn 2021 (decision 33/COP.14) will be postponed and rescheduled between May and October 2022, at a venue to be confirmed in due course. An extraordinary session of the COP will be organized in a virtual format in 2021 to adopt an interim budget. The modalities, timing, and procedure for such a session will be further clarified by the Bureau in a subsequent meeting and accordingly shared with Parties. The secretariat will continue to ensure that Parties are fully updated on these important matters on a regular basis.

Postponement and rescheduling of COP15
Earth Day 2021

A message from the UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw: Earth Day 2021 has a starkly simple message: we must make 2021 a pivotal year in efforts to Restore our Earth and build back better from COVID-19. Building a climate resilient and net-zero world must go hand in hand with recovering from the economic effects of a global pandemic. The urgency is clear. This year already, we have passed a significant and sobering landmark: humanity has now caused the concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere to rise 50 per cent higher than before the Industrial Revolution. Research published last week suggests that just three per cent of the world’s land remains ecologically intact, and many scientists warn we are in the midst of the planet’s sixth great extinction. Yet there are reasons to hope. The G-20 launched the Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation. The delayed UNFCCC COP 26 happens in November. President Biden fulfilled his pledge to immediately re-join the Paris agreement on taking office, and today he hosts a Leaders Summit on Climate to further galvanize global efforts. Restoring our planet requires decisive action and ambition on many interlocking issues: addressing climate change, dialling back on consumption, and restoring our land and ecosystems to health. That’s why the UN’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will be launched in June, on World Environment Day. At the UNCCD, we believe scaling up land degradation neutrality and sustainable land management efforts will be fundamental to building a better world. Healthy land and soil, coupled with secure tenure of land for the most vulnerable, can alleviate food insecurity, reduce migration, and help reverse biodiversity losses. Restoring land can close 90 per cent of the agricultural yield gap, leading to an extra USD 1.4 trillion in agricultural production. These land based solutions are gaining momentum as low-tech, cheap and readily implemented solutions. They harness indigenous and local knowledge to implement restoration approaches like regenerative agriculture to deliver stable local communities with meaningful and sustainable lives – based on healthy soil and ecosystems. We can restore land and restore hope, in tandem. Africa’s Great Green Wall is transforming the lives of an entire region. It aims to slow and reverse desertification, reduce the impact, frequency, and intensity of droughts, and boost national and regional economies in the Sahel. By creating a mosaic of green and productive landscapes, it provides stability, livelihoods and a path out of poverty. The GGW is creating new green jobs, harnessing the Sahel’s abundant solar energy to power a future for those most at risk. This Earth Day, let us reaffirm our will to act on land restoration -at scale, to help humanity recover better, become more resilient, and to safeguard all our futures.

Earth Day 2021
Global Symposium on Soil Biodiversity

Keynote speech by UNCCD Executive Secretary Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw: Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Dear friends and colleagues, I would like to thank FAO and Director-General Qu Dongyu for the kind invitation and for our cooperation as we kickstart the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Dear friends, I asked a colleague what he suggests I talk about at the opening of this Global Symposium. He went on to ask me when was the last time I had an opportunity to speak about : Bacteria! Fungi! Protozoa! Arthropods! and even Worms! Not to mention, he said, the Other Soil Invertebrates and Vertebrates …and of course, the Plants that provide them all food in the form of organic matter. It reminded me of late Dr. Charles E. Kellogg who once said: “There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.” It is no wonder that scientists like Dr. Kellog have always considered soils the “factory of life”. These factories represent as much as a quarter of the world’s biodiversity. One quarter of the variation in life on Earth, from genes to organisms to communities. Under our feet is an extraordinary community of organisms working in a remarkable coordinated effort to bring the fertility to our soils that all food, fodder, and fiber depend on. These organisms bring structure to our soils, helping sequester carbon, contributing to climate regulation They store and purify water, helping mitigate drought They control pest outbreaks, and even provide life-saving medicines These organisms, in their extraordinary abundance and variety, are at the core of all ecosystem services – to all of nature’s contributions to people. And yet, over 33% of the Earth's soils are already degraded and 90% could become degraded by 2050. That is three short decades away. Three short decades, when soil formation is a process of centuries! If you allow me an analogy: this means that the workforce of the factory of life is also down 33%, and at risk of layoffs hitting 90%! When we consider what the COVID-19 pandemic has done – and is continuing to do – to the global workforce and the global economy, you can understand why this issue is crucial. Dear friends, Though not easy, this problem can -and must- be solved. And the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification are adamant about the fact that land is part of the solution. First, land has the power to accelerate all the Sustainable Development Goals. If we can keep land in balance, we can keep food, water, energy, carbon, and nature in balance as well. Ensuring soil biodiversity means carbon in the soil rather than the atmosphere, and where there is organic carbon, there is life. Second, prevention is better than the cure. Which is why soil conservation and sustainable land management are equally very important. Dear friends, All of our best efforts at prevention are still not be enough. This is why we join FAO and UNEP and all other partners in scaling up the impact of individual and collective action trough the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. The Decade is also a call of action, at scale, to steer the recovery towards a safer, more sustainable, and inclusive path to build back better from the COVID19 pandemic. It is because restoring land is a fast-acting solution. Restoring land can close up to 90 per cent of the agricultural yield gap, leading to an extra USD 1.4 trillion in agricultural production. The Decade aims to prevent, halt, and reverse the degradation of ecosystems. This is the response hierarchy of Land Degradation Neutrality which is integral to SDG Target 15.3. Addressing all levels of response is also the basis of the new G20 Initiative on Land Degradation. It is fully compatible with the climate change and biodiversity plans. Dear friends, Protecting the biodiversity of soils means ensuring the factory of life is running at full capacity, creating new jobs. This will require leadership from the highest levels of government, the continued well-coordinated efforts of scientists and the land managers who must put the science and policy to work. You who are this week – as I understand it, 4000 strong – you know how important soil biodiversity is. And I can sense your sleeves are already rolled up for the work ahead. I wish you success in your deliberations and look forward to helping countries put your outcomes into practice. Thank you.

Global Symposium on Soil Biodiversity