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IWG recommends actions on drought for countries

The online meeting of the Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) on drought on 13-15 December 2021 brought together 30 regional representatives, scientists, international organizations and members of civil society, to review new policy and institutional measures that can help address drought effectively under the Convention. The novel findings and recommendations are the result of the two years of work since the IWG was established by Parties at UNCCD COP14 in New Delhi, India in 2019. The final recommendations of the IWG will be presented to Parties at UNCCD COP 15 which will take place in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire in May 2022. The holistic approach to drought proposed by the IWG are expected to support early action on drought to help the most vulnerable communities and ecosystems. Read more: Land and Drought The Intergovernmental Working Group on Drought

IWG recommends actions on drought for countries
Report on state of world's land and water resources for food and agriculture released

Remarks by UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw Dear colleagues and friends I am honoured to participate in the launch of this year’s State of the World's Land and Water Resources, and I thank our friends and partners at FAO for their kind invitation and for our continued collaboration. The document we have in front of us today is a timely contribution to the sustainable development agenda and bolsters the evidence base needed to drive regenerative solutions that our societies urgently – and rightly - demand. Observing the confluence of crises – from drought, wildfires and floods to persistent epidemics and devastating pandemics – we are rapidly approaching certain limits in the planetary system -- and if I may say -- pushing the envelope that keeps us all safe. Many of the breaking points in our food systems are due to our activities, specifically the over-exploitation and poor management of land and water resources. Likewise, its within our power and capacity to transform our actions so that we avoid land degradation, reduce land resource pressures, and begin planning and preparing for the future. Protecting and restoring nature is an urgent priority and requires an immediate response– pivoting from reactive to proactive. The objective of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification is to assist countries with the “rehabilitation, conservation and sustainable management of land and water resources, leading to improved living conditions” Land restoration is all about creating opportunities for people by transforming the governance of land resources to facilitate a shift to regenerative management practices. Everyone has a role to play in restoring land – individuals, communities, businesses, governments, and international organizations all have a stake in the future. And we are here to support all of you in that quest. Our convention provides the multilateral legal and institutional framework not only to tackle, together, desertification, land degradation and drought, but to advance together in unveiling the opportunities that land restoration offers to all of us in terms of food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation and ecosystem conservation, to name a few. Under the UNCCD, for example, response actions committed under the Land Degradation Neutrality targets focus on improving health and productivity of our land. We expect to advance on this agenda, along with other important aspects of land restoration, at our upcoming COP15 that will take place in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, during the 2nd and 3rd weeks of May 2022. In closing, I would like to encourage you to join us in our journey to Abidjan and to conserve, protect and restore our precious land, for the health and the development of people and planet. Thank you very much.

Report on state of world's land and water resources for food and agriculture released
Remarks by UNCCD ES Ibrahim Thiaw at 61st GEF Council

Agenda item on Relations with Conventions and other International Institutions (Agenda item.10) Co-Chairs, Council members, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am grateful for this opportunity to brief the Council again. The Council meets at a time when the world is grappling with the increasing challenges in the path to sustainable development. You are meeting this time round when land restoration is becoming more relevant by the day. I see the beginning of a large-scale land restoration movement across the world. When World Leaders speak of trillion trees to be planted, we should translate these into hectares of land being restored. Restoring degraded lands, as you know, generates revenues for poor populations. Land restoration also brings more food to the hungry and to the markets. It’s restoring ecosystems and biodiversity. When they say planting trees, we should hear enhancing resilience to the climate crisis while sequestering large quantities of carbon from the atmosphere and bringing carbon back to where it belongs, to the soil. Just last month at the UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow, more than 140 countries agreed on a common declaration, namely the Glasgow Leader’s Declaration on Forests and Land Use. Leaders committed to working together to reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. We now need to move rapidly from Summit Declarations to real implementation on the ground. Another positive outcome of Glasgow was the Bezos Earth pledge of $1 billion dollars for landscape restoration in Africa, especially for  the implementation of the Great Green Wall. The pledges to the Great Green Wall are now totaling more than 19 billion dollars. This Africa-led land restoration initiative, which you are familiar with, would not be possible without the incubation of the GEF. The Great Green Wall is one the concrete examples of a program, which, from its early stages, benefited from the support of the GEF. When only few believed on the Great Green Wall, the GEF saw the potential of a glass half full. Today, banks and other financial institutions are investing on the Great Green Wall. This is a concrete demonstration that investing in nature can be a profitable business, even in the Sahel, one of the harshest conditions on Earth. UNCCD is working closely with all partners and the 11 countries of  the GGW to develop mechanisms that allow better access to the existing funds to help address land restoration, drought, renewable energies, youth and women’s employment across the Sahel region. I would like to express our gratitude once again to you, as members of the Council, and to the GEF Secretariat, for your trust and support. Today, we are happy to see similar initiatives being developed in other parts of the world. Again, a concrete case of what a successful demonstration programme can do, namely, to serve as an example and to emulate. In that respect, the Middle East Green Initiative announced in March 2021 was launched in Riyadh last month. It aims, among others, to restore 200 million hectares across the Greater Middle East. In parallel, Saudi Arabia launched its own national green initiative, which aims at restoring 40 million hectares of degraded land. Similar initiatives are already in place in India, Pakistan, China. We are pleased to see other countries developing similar plans, including Mongolia, the countries of the dry corridor of Latin America, as well the countries of Southern Africa, under the SADC umbrella. In addition, just two weeks ago, I signed in Riyadh an agreement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to set up the Secretariat of the "G20 Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation and Enhancing Conservation of Terrestrial Habitats”, that is the initiative launched by the G20 leaders under the Saudi G20 Presidency in November 2020. Under this initiative, the G20 leaders aim to prevent, halt and reverse land degradation across the world through private sector engagement, civil society empowerment, knowledge sharing and development.  The ambition here is to achieve a 50% reduction in degraded land by 2040. This will support other existing initiatives, adding momentum to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Council members, We, at UNCCD, are now focusing on our upcoming COP15, which will be held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire – the 2nd and 3rd weeks of May of 2022. Two topics are likely to be discussed by Parties amongst others: Firstly: Parties will review the report of the Intergovernmental working Group on drought, which was set up by the previous COP in New Delhi. Unfortunately, droughts are hitting every year more countries, more communities, more economies, and more ecosystems. As we speak, millions of people are deprived from food and basic needs in Eastern Africa and in Madagascar. It is really heartbreaking to see people starving, large mammals drying literally in the deserts; and millions of hectares of forests burning all over the world. Secondly: Large scale land restoration is likely to come up as a big topic at the next COP, the world seems to be finally waking up to the importance of nature-based solutions. This movement is now unstoppable. The smartest private investors have gotten the message. It is a critical moment for the GEF as we have on sight the early results of our 30 years of investment in nature. Thirty years of demonstration, research, and science. The moment has now come to move to large scale. In my recent trip to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Government authorities expressed their interest in developing what they call a « legacy programme ». As proud hosts to UNCCD COP15 and a country whose economy is largely dependent on agriculture, they want to invest on their best asset, namely: LAND. Hence, boosting long term environmental sustainability across major value chains.  Investing in large-scale sustainable management of land and soils in Côte d’Ivoire is investing in the country’s best asset: its natural capital. This will help protect and restore forests and lands and improving communities’ resilience to climate change. It’s an opportunity for UNCCD, GEF and other partners to work together to support this programme, which will help restore land and ensure sustainable development. That is the large-scale land management we are inviting GEF partners to consider, when moving ahead with the eighth replenishment of the facility. Keeping in view the emerging challenges that today’s world is facing, we hope that the replenishment of GEF-8 will find innovative, and creative ways to address these challenges. UNCCD will continue working with its Parties to set and update their voluntary land degradation neutrality targets and to develop projects to meet these targets. Most parties have developed national drought plans with UNCCD’s assistance; they are looking for support to implement these plans. Drought is an increasing threat due to the unpredictable changes in the world’s environment and there is a dire need of financing to enhance resilience and implement measures to combat effects of drought. So, allow me to close reminding us of the two issues that come high in the world’s attention: Drought management and mitigating the impacts of drought. Second, sustainable land management, large-scale land restoration. These, ladies and gentlemen, are important issues that also concern climate change, biodiversity, food, and human wellbeing. They are at the heart of what GEF is all about, and what GEF-8 should be focusing on. I thank you.

Remarks by UNCCD ES Ibrahim Thiaw at 61st GEF Council
UNCCD presents webinar on land tenure

The UNCCD Secretariat held a thematic webinar on land tenure on 1 December 2021 for UNCCD country Parties, CSO panel and observers. The webinar introduced key tenure concepts and how land tenure is linked with UNCCD’s work. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) presented the draft technical guide on how to integrate the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of land, fisheries, and forests in the context of national food security (VGGT) into the Convention and land degradation neutrality (LDN). Participants who represented various countries and regions had ample opportunity to ask questions and familiarize themselves with the draft technical guide. In 2019 at the UNCCD COP14, 197 Parties of the Convention adopted a landmark decision on land tenure. Recently, the UNCCD secretariat asked UNCCD country Parties, CSO panel and observers to submit their written contributions on the draft technical guide by 23 December 2021. The outcomes of this consultation process will contribute to the final version of the technical guide, which will be presented for the consideration of the UNCCD COP15 in May 2022. For further information on this consultation process, please contact Ms. Enni Kallio ekallio@unccd.int. Access the webinar recording in UN languages here.

UNCCD presents webinar on land tenure
UNCCD celebrates World Soil Day 2021 with children's e-book

This World Soil Day, UNCCD invites you to enjoy the Kids4Land e-book. It is a collection of entries from our recent art competition, where we have invited children from all over the world to share with us their vision of the land they would like to live on in the future. Together with their artwork, the kids also shared some profound messages. Beyond reminding us that we don't inherit our land from our ancestors but rather borrow them from our children, the kids have demonstrated that they ready to care for the future of their planet. "I tried to show what I’d like my future land to look like: a peaceful and united place, with humans and animals living on the land free of pollution and full of natural beauty and resources."" — Shoma from Bangladesh I want the land of the future to be beautiful. There's no drought because it rains everywhere, even in the desert. The rain brings out colorful rainbows, lots of water on the land and plenty of fish. And every child grows healthy and happy." — Hu Qingqing from Singapore "Nature is the most important thing, we have to look after it, we are nature too. We mustn’t forget that our countryside and animals are under threat from pesticides and climate change, we have to care for every part of the planet." — Benjamin Fallow from the UK Together with the German cartoonist Özi, we went through all the pictures and selected the 30 best, representing every region of the world. The finalists were invited to participate in an online master class on how to draw better. UNCCD also sent gifts and a certificate to recognize the top six submissions. Learn more: Download the e-book View the competition album on Flickr

UNCCD celebrates World Soil Day 2021 with children's e-book