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Droughtland campaign featured in the margins of the General Assembly discussions on new ways to promote SDGs

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.

Droughtland campaign featured in the margins of the General Assembly discussions on new ways to promote SDGs
Graduate students visit UNCCD to discuss the sustainable future of land

At the start of the new academic year, the United Nations Regional Information Centre in Bonn together with UNCCD, hosted a group of graduate students from Côte d’Ivoire, Germany and Kenya to discuss the Convention’s work on combating drought and desertification and the role of science in supporting good land stewardship. Two dozen students who visited UN Bonn are a part of the programme launched by the German Center for Development Research (ZEF) in 2021, together with the Universities of Cologne, Abidjan and Nairobi as part of the new DAAD Global Environment and Climate Center Initiative. The African Climate and Environment Center – Future African Savannas (AFAS), research programme focuses on nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation in African savannas. Addressing the students, UNCCD Lead Scientist Dr. Barron Joseph Orr stressed the urgency of bringing degraded lands back to health at a time when humanity has already exceeded four of the nine planetary boundaries which define our “safe operating space” – climate change, biodiversity loss, land use change and geochemical cycles, according to the recently published 2nd edition of UNCCD Global Land Outlook. Integrated land use planning that helps anticipate potential land degradation, navigate trade-offs and deliver on multiple Sustainable Development Goals is at the core of the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) concept. Developed by the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface (SPI), it provides a strong scientific foundation that supports UNCCD Parties’ work in land restoration. UNCCD Knowledge Management Officer Mr. Jeroen van Dalen explained the structure of the SPI that brings together scientists from various regions, policy makers, practitioners and civil society leaders to research a specific topic such as LDN and provide informed policy recommendations for the country Parties of the convention. Some of the visiting students who come from farming communities in Africa have witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of drought and land degradation on the rangelands and their inhabitants. Many questions from the students have been focused on UNCCD support for land restoration initiatives that benefit local communities. The students also wanted to know how youth can be engaged in UNCCD’s work. The UNCCD Communications Chief Ms. Xenya Scanlon highlighted the Convention’s work with Land Heroes and other young activists, as well as youth-led  civil society organizations, inviting the students to get involved in the UNCCD Youth Caucus.

Graduate students visit UNCCD to discuss the sustainable future of land
Re-shape policies to transform food systems and end hunger

Nearly 670 million people will still be facing hunger in 2030 – 8 percent of the world population. This is equivalent to the population facing hunger in 2015 when Agenda 2030 was launched. What’s more, access to food is not necessarily leading to healthier eating, mainly because food and agricultural policies are not aligned with delivering healthy food. Governments need to repurpose food and agricultural policies to make healthy diets affordable. This is the conclusion of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022  (SOFI 2022) Report released Tuesday, 5 July 2022, by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). SOFI is published every year to track progress towards reaching the 2030 sustainable development goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms. The latest report presents an update on the situation of hunger and malnutrition around the world. Globally, between 720 million and 828 million people faced hunger in 2021, about 150 million more people since COVID-19 broke out. The last report identified conflict, climate extremes and economic shocks as the key drivers of hunger and malnutrition. To these, SOFI 2022 adds policies that lead to inequality. Policies are no longer having a significant effect in reducing hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms, SOFI 2022 states. And in fragile economies, there are constraints to using financial policies to transform agrifood systems. For instance, all over the world, financial support is directed mainly to produce staple foods, such as rice, sugar and meat, not fruits and vegetables. As a result, fruits and vegetables are more expensive and unaffordable. Moreover, food and agricultural policies are not aligned with the promotion of healthy diets. Further, the war in Ukraine is affecting supply chains, in turn raising the costs of fertilizer, energy, and food, such as grains, especially in the first half of 2022. Considering the unfolding challenging economic situation globally, the report states that public-private partnerships are needed to boost investment. However, partnerships require the support of a robust governance system to ensure vulnerable communities benefit, and not powerful industry players. The second edition of the Global Land Outlook (GLO2) released in April 2022 also calls attention to the issue of food insecurity. It spotlights the impacts of modern agriculture on food systems that alter the land and the impacts of globalizing food systems. Global food systems are responsible for 80% of deforestation, 70% of freshwater use, and the single greatest cause of terrestrial biodiversity loss. The disconnect between where food is produced and consumed is key. In the past, local consumption led to land degradation. Behind this rapid land use change today are the demand for food internationally and for urban communities. GLO2 urges the international community to re-think its global food systems. It calls for a turn to the sustainable management of the land, which experience shows can “both improve the productivity of the land and reduce the cost of food production.” The international community has committed to restore one billion hectares of land by 2030, an area the size of the United States or China. GLO2 points to hundreds of practical ways to carry out the desired ecosystem restoration at local, national and regional levels. This year’s SOFI report is a joint initiative of the FAO, International Food and Agriculture Development (IFAD), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The brief and full reports are now available online.

Re-shape policies to transform food systems and end hunger
Recognizing women, celebrating their roles for land

To shine the light on the critical role of women across the world in supporting sustainable land management (SLM) and the UNCCD implementation, we invite interviews, stories, pictures and videos from women of all backgrounds and ages, whose work as farmers, activists, politicians and scientists is related to SLM. The site http://www.womenandunccd.org presents the stories collected to date and your can submit yours there as well. We look forward to your submissions!  

Recognizing women, celebrating their roles for land
The weather alone cannot explain droughts and floods

Communities all over the world have suffered some of the most brutal effects of drought and flooding this year. Flash floods in western Europe, eastern and central Asia and southern African. And catastrophic drought in Australia, southern Africa, southern Asia, much of Latin America, western North America and Siberia are cases in point. The impacts extend well beyond the individual events. For example, the rise in food insecurity in the southern African region and unprecedented wildfires in North America, Europe and Central Asia.   What is going on? This is much more than bad weather in some cases, and is increasingly so. The UNCCD organized an event at COP26, the Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow, United Kingdom, to focus attention on the land-water-climate nexus. The science and policy responses discussed make it clear that human decisions exacerbated by climate change are significantly – and arguably, catastrophically – amplifying the impact of drought and floods.  The discussion encouraged more strategic land use decisions. Decisions that ensure what we do where, and in particular, what we plant where, mitigatesthe impacts of both extremes, be it too much or too little rainfall. It also shed light on how important it is to have healthy soils. Soils that are replete with organic matter will obtain “more crop per drop”, and reduce the risks associated with drought and flooding.  Extreme events, including both droughts and floods are on the rise. With more land projected to be get drier and more and more people living in drylandsin the future, the discussions centered on the shift more than 60 countries are making from “reactive” response to droughts and floods to “proactive” planning and risk management designed to build resilience. Participants from Malawi, Pakistan, Honduras, Grenada and Burkina Faso provided concrete examples of policy alignment and cross-sectorial approaches to implementation. Here is a quick overview of the highlights. Read more:  Land and drought

The weather alone cannot explain droughts and floods