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On the sidelines of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the UNCCD took part in a high-level event at the opening night of Goals House held at the iconic Tavern on the Green in Central Park on 18 September 2022. The roundtable discussion titled "The Metaverse: A Technological Revolution for People and Planet", showcased key challenges and opportunities of Web3, which could open new frontiers to spark progress and how this technology could be harnessed for the SDGs. The panelists included Ms. Inna Modja, CEO of Code Green and UNCCD Land Ambassador, Ms. Marina Ponti, Executive Director of the UN's SDG Action Campaign, Ms. Shannon Campaign, the COO of World of Women, and Ms. Andrea Meza Murillo, UNCCD Deputy Executive Secretary. The event closed with a moving musical performance of Ms. Modja. The Web3 — a term for a reimagined Internet powered by decentralized technologies — transforms how we interact online and offers access to the Metaverse. This collective virtual space enhances the physical and digital reality and provides a rich array of experiences for gaming, social media, education and art. It also shows different pathways that could be a force for good and lead to inspiring action on desertification and climate change. UNCCD Deputy Executive Secretary Andrea Meza Murillo emphasized that the "Metaverse paves new pathways for visions of the future on what each of us can do to restore the land. By working together and changing our hearts and minds, we make the most of all opportunities to raise awareness of the importance of tackling urgent and interlinked challenges such as land degradation and drought, nature loss and climate change." Earlier this year, UNCCD unveiled Droughtland, a fictional drought-stricken nation, to spark a global conversation on the urgent issue of drought. The campaign features what life in Droughtland might feel like, highlighting the central message that no nation or community has to face such a crisis. While using the new social media filter on Instagram and #NoDroughtland hashtag, the campaign invites the audience to become citizens of Droughtland, having a first-hand experience on how drought impacts different dimensions of life and calling for solidarity to boost drought resilience. Earlier in the day, Droughtland campaign was present in Central Park to raise awareness and encourage New Yorkers and city visitors to join the campaign's call to action.
The UNCCD Land Anthem “Born from the Land’, performed by the Land Ambassador Ricky Kej, became an emotional curtain-raiser for the high-level thematic debate "Moment for Nature" that took place on 19 July 2022 in the General Assembly Hall of the UN Headquarters in New York. The debate focused on ways to achieve the Paris Agreement's 1.5-degree target and ensure humanity's future by promoting greater coordination of the global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect biodiversity on land and sea, restore life to degraded land and soils, combat pollution and enable circular economies. Somewhere along our journey as humans, we have forgotten that we are not the only species, we need to live in absolute peace and absolute harmony with every single entity of nature, co-existing with the land we walk on and the air we breathe" – Ricky Kej The two-time Grammy Award winner and a long-standing UNCCD Land Ambassador, Ricky Kej embodies and inspires positive change through the emotional language of art and music. The UNCCD Land Anthem that he created together with another Land Ambassador Baaba Maal and other musicians from Canada, India, the USA, Senegal, South Africa and Vietnam has already been produced in eight languages. The song that celebrates Life on Land has been performed at key international events, such as the UNCCD COPs and the Desertification and Drought Day global observances. You can download the lyrics in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish and Russian, and watch the original release on our YouTube channel.
UNCCD extends heartfelt congratulations to its Land Ambassador, music composer Ricky Kej, who has just received a Grammy Award in the Best New Age Album category for his album "Divine Tides," along with Stewart Copeland. This is the second Grammy win for Ricky, who is a passionate advocate for sustainable development and environment action. In his acceptance speech he shared his dream of the world as one family that is living in peace – within the human species and all entities on this planet: the wildlife, the forests, all the elements of nature – the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we walk on. Ricky himself teaches respect for nature by example, choosing a vegetarian diet, opting to use public transportation instead of owning a car and having his carbon footprint audited quarterly to monitor his environmental footprint and stay on top of his climate goals. Together with his fellow Ambassador Baaba Maal, Ricky is also the author of the UNCCD Land Anthem, which has been produced in six languages.
The Land for Life Programme was launched at the tenth UNCCD Conference of the Parties (COP10) in 2011 in the Republic of Korea as part of the Changwon Initiative. The Programme seeks to address the challenges of land degradation, desertification and mitigation of drought. To demonstrate that Land Degradation Neutrality is necessary and achievable, the Land for Life Programme engages in awareness raising and knowledge support. Every two years, the programme presents the Land for Life Award which aims to provide global recognition to individuals and organizations whose work and initiatives have made a significant contribution to sustainable development through sustainable land management.
UNCCD has recently renewed its partnership with Baaba Maal who is one of the six UNCCD Land Ambassadors. Hailing from the region of the Senegal River which is home to millions of people living in four Western African countries: Senegal, Mali, Guinea and Mauritania, the music legend Baaba Maal has vowed to fight desertification and climate change in the Sahel, by planting trees and making it a land of green. A singer and guitarist who has released albums since 1989 in a music career lauded across the world, Baaba Maal lent his unique voice to the sound track of the international blockbuster Black Panther, a film that won an Oscar and a Grammy Award for its music score. Since 2003, the musician has been committed to fighting various development challenges in Africa. His popularity means that he can make global impact to help create a new narrative for the Sahel as a region of opportunities, where a Great Green Wall Initiative works to transform lives of humanity’s most vulnerable people by creating green jobs, harnessing the Sahel’s abundant solar energy and building and prosperous future on land. "My music and songs use many words to describe the beauty of the Sahel – but now the beauty is disappearing and people are moving away from their villages. I want my music to call people to fix things, again. The first step is planting trees." — Baaba Maal Photo (L to R): Baaba Maal with UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw Read more: Land Ambassadors Great Green Wall