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No Droughtland: Global leaders call for urgent action to boost drought resilience

Desertification and Drought Day marked in Spain and around the world  Three out of four people may be affected by drought by 2050 Global campaign urges action now to ensure no country becomes Droughtland Countries and communities around the world pioneer solutions to boost drought resilience Bonn/Madrid, 17 June 2022 – In the face of growing impacts of drought exacerbated by land degradation and climate change, countries and communities must take action now to build drought resilience, global leaders urged today at a high-level event to mark Desertification and Drought Day in Madrid, Spain. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said: “Droughts in all regions are getting more frequent and fierce. The well-being of hundreds of millions of people is being compromised by increasing sandstorms, wildfires, crop failures, displacement and conflict. Climate change bears much responsibility, but so does how we manage our land. Taking care of our land and its biodiversity can help address the climate crisis and assist in reaching all our Sustainable Development Goals. Let us act now to drought-proof our future.” Drought resilience is the focus of this year’s global observance hosted by Spain and led by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), with commemorative events taking place around the world.  Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, said: “No nation—rich or poor—is immune to drought, and all countries can take steps to avoid the devastating impacts of droughts on people’s lives and livelihoods. Although we have made some progress, it is not enough. Drought is a natural hazard, but it does not have to be a disaster. We are calling on all countries to make this year’s global observance a pivotal moment where we commit to working together to restore our lands, protect natural resources and boost communities’ resilience to drought to ensure no country becomes Droughtland.” Teresa Ribera, Vice-President of the Government of Spain, said:  “Spain is one of the most vulnerable European countries to desertification. Almost three quarters of its territory are drylands susceptible to be affected by this phenomenon, 20% of which are already considered degraded. The fact that Spain has had to live with droughts and their consequences for decades has taught us the need to integrate drought into hydrological planning and water resource management, addressing it in advance and avoiding, as far as possible, emergency actions when severe situations have already been reached.” Droughts are hitting harder According to the latest UNCCD report, droughts are up 29% since 2000, with 55 million people affected every year. By 2050, droughts may affect an estimated three out of every four people around the world.  In the Horn of Africa, at least 26 million people are facing food shortages following four consecutive poor rainfall seasons. Elsewhere, communities from Chile to the United States, from Mexico to Morocco, from China to Spain are also in the grips of severe—and often unprecedented—drought. Patricia Kombo, Founder of PaTree Initiative and UNCCD Land Hero from Kenya, said: “Drought was declared a national disaster last October. And I have witnessed how it is affecting people in Turkana [County in Kenya] while we were providing emergency food relief there. I realized that droughts do not only affect food systems, but they fuel poverty, conflicts and migration… because in one village you could only find like 10 households and they were telling us the youthful generation had migrated…it’s a cross-cutting issue. ”  A drought in Southern Africa five years ago put 20 million people on the verge of starvation. This year Chile marked a record-breaking 13th year of drought. A prolonged drought in the United States that started in 2000 is the country’s driest period in over 1,200 years. Monterrey, the third largest city of Mexico, is rationing water due to drought.  “Desertification and drought are the primary causes of migration and inter-community conflict. It is not by chance that in most countries, years of drought are listed as years of economic downturn…. We must deal with drought, using every tool we can. Existing tools and resources may not be enough. But they can get us far, if we make a better use of the existing tools: Early Warning- Preparedness- Response…the recently held COP discussions in Abidjan have reinforced the momentum that has been building on the need to tackle, urgently, desertification, land degradation and drought,” said Alain Richard Donwahi, UNCCD COP15 President. Half of the world’s population is expected to face severe water scarcity in the next eight years. As many as 700 million people (about 10% of the world’s population) are at risk of being displaced during that period, according to UNCCD’s Drought in Numbers report. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, President, Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, said: “In Chad, the desert is advancing four kilometers every year. That means, in a few decades, the capital N'Djamena will be in the desert. And we are facing extreme weather events from drought around all the Sahel region and all over Africa. The rainy seasons are not coming anymore and this worsens the drought in our communities. We need urgent action to fight desertification, to fight this drought, to invest in our communities, to restore our ecosystem in order to give us good food production.” Examples of resilience in the face of drought A recent review of  drought risk mitigation measures by UNCCD and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) showcases examples from around the world of how countries and communities can boost drought resilience through better early warning systems, greater interagency cooperation, and a mix of traditional knowledge and innovative approaches.   In Brazil, Ethiopia and Tunisia, a combination of water harvesting and sustainable land management practices are used to reduce the impact of drought among vulnerable populations. There are signs of progress even  in the most vulnerable regions. The drought risk system in Africa’s Sahel is regional in scope. Originally set up 50 years ago, it brings together the entire range of stakeholders, from producer associations to decision-makers, who benefit from scientific and technological capabilities provided by regional organizations.  India has taken an even more comprehensive approach that includes drought management as part of the national disaster management plan and involves various institutions at national, state and local levels. It is built around early action that begins with the management of the country's water system, including rainwater, rivers and groundwater.  In Central America’s Corredor Seco, the dry corridor stretching across Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, as well as areas of Costa Rica and Panama, community contingency funds are used to support drought-hit farmers without access to formal financing and insurance systems. Over 60% of the population depends on the production of staple grains for their livelihoods, and in three out of five harvest cycles, small farmers suffer significant losses. The United States has recently announced that drought will become a strategic domestic and foreign policy priority. The country has some of the most sophisticated and advanced drought-monitoring and response mechanisms, which could benefit and fast-track the development of collaborative action at the global level.  “The good news is, real solutions exist,” Thiaw said. “Countries should have access to robust and effective early warning and monitoring systems. Countries, especially in drought-prone areas, should plan for solid drought preparedness and act now! Communities, especially the most vulnerable ones, should have access to adequate insurance schemes to protect their lives and livelihoods. By restoring land back to health, we can protect our climate and water resources, boost drought resilience and sustain life on this planet,” he added. Drought resilience was a top agenda item at the 15th Session of the UNCCD Conference of the Parties (COP15) held in Côte d’Ivoire in May. Countries agreed to establish an Intergovernmental Working Group for 2022-2024 to evaluate all options for the Convention to support a shift from reactive to proactive drought management. The Group’s findings and recommendations will be presented at the UNCCD COP16 to be held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2024. Highlights of activities in Spain and around the world In Spain, the host of this year’s global observance, a high-level event at the Reina Sofia Museum brought together renown scientists, issue experts, youth representatives and high-level policymakers from Spain and around the world to discuss:  the role of science based on the drought risks identified for different climate change scenarios  success stories of drought mitigation and adaptation in Spain and other countries. viable drought policies and their components  As part of the global Droughtland campaign, an information booth was set up in the centre of Madrid to raise public awareness on the impacts of drought. In addition, an event at Casa Arabe organized by Fundación Biodiversidad in cooperation with Basque Culinary Centre brought together top chefs and experts to discuss the challenges of food production in drought-prone areas. Other countries around the world are marking this year’s Day to bring public attention to the threats from and solutions to drought.   They include Chad, Kenya, Mali and Tunisia from Africa. China, Iran, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan from Asia. Colombia and Mexico in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. Italy, Portugal and Spain in the Northern Mediterranean region. The Russian Federation in Central and Eastern Europe.  But anyone can take action. NGOs CARI and Coordination Sud in France and Shine Africa Foundation in Uganda are among those organizing events this year. Notes to editors Journalists wishing to cover the event in Madrid, Spain need to be registered, and should email: bzn-prensa@miteco.es and copy wwischnewski@unccd.int. A copy of your valid press card and passport will be required to pick your access card. Download various materials here (https://bit.ly/3xd4IjC), including: b-roll and images on the drought in Eastern Africa (https://bit.ly/3Pw6ULm). Credit UNCCD video messages and testimonials from around the world (https://bit.ly/3zJVFcY)   Videos and assets from the Droughtland campaign (https://bit.ly/3zvCfsb) Credit UNCCD Images of the event in Spain will be uploaded here (https://bit.ly/3xBtCuI). For information about Desertification and Drought Day events in Spain and around the world, contact Xenya Scanlon, Chief of Communications, UNCCD: xscanlon@unccd.int  For media related inquiries: On site contact: Alejandro Gomez, argomez@miteco.es  Virtually: Wagaki Wischnewski, wwischnewski@unccd.int, +49 173 268 7593 (m) About Desertification and Drought Day Officially declared by the UN General Assembly in 1997 (Resolution A/RES/49/115), the annual Desertification and Drought Day has three objectives. First, to promote public awareness about desertification and drought. Second, to let people know that desertification and drought can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim lay in strengthened community participation and cooperation at all levels. Lastly, to strengthen implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.  For information about Desertification and Drought Day visit: https://www.unccd.int/2022-desertification-and-drought-day About Droughtland Do you know where Droughtland is? Are you interested in a visa to live there? Think twice because Droughtland is... special. In the lead up to the 2022 Desertification and Drought Day, UNCCD launched Droughtland, a public awareness campaign featuring a fictional drought-stricken nation, to showcase solutions and rally global action to boost drought resilience. Learn more about the campaign: droughtland.com Social Media: @TourDroughtland  About UNCCD The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the global vision and voice for land. We unite governments, scientists, policymakers, private sector and communities around a shared vision and global action to restore and manage the world’s land for the sustainability of humanity and the planet. Much more than an international treaty signed by 197 parties, UNCCD is a multilateral commitment to mitigating today’s impacts of land degradation and advancing tomorrow’s land stewardship in order to provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people in an equitable and inclusive manner. Quotes Below is a selection of video messages and quotes for media use: https://bit.ly/3zJVFcY Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly “…we must recognize that our actions, our ways of living have dire consequences. In just over a century, droughts have impacted at least 2.7 billion people globally and caused 11.7 million deaths. Forecasts estimate that by 2050, droughts may affect over ¾ of the world’s population. All of this while we continue to devastate the very land we depend upon… Together, we can turn this trend around. Together, we can restore the productivity of over 2 billion hectares of degraded land and improve the livelihoods of over 1.3 billion people around the world… Let us take the commitments made during UNCCD COP15 and renew our commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality by 2030.” Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “We must realize that we are pushing the boundaries of this planet. Drought is but one consequence of this constant and unrelenting pressure. We have statistics to show that droughts are increasing in frequency and severity. But numbers cannot measure the misery of thirst, the fear of a failed crop or waiting for rain clouds to appear on the horizon — but waiting in vain. We need unified, concerted and ambitious action. Namely, we need nations to come up with stronger national climate action plans and ensure they are tabled annually.” Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity “The links between drought and human activities are strong and go both ways, each having an impact on the other. The desiccation of the Aral Sea is a tragic example where unsustainable water consumption has led to irreversible loss of the inland water ecosystem and its biodiversity, increased drought and dust storms. Protecting biodiversity can drought-proof nature and societies. Nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches are cost-effective, long-lasting and bring multiple benefits for people and nature.” Dongyu Qu, Director General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations “The impact of droughts has seriously affected all agrifood systems.  Yet, agrifood systems can provide a solution to climate change, land degradation and water scarcity.  We must transform our agrifood system to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient, and more sustainable. FAO is actively supporting Members to address water scarcity at the national, regional, and international level.” Monica Medina, Assistant Secretary of State, United States of America “Individuals, communities and governments must act to combat desertification and drought around the world and build long-term resilience… We also need to shift planning horizons. These issues will be with us for the long run and we need to get ahead of the curve. We must all think long-term and find innovative ways to reduce drought instead of just responding to the devastating impacts caused by drought. We need to act before damage is done. That’s why we encourage governments around the world to develop their own land planning processes and provide funding for climate-smart agricultural policies before drought hits. Using data to improve drought forecasting is a key pillar of our approach under the recently released White House action plan on global water security.”  Juan Carlos Jintiach, Indigenous leader from Ecuador “Drought and desertification are very important issues that we Indigenous Peoples must have on our agenda. They are affecting the forests, our food, our living conditions—not only in the Amazon region but in the Andean region that connects the rivers and the water sources. We are Indigenous Peoples of the land, and we see water as part of a being, water as part of our nature and part of Mother Earth.”

No Droughtland: Global leaders call for urgent action to boost drought resilience
World “at a crossroads” in drought management, up 29% in a generation and worsening, says UN

Humanity is “at a crossroads” when it comes to managing drought and accelerating mitigation must be done “urgently, using every tool we can,” says a new report from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Drought in Numbers, 2022, released today to mark Drought Day at UNCCD’s 15th Conference of Parties (COP15, 9-20 May in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire) – calls for making a full global commitment to drought preparedness and resilience in all global regions a top priority. The report, an authoritative compendium of drought-related information and data, helps inform negotiations of one of several decisions by UNCCD’s 196 member states, to be issued 20 May at the conclusion of COP15. “The facts and figures of this publication all point in the same direction: an upward trajectory in the duration of droughts and the severity of impacts, not only affecting human societies but also the ecological systems upon which the survival of all life depends, including that of our own species.” says Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD. The report creates a compelling call to action. For example: Since 2000, the number and duration of droughts has risen 29% From 1970 to 2019, weather, climate and water hazards accounted for 50% of disasters and 45% of disaster-related deaths, mostly in developing countries Droughts represent 15% of natural disasters but took the largest human toll, approximately 650,000 deaths from 1970-2019 From 1998 to 2017, droughts caused global economic losses of roughly USD 124 billion In 2022, more than 2.3 billion people face water stress; almost 160 million children are exposed to severe and prolonged droughts Unless action is stepped up: By 2030, an estimated 700 million people will be at risk of being displaced by drought By 2040, an estimated one in four children will live in areas with extreme water shortages By 2050, droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population, and an estimated 4.8-5.7 billion people will live in areas that are water-scarce for at least one month each year, up from 3.6 billion today.  And up to 216 million people could be forced to migrate by 2050, largely due to drought in combination with other factors including water scarcity, declining crop productivity, sea-level rise, and overpopulation See below for additional report highlights “We are at a crossroads,” says Mr. Thiaw.  “We need to steer toward the solutions rather than continuing with destructive actions, believing that marginal change can heal systemic failure.” “One of the best, most comprehensive solutions is land restoration, which addresses many of the underlying factors of degraded water cycles and the loss of soil fertility. We must build and rebuild our landscapes better, mimicking nature wherever possible and creating functional ecological systems.” Beyond restoration, he adds, is the need for a paradigm shift from ‘reactive’ and ‘crisis-based’ approaches to ‘proactive’ and ‘risk-based’ drought management approaches involving coordination, communication and cooperation, driven by sufficient finance and political will.  Needed as well: Sustainable and efficient agricultural management techniques that grow more food on less land and with less water Changes in our relationships with food, fodder and fiber, moving toward plant-based diets, and reducing or stopping the consumption of animals Concerted policy and partnerships at all levels Development and implementation of integrated drought action plans Set up effective early-warning systems that work across boundaries Deployment of new technologies such as satellite monitoring and artificial intelligence to guide decisions with greater precision Regular monitoring and reporting to ensure continuous improvement Mobilize sustainable finance to improve drought resilience at the local level Invest in soil health Work together and include and mobilize farmers, local communities, businesses, consumers, investors, entrepreneurs and, above all, young people The new UNCCD report notes that 128 countries have expressed willingness to achieve or exceed Land Degradation Neutrality. And nearly 70 countries participated in the UNCCD’s global drought initiative, which aims to shift from reactive approaches to drought to a proactive and risk-reducing approach. Mr. Thiaw underlined the importance of promoting public awareness about desertification and drought, and letting people know the problems can be effectively tackled “through ingenuity, commitment and solidarity.” “We all must live up to our responsibility to ensure the health of present and future generations, wholeheartedly and without delay.” The COP15 decision on drought is expected to touch on five interrelated areas: drought policies early warning, monitoring and assessment knowledge sharing and learning partnerships and coordination, and drought finance UNCCD launches “Droughtland” public awareness initiative The campaign will be featured during UN Desertification and Drought Day (17 June), hosted this year by Madrid, Spain UN Desertification and Drought Day has four key objectives: Equip people worldwide with tools to assess their current or potential future exposure to drought risk Share proven, innovative international solutions to drought Create public opportunities to participate in action, and Celebrate progress and inspire action Additional highlights, Drought in Numbers, 2022 Drought around the world (1900-2022) More than 10 million people died due to major drought events in the past century, causing several hundred billion USD in economic losses worldwide.  And the numbers are rising Severe drought affects Africa more than any other continent, with more than 300 events recorded in the past 100 years, accounting for 44% of the global total. More recently, sub-Saharan Africa has experienced the dramatic consequences of climate disasters becoming more frequent and intense In the past century, 45 major drought events occurred in Europe, affecting millions of people and resulting in more than USD 27.8 billion in economic losses. Today, an annual average of 15% of the land area and 17% of the population within the European Union is affected by drought In the U.S., crop failures and other economic losses due to drought have totaled several hundred billion USD over the last century – USD 249 billion alone since 1980 Over the past century, the highest total number of humans affected by drought were in Asia Impacts on human society Over 1.4 billion people were affected by drought from 2000 to 2019. This makes drought the disaster affecting the second-highest number of people, after flooding. Africa suffered from drought more frequently than any other continent with 134 droughts, of which 70 occurred in East Africa The effect of severe droughts was estimated to have reduced India’s gross domestic product by 2-5% As a result of the Australian Millennium Drought, total agricultural productivity fell by 18% from 2002 to 2010 Greater burdens and suffering are inflicted on women and girls in emerging and developing countries in terms of education levels, nutrition, health, sanitation, and safety The burden of water collection – especially in drylands – falls disproportionately on women (72%) and girls (9%), who, in some cases, spend as much as 40% of their calorific intake carrying water Droughts have deep, widespread and underestimated impacts on societies, ecosystems, and economies, with only a portion of the actual losses accounted for A 2017 California case study showed that an increase of about 100 drought stories over two months was associated with a reduction of 11 to 18% in typical household water-use Impacts on ecosystems The percentage of plants affected by drought has more than doubled in the last 40 years, with about 12 million hectares of land lost each year due to drought and desertification Ecosystems progressively turn into carbon sources, especially during extreme drought events, detectable on five of six continents One-third of global carbon dioxide emissions is offset by the carbon uptake of terrestrial ecosystems, yet their capacity to sequester carbon is highly sensitive to drought events 14% of wetlands critical for migratory species, as listed by Ramsar, are located in drought-prone regions The megadrought in Australia contributed to ‘megafires’ in 2019-2020 resulting in the most dramatic loss of habitat for threatened species in postcolonial history; about 3 billion animals were killed or displaced in the Australian wildfires Drought-induced peatland fires in Indonesia resulted in decreasing biodiversity, including both the number of individuals as well as plant species Photosynthesis in European ecosystems was reduced by 30% during the summer drought of 2003, which resulted in an estimated net carbon release of 0.5 gigatons 84% of terrestrial ecosystems are threatened by changing and intensifying wildfires During the first two decades of the 21st century, the Amazon experienced 3 widespread droughts, all of which triggered massive forest fires. Drought events are becoming increasingly common in the Amazon region due to land-use and climate change, which are interlinked. If Amazonian deforestation continues unabated, 16% of the region’s remaining forests will likely burn by 2050 Predictable futures Climate change is expected to increase the risk of droughts in many vulnerable regions of the world, particularly those with rapid population growth, vulnerable populations and challenges with food security Within the next few decades, 129 countries will experience an increase in drought exposure mainly due to climate change alone – 23 primarily due to population growth and 38 mostly due to the interaction between climate change and population growth If global warming reaches 3 degrees Celsius by 2100 as some predict, drought losses could be five times higher than they are today, with the largest increase in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic regions of Europe In Angola, more than 40% of livestock, a significant livelihood source accounting for 31.4% of the agricultural GDP, is currently exposed to droughts and expected to rise to 70% under projected climate conditions In the E.U. and U.K., annual losses from drought are currently estimated to be around EUR 9 billion and projected to rise to more than EUR 65 billion without meaningful climate action Successful business cases By adopting drip irrigation, small-scale vegetable farmers in drought-prone provinces of VietNam (Binh Phouc), Cambodia (Prey Veng and Svay Reing), the Philippines (Lantapan and Bukidnon) and Indonesia (Reing and Bogor, West Java; Rembang, East Java) were able to increase water use efficiency by up to 43% and yield by 8-15% With the highest water efficiency rate in agriculture, reaching a 70-80% rate, drip irrigation has helped to solve the problem of water scarcity in Israel Other highlights Information Technology and Indigenous Knowledge with Intelligence (ITIKI) is a drought early warning system that integrates Indigenous knowledge and drought forecasting to help small-scale farmers make more informed decisions, for example, on when and how to plant which crops. The support forecast models provides accuracy of 70-98% for lead-times of up to four years, as shown by trials in Mozambique, Kenya and South Africa Up to USD 1.4 trillion in production value can be generated globally by adopting sustainable land and water management practices Approximately 4 million hectares of degraded land within “strict intervention zones” have been rehabilitated under the framework of the African Union–led restoration initiative known as the Great Green Wall – 4% of the Wall’s ultimate target of restoring 100 million hectares, helping to reduce the immanent threats of desertification and drought Related: UNCCD’s flagship Global Land Outlook 2 (GLO2) report, five years in development with 21 partner organizations, and with over 1,000 references, is the most comprehensive consolidation of information on the topic ever assembled. Released Apr. 27, it reported up to 40% of all ice-free land is already degraded, with dire consequences for climate, biodiversity and livelihoods. Notes to editors  The 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD, 9-20 May, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire) is focussed on: The restoration of 1 billion hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 Future-proofing land use against the impacts of climate change, and Tackling escalating droughts, sand and dust storms, wildfires and other disaster risks. More than a dozen heads of state and government, ministers, and at least 2,000 delegates from 196 countries and the European Union, are expected to attend. Major press events during the session can be viewed live on the UNCCD YouTube Channel here. Future Abidjan media programme highlights: Wednesday, 18 May (time TBC): Launch of regional Global Land Outlook reports Wednesday, 18 May (time TBC): Launch of the Sahel uplink challenge to enable communities growing the Great Green Wall to use technology to monitor progress, create jobs and commercialize their produce Friday, 20 May, 13:00-13:45 UTC (check local time here), outcomes of the 15th Session of the Conference of Parties, presented by Alain Richard Donwahi, COP15 President Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary Off-site journalists may submit questions via email to press@unccd.int, but must identify themselves and their media organization COP15 background documents and information: https://www.unccd.int/cop15 COP15 social media channels: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/unccd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UNCCD/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/UNCCD #LandLifeLegacy       #UNCCDCOP15         #United4Land           @unccd UNCCD COP15 is the first of the three Rio Conventions' meetings in 2022, with the Biodiversity COP15 and Climate Change COP27 convening later in Kunming, China, and Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, respectively. For further information: Xenya Scanlon, Chief of Communications, xscanlon@unccd.int Wagaki Wischnewski, Head of Press and Media, wwischnewski@unccd.int To request interviews: press@unccd.int COP15 programme, registration and other media information: https://www.unccd.int/cop15 * * * * *   The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD.int) UNCCD is the global vision and voice for land. We unite governments, scientists, policymakers, private sector and communities around a shared vision and global action to restore and manage the world’s land for the sustainability of humanity and the planet. Much more than an international treaty signed by 197 parties, UNCCD is a multilateral commitment to mitigating today’s impacts of land degradation and advancing tomorrow’s land stewardship in order to provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people in an equitable and inclusive manner

World “at a crossroads” in drought management, up 29% in a generation and worsening, says UN
The time is now to future proof the land, world leaders say at the Abidjan Summit

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 9 May 2022 -- Heads of State and Government meeting at the United Nations’ global conference on land have called on the international community to take urgent action to stem the loss of life and livelihoods that communities all over the world are experiencing due to the increasing and devastating impacts of desertification, land degradation and drought. Speaking at the Heads of State Summit convened ahead of the opening of the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Alassane Ouattara, President of Côte d’Ivoire, declared: “Our Summit must be one of hope, of the collective mobilization of States and development partners, in favour of land and forest restoration initiatives of our countries. We must use all the resources of our Conventions to meet the ever-increasing food needs and cope with the ever-increasing water stress of an ever-growing world population.” Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, said: “As we approach the halfway point of the Sustainable Development Goals, they remain our best hope to build a sustainable and inclusive future. The ground beneath our feet is the perfect foundation on which to build that future.” Abdulla Shahid, President of the United Nations General Assembly, said: “Productive land is critical to global food security and healthy ecosystems, as well as to the maintenance of stable livelihoods. It is a precondition for the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; for progress on the Rio Conventions on biodiversity and climate change; and for tackling pollution on land and at sea.” Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, said: “Now is the time for action. There is no future for our children or the planet if we continue with ‘business as usual’ when it comes to managing our land. COP15 is our moment in history, as the international community, to put people and the planet on a new course; on the path to life, to COVID-19 recovery and to prosperity. The decisions countries take at COP15 must be transformational, not incremental, to achieve land restoration and drought resilience the world longs for.” The Summit concluded with the adoption of Abidjan Call, which urges giving the highest priority to the issue of drought and reinforces the commitment towards achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030. The leaders’ call to action comes in response to a stark warning by the UNCCD that up to 40% of all ice-free land is already degraded, with dire consequences for climate, biodiversity and livelihoods. Business as usual will, by 2050, result in degradation of 16 million square kilometers (almost the size of South America), with 69 gigatonnes of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. But land restoration would help reduce the estimated 700 million people at risk of being displaced by drought by 2030. During the Summit, President Ouattara also announced the ambitious Abidjan Legacy Programme to boost long-term environmental sustainability across major value chains in Côte d’Ivoire while protecting and restoring forests and lands and improving communities’ resilience to climate change, which will require mobilization of US$1.5 billion over the next five years. Initial pledges made during the Summit towards this goal include those by the African Development Bank, the European Union, the Green Growth Initiative, and the World Bank Group. At the top of the COP15 agenda are the restoration of one billion hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 and future-proofing people, their homes and lands against the impacts of disaster risks linked to climate change, such as droughts, and sand and dust storms. COP15 is also expected to agree on policy actions to provide an enabling environment for land restoration through stronger tenure rights, gender equality, land use planning and youth engagement to draw private sector investment to conservation, farming, and land uses and practices to improve the health of the land. During the Gender Caucus convened alongside the Heads of State Summit, the First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire Dominique Ouattara and the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed launched a new study on the differentiated impacts of desertification, land degradation and drought on men and women. The study shines the spotlight on the disproportionate impacts women and girls are facing when land is degraded and how, if given the agency, they can be at the forefront of global land restoration efforts. Dominique Ouattara, First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire, said: “Women are the backbone of the rural economy, especially in developing countries. They represent almost half of the world's farmers. We must at all costs win together in our quest to empower women farmers through various measures including land tenure security and access to rural finance.” Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, added: "Women and girls are central to building a land restoration economy. But they continue to be marginalized, and to pay the heaviest price when it comes to land loss, climate change, COVID and conflict." Over 2000 participants, including a dozen Heads of State and Government, some 50 ministers and high-level delegates are expected at UNCCD COP15, which is taking place from 9-20 May in Abidjan. UNCCD COP15 is convening under the theme, ‘Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity', a call to action to ensure land, which is the lifeline on this planet, will also benefit present and future generations. UNCCD COP15 is the first of the three Rio Conventions meetings to be held in 2022, with Biodiversity COP15 and Climate change COP27 convening later on in Kunming, China and Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, respectively. The High-Level Segment continues on 10 May. The UNCCD COP15 formally opens on 11 May and is expected to adopt a set of decisions on these issues by the time it closes on 20 May. For more information contact: Xenya Scanlon, Chief of Communications, xscanlon@unccd.int Wagaki Wischnewski, Head of Press and Media, wwischnewski@unccd.int About The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the global vision and voice for land. We unite governments, scientists, policymakers, private sector and communities around a shared vision and global action to restore and manage the world’s land for the sustainability of humanity and the planet. Much more than an international treaty signed by 197 parties, UNCCD is a multilateral commitment to mitigating today’s impacts of land degradation and advancing tomorrow’s land stewardship in order to provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people in an equitable and inclusive manner. 

The time is now to future proof the land, world leaders say at the Abidjan Summit
Leaders’ summit in Côte d’Ivoire kicks off major UN conference on the future of land stewardship

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification convenes the 15th session of its Conference of the Parties in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 9-20 May 2022 Heads of State Summit hosted by President Alassane Ouattara on 9 May will address multiple crises linked to land degradation Countries to decide on future actions to mitigate escalating drought risk 5 May 2022, Abidjan – The 15th session of the Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), opens on Monday, 9 May 2022 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The COP15 theme, ‘Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity', is a call to action to ensure land, which is the lifeline on this planet, will also benefit present and future generations. The Conference will start with a Heads of State summit and high-level segment held back-to-back on 9-10 May to create political momentum and raise ambition in particular in meeting the 2030 global commitments on restoration and robust actions that build the resilience of communities that are vulnerable to drought. Leaders are meeting in Abidjan against the backdrop of a stark warning issued by the UNCCD that up to 40% of all ice-free land is already degraded, with dire consequences for climate, biodiversity and livelihoods. The Conference will focus on the restoration of one billion hectares of degraded land between now and 2030, future-proofing land use against the impacts of climate change, and tackling escalating disaster risks such as droughts, sand and dust storms, and wildfires. More than a dozen heads of state and government, ministers and at least 2,000 delegates from 196 countries and the European Union are expected to be at the two-week Conference that ends Friday, 20 May 2022. High-level delegates include: Alassane Ouattara, President of Côte d’Ivoire Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Abdulla Shahid, President of the United Nations General Assembly Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Chief Executive Officer, Global Environment Facility Inger Andersen, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme UNCCD Land Ambassadors Tarja Halonen, Ricky Kej, Byong Hyon Kwon, Baaba Maal, and Inna Modja UNCCD Land Heroes David Chapoloko, Musa Ibrahim, Patricia Kombo and Moses Mulindwa UNCCD COP15 is the first of the three Rio Conventions meetings to be held in 2022, with Biodiversity COP15 and Climate change COP27 convening later on in Kunming, China and Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, respectively. Among the programme highlights: Announcement of the Abidjan Legacy Programme on 9 May by the President of Côte d’Ivoire Alassane Ouattara, focusing on job creation and the restoration of degrading land in Côte d’Ivoire; Gender Caucus on 9 May chaired by the First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire Dominique Ouattara, which will include the launch of a new report on the differentiated impacts of desertification, land degradation and drought on men and women; Green Business Forum on 10-11 May that will focus on private sector commitments to take care of the land, among other things. Launch of Droughtland, a global campaign to rally action on drought on 11 May Launch of the regional Global Land Outlook reports on 18 May Launch of the Sahel uplink challenge to enable communities growing the Great Green Wall to use technology to monitor progress, create jobs and commercialize their produce. The press events planned during the session include: Opening press conference on Monday, 18:00-18:45 UTC (Press Conference Room) Prime Minister and/or Minister of Foreign Affairs, Côte d’Ivoire Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UNCCD The panel will present the host-country ambition and legacy initiative, COP15 expected outcomes and  findings of the study on gender, among other issues. Press Briefing on Tuesday, 10 May (time and location to be determined) Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UNCCD Abdulla Shahid, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations Mr. Jochem Flasbarth, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany Press Conference, Wednesday, 11 May, 13:00-13:30 Press Conference room Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary Representative of Spain, country hosting the global observance of Desertification and Drought Day 2022 Civil Society Representative Launch of Droughtland, a global campaign to rally drought action globally Press Conference, Friday, 20 May, 13:00-13:45 UTC Mr Abou Bamba COP15 President Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary Present the outcomes of the 15th Session of the Conference of Parties Media representatives are welcome to participate. Apply via this link: https://www.unccd.int/cop15/registration to receive accreditation. Press conferences will be conducted with interpretation in English, French and Spanish but webcast in the floor language. Off-site journalists may submit their questions to the panelists via email to press@unccd.int, but must identify themselves and the media organization they are reporting for. Detailed information about the Conference is available from the online Press Kit. Background documents and information on COP15 are available online: at: https://www.unccd.int/cop15 Social media for the Conference can be found on: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/unccd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UNCCD/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/UNCCD #LandLifeLegacy        #UNCCDCOP15          #United4Land             @unccd For further information, please contact: Xenya Scanlon, xscanlon@unccd.int Chief of Communications Ms. Wagaki Wischnewski, wwischnewski@unccd.int Head of Press and Media For interview requests, contact: press@unccd.int Use these links to request for the use of the press conference room or recording studio facilities: Interview/Recording studio: https://koalendar.com/e/interview-studio-cop15 Press conference room: https://koalendar.com/e/press-conference-cop-15

Leaders’ summit in Côte d’Ivoire kicks off major UN conference on the future of land stewardship